UWF 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference to be ‘rigorous high-impact learning experience’

By Kaitlin Lott
Staff Writer

womens

Over the last 14 years, the University of West Florida’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program has hosted its annual Women’s Studies Conference (WSC), seeking to empower girls and women through scholastic achievements. This year, the 15th annual WSC is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 21 in the UWF Conference Center.

The conference will feature scholarly papers, poster presentations and visual and performance art pieces addressing women, gender and sexuality.

Women’s and Gender Studies Coordinator and WSC faculty sponsor Katherine Romack said she is eager for the upcoming event, knowing it will provide students with formal presentations of student scholarship and public exchanges of ideas across disciplines.

“This annual conference provides our students with the invaluable opportunity to engage in a rigorous, high-impact learning experience as they prepare their creative and academic works through extensive research, revision, review and debate,” Romack, an associate professor in the Department of English, said in an email interview.

The keynote speaker this year will be Anne Fausto-Sterling, the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. She also is the founder and former director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at Brown and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and UWF Faculty ADVANCE Distinguished Visiting Scholar. Her speech is entitled, “Acquiring Gender: From Baby in the Yellow Hat to Gender Identity and Expression.”

“Dr. Fausto-Sterling is an eminent developmental geneticist whose work has been influential in shaping our understanding of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity,” Romack said. “She is notable for her nuanced integration of genetics and biology with larger social forces in a way that bridges the nature-nurture divide.”

The WSC committee strives to have internationally prominent speakers who will bring energy to the conference and revitalize the greater Pensacola community with an appreciation for the research represented by high-caliber speakers such as Fausto-Sterling.

“We anticipate that the keynote by Dr. Fausto-Sterling will attract more STEM faculty, students and community members this year, and that her interest in challenging entrenched assumptions about the ‘nature’ of gender will be of great interest to the LGBTQ+ community in Pensacola,” Romack said.

In addition to Fausto-Sterling, the WSC partners with other campus organizations to build partnerships and platforms that encourage women and men with different interests to be part of the event.

“We strive to involve as many UWF and community organizations as possible, so students who attend the conference are also able to discover new ways to get behind social issues and become involved in the UWF and Pensacola community,” said Erica Miller, co-president of Women’s Studies Collective in an email interview. “This year, we will have representatives from UWF’s Women in Business Organization (WiBO), Active Minds, the Feminist Society of Pensacola, the League of Women Voters, and many others.”

“We truly believe that the conference’s positive impact on UWF students, faculty, and the community is because it has created a space for all participants to create, share and connect,” said Brittany Hammock, co-president of Women’s Studies Collective, in an email interview.

The conference presents opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to learn about the outstanding work of fellow students who are presenting. Members of WSC committee are excited about the diverse contributions submitted by undergraduates and graduates, and said submissions this year are the strongest that the department has had in the last 15 years.

This year, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program partnered with The Red Ribbon Charitable Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness about HIV prevention, and UWF Faculty ADVANCE, which has been working to improve women’s access to the STEM fields at UWF. “We are very grateful for their support,” Romack said.

Further, the WSC also presents one inspirational individual with the Mary F. Rodger’s Faculty Award for Women’s Studies. This year the recipient of this award is Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, whose research centers on domestic violence. Snyder’s luncheon presentation will focus on sexual violence on college campuses.

The Women’s Studies Conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Romack said attendees should expect the opportunity to develop scholarly insights into fruitful undergraduate research and graduate thesis projects.

For more information and registration see: 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference.