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Women’s Concerns Transcend Decades

By Jessica Wilson

BOONE — Today’s generation of female college students has opportunities that women in previous generations never saw.

But the need to mobilize, learn, study, and be aware of the issues affecting women continues, according to Dr. Sandie Gravett, director of Women’s Studies at Appalachian State University.

That’s one of the goals of the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA) annual conference April 7-9 at Appalachian.

“Women have made some great strides,” Gravett said. “On one level, women now have opportunities that coincided with the larger feminist movement in society years ago. Women had to make their own way professionally and academically. On the other hand, some issues still exist such as a glass ceiling, childcare concerns, equal pay for equal work, and so on. We are now just beginning to see the impact of the movement from years ago with the opportunities of today. Some issues have changed, but it is important not to become complacent just because there are more opportunities available now. There is still work to be done.”

Among the many changes occurring since the women’s movement began is in the growth of women in higher education. “Women were not as professionally visible in academics a number of years ago,” Gravett said. “Women generally gravitated towards careers in secondary education or particular administrative fields, but you did not see a lot of top-level women administrators. Now women students outnumber men in college and the number of women and men with doctrates is rapidly equaling. There are more women teaching in higher education and more women’s studies classes are being offered,” she said.

The women’s studies conference will bring educators and activists together to look at a range of women’s studies issues. “Women’s studies as a curriculum also emphasizes activism and helping campuses and community become aware of women’s issues. This conference will provide an abundance of academic and activist resources,” Gravett said.

Featured speakers include Dorothy Allison, best known for her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, a National Book Award finalist. Her program, “Nothing for Sure and Everything in Question – Where We Go from Here,” will be presented Friday, April 7, at 8 p.m. in Farthing Auditorium.

Joyce Scott is an artist whose abstract beaded work and sewn assemblages center on themes of gender and race. She is also a performance artist and is often accompanied on the lecture circuit by her mother, Elizabeth, an African-influenced quilter. Their presentation combines lecture and adaptive storytelling. Her presentation, “All Joyce All the Time,” will be presented Saturday, April 8, at 2 p.m. in the Linville Falls Room in the Student Union.

Katha Pollitt comments on popular culture and politics in a variety of print media including The Nation, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Newsweek, Harper’s, Glamour, The New York Times, The New Republic and Ms. She is also a poet and has received a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her 1982 book Antarctic Traveler won the National Book Critics Circle Award. In 1994, Pollitt published a collection of her work, Reasonable Creatures: Essays on Women and Feminism. Pollitt’s presentation, “Feminism at the Millennium” will be presented Sunday, April 9, at 10:30 a.m. in the Linville Falls Room in Plemmons Student Union.

For more information, call the Women’s Studies Office at (828) 262-7603 or visit the Women’s Studies Office web site at http://www.womenstudies.appstate.edu. The public is invited to attend the featured speaker forums free of charge.

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