Worldwide culture has come a long way since the turn of the 20th century. Back then, women weren’t even allowed to vote, let alone graduate from college in large numbers or do much besides stay at home and tend to the kids. Now, eleven years after the turn of the 21st century, things are better, but they still aren’t equal. Any culture where there is still a glass ceiling, where men and women alike are defined by the stereotypes of their gender, where sexuality is repressed and a woman’s right to choose is still being debated by the (mostly male) legislative system, is an inherently unequal culture. Sure, women can vote, but do they stand on an even playing field? This is a question that might be answered if you attend Women World Wide: 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference at Indiana University – Purdue University (IUPUI) on Thursday, March 31, 2011 and Friday, April 1, 2011 in Indianapolis.
The 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference actually begins with a separate Indianapolis event: International Women’s Day, on Thursday, March 31, 2011. This year’s iteration of International Women’s Day commemorates the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, a landmark women’s rights and worker’s rights event that happened in New York City in 1911. The fire, the deadliest industrial accident in New York City history, killed some 146 garment workers, mostly women aged 16 to 23, who couldn’t escape the burning factory because the managers had locked the doors to the stairwells and exits. The aftermath of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire saw improved worker’s rights legislation and the founding of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union. During International Women’s Day, Indianapolis artists, poets, performers, and activists will be uniting to remember the fire and place it in historical, cultural, and personal context. There will also be an open mic for aspiring Central Indiana poets to share their Triangle Shirtwaist Factory inspired poems. International Women’s Day begins at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, 2011 at the Indianapolis college‘s Lily Auditorium.
|A short video documentary about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, which will be remembered and commemorated at International Women’s Day at IUPUI in Indianapolis|
Women World Wide: 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference officially begins the following day at 8:30 in Campus Center 450. There will be a full day’s worth of speeches, presentations, and group discussions going on during Women World Wide, so be sure to empty your schedule accordingly. The conference begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 8:00, followed by a welcome speech by Dr. Nancy Robertson, the program director for Women’s Studies at IUPUI, Dr. William Blomquist, who is the dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Charles R. Bantz, the executive vice president of Indiana University and the chancellor of IUPUI.
Women World Wide is organized around a series of student presentation sessions, each allowing participants to choose from several presentations created by Indy students. The first student presentation session begins at 9:30. Six rooms will hold six different presentation lineups, each with three students presenting lectures about a certain subject. Session 1-A, “When Do Government Programs Work?”, deals with sex education in Indianapolis schools and tradeswomen; Session 1-B, “Silencing and Self-Silencing: Analyzing the Restraints Placed on Women,” includes thoughts on Tyler Perry, fictional archetypes, and “culturally induced anxiety;” Session 1-C, “Challenging the Gender Binary,” has presentations on tomboys, women in the police force, and Native American gender roles; Session 1-D, “Empowered Women: Philanthropy, Community Building, and Resistance,” deals with activists, matriarchy, and medieval philanthropy; Session 1-E, “Girls Keep Out: The Preference for Males Worldwide” deals with women in advertising, animated films, and the emphasis of sons in Asian cultures; and Session 1-F is called “Vessels of Feminist Theories.”
The second student presentation section begins just after the first, at 10:45 a.m. Again there will be six different sessions to choose from, including “Beyond the Muse: Women in Art, Madness, and War,” “Three Perspectives on Second-Wave Feminism: Personal, Cultural, Theoretical,” “The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Women Worldwide,” “Choosing Maternity,” “Our Bodies? Our Selves?”, and “The Art of Being a Woman.” Among these overarching topics, you’ll hear varied presentations about teen pregnancy, the relevance of feminism, genital cutting, sexual tourism, child abuse, and transgender autonomy.
At 11:45, the Indianapolis art aspect of women’s issues comes to the fore of the 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference with the Student Art and Poster Session. This part of the conference will feature the work of three student artists, who will also be available for questions after the session: Janice L. Grady (“A Journey to Being Alone in a Fragmented World”), Tyra Whitson (“Racial Differences in Lifestyle: Effects on Infant Mortality”), and Danielle Standley (“I Wept Like a Child at the Realization that Nothing Pure or Genuine Truly Exists”).
Lunch (catered by India Garden, an Indianapolis restaurant) will be served at noon, and the conference picks up again at 1:00, when keynote speaker Dr. Obioma Nnaemeka takes the stage. Dr. Nnaemeka is the president of the Association of African Women Scholars and the Chancellor’s Professor of French, Women’s Studies, and Africana Studies at IUPUI. She has earned countless international awards, published eleven books and over sixty scholarly articles, and has studied at the University of Nigeria, the Université de Grenoble, and the University of Minnesota. Dr. Nnaemeka’s keynote speech at the 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference is entitled Women World Wide: Women’s Engagements in a Transnational Frame.
One final student presentation session will wrap up Women World Wide, starting at 2:15. This third session will allow participants to choose from “Be All That You Can Be: Confronting Sexism in Fairy Tales, Video Games, and Rock n’ Roll,” “Family Man? Masculinity and Relationships,” “Confinement, Resistance, and Freedom: Past and Present,” “Symbols of Domination/Relations of Power,” “Embracing Differences, Rethinking the Binary,” and “Wrongs and Rights: LGBTQ History, Culture, and Politics.” So, in summary, there’s a lot of information to be had at the 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference, and by the end of the day you’ll probably need a stiff drink at an Indianapolis bar to deal with all these ideas crowding your brain; thankfully, the conference ends at 3:15, so there will be plenty of time to enjoy your Friday night and unwind after a long day of complex, society analyzing discourse.
Whether you’re male or female, gender issues affect you every day, from your commute, to your workplace, to the Indianapolis media you watch when you get home, and even to who welcomes you home. It’s important to stay informed of current issues in feminism and gender studies, and Women World Wide: 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference is a great place to start. There will be presentations by students dealing with everything from sex education to video games at Women World Wide, plus a keynote by acclaimed speaker and IUPUI professor Dr. Obioma Nnameka. Women World Wide: 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference begins with the International Women’s Day celebration on Thursday, March 31, 2011 and continues through Friday, April 1, 2011 at IUPUI. The conference is absolutely free and open to all Indianapolis people, not just IUPUI students, so now’s the time to head out to downtown Indianapolis and educate yourself on inequality in Indiana, the United States, and worldwide.
Women World Wide: 23rd Annual Women’s and Gender Studies Undergraduate Conference
Thursday, March 31, 2011 from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.
Friday, April 1, 2011 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.