Gender and Women’s Studies program sponsors 20th annual Elizabeth Cady Stanton Conference

Daina Amorosano

The Gender and Women’s Studies program hosted the 20th annual Elizabeth Cady Stanton Conference on March 18, featuring a series of panels where both undergraduate and graduate students presented their work, as well as a keynote address by Linda Greenhouse, the Supreme Court reporter for the New York Times.

Every spring, the Gender and Women’s Studies program coordinates the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Conference to highlight and celebrate the incisive work produced by students all across campus during the previous year, according to the program’s Web site.

Students submit papers that engage gender theories and then present their work on a panel at the conference in order to compete for cash prizes awarded to one first year student, one undergraduate student and one graduate student.

Out of approximately 57 student participants, the award winners this year were Lauren Moyer for the first year, senior Kimberly Marini for the undergraduate and Steven Schultz for the graduate papers.

“Even though I worked really hard on my paper, I was so shocked to hear that I won because there were so many really good essays presented at the conference,” Marini wrote in an e-mail. “I had never attended one before, but it was actually fun and not as intimidating as I thought it would be. I’m really glad I decided to submit my paper and to attend.”

The program also inaugurated a new award, the Barbara Wall Award for work that represents an application of feminist theory in ways that have the potential to change women’s lives.

Senior Sandy Krogulski, who wrote her paper about the suffragettes, members of the more radical and militant movement for women’s suffrage in the United Kingdom, was the undergraduate recipient of this award. Carlie Allison received this award for the graduate level.

Besides the new award, this year’s conference was also distinctive as its 20th anniversary and the first since the name change from Women’s Studies to Gender and Women’s Studies.

“One thing that hasn’t changed is that we offer a supportive environment for students to share their work across disciplines and across levels,” communication professor and former director of the Women’s Studies program Sheryl Bowen wrote in an e-mail. “First year and graduate students might be on the same panel.”

Bowen, who has been involved with the GWS program since its inception and has been directly involved in most of the 20 ECS conferences, coordinated the conference along with fellow GWS steering committee members Heidi Rose, a communications professor, and Nicole Else-Quest, a psychology professor.

After all the student-presentations, Greenhouse delivered a keynote address, “What Judges Know (Or Don’t Know) About Sex Discrimination,” in the Connelly Cinema. Citing several Supreme Court cases, she discussed the role of gender in the outcome of judicial cases, whether at the federal or state level. She also remarked on the controversial Roe v. Wade decision, albeit briefly.

“I don’t mean to offend anyone,” Greenhouse said, in conscious recognition of the University’s Augustinian tradition.

Lisa Sewell, director of GWS for Programming, made the arrangements with Greenhouse, who couldn’t present last year because she was unable to accommodate the conference date.

“We try to get someone as a speaker who will draw a wider audience in the university,” Bowen wrote. “This way, we build interest in the speaker, get visibility for our program and give the ECS conference participants another great experience for their day.”  

A number of programs co-sponsored the speaker this year, including communication department, the Writing Center, Center for Peace and Justice, writing and rhetoric and ethics department – a necessity given the tight budgets these days, according to Bowen.

A banquet dinner following the keynote address concluded the conference.

“We try to be sure that everyone has a positive experience and that it’s not just about the prizes,” Bowen wrote. “Knowing that there is so much excellent work being done on feminism and gender is heartening to me.”