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Women’s History Month 2021

March is Women’s History Month!

Women’s History Month is intended to commemorate, honor and make visible the contributions of women throughout history (or better yet, her-story). But, being visible does not always equate to being legible, or being heard.

This year WGS at the College of Charleston is theming our programming in celebration of our first woman Vice President, Madame Kamala Harris, who now famously quipped to her rudely interrupting debate opponent, “Excuse Me, I’m Speaking.”

Our programming looks back and also forward, intending to make visible and legible those women and femme-identifying rebels, agitators, knowledge creators, artists, and visionaries who trailblaze for equity and justice – historically and in present day. Join us in celebrating HER-stories!

WHM event calendar

READ NOW: “Late Professor’s New Book Leaves a Lasting Legacy”

Photograph of Alison Piepmeier's new book cover + text

Click the banner image above or the button below to read the write-up on the late Alison Peipmeier’s new book, Unexpected: Parenting, Prenatal Testing, and Down Syndrome, which The College Today‘s Amy Mercer writes “offers interviews with parents of children with Down syndrome as well as scholarly research, weaving a narrative that is both deeply personal and academic.”

Launch of Alison Piepmeier’s Last Book

Book cover of Alison Peipmeier's "Unexpected: Parenting, Prenatal Testing, and Down Syndrome" with a picture of Alison and young girl on tricycle

Alison Piepmeier’s last book, Unexpected: Parenting, Prenatal Testing, and Down Syndrome, will be published soon by NYU Press. Before Alison passed away, she asked George Estreich and Rachel Adams to complete her unfinished manuscript. They have done so, adding an introduction and chapters of our own. The book will be out from NYU Press on February 23rd!

There will also be a virtual book launch, sponsored by the Heyman Center at Columbia University. Estreich and Adams will be joined by Alondra Nelson and Sayantani Das Gupta for the launch.

For more information on the book, please visit: https://nyupress.org/9781479816637/unexpected/

READ NOW! The WGS Spring 2021 Newsletter is HERE!

Click this banner or the button below to view the newsletter

It’s here! The Spring 2021 newsletter (also named WGS Connect, just like this blog!) is here! Use the button below to view this special digital PDF, complete with embedded links and lots of great info on WGS students, faculty, events, and courses.

 

Yes! I’m a Feminist: Give Your “YES!”

YES! I'm a Feminist Banner in Red

“Yes! I’m a Feminist.” is celebrating eight years as an annual event organized by the WGS Community Advisory Board in support of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at The College of Charleston. While this year has kept us at a distance, we have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to find a creative way to celebrate our “wins” with our most loyal and generous supporters and to invite our global community to the party.

This year, our annual fundraising event will be completely virtual. With COVID-19 as a deciding factor, we have instead poured our energy into creating a video that encapsulates the culmination of our hard-fought past, acknowledges our present-day reality, and looks onward to a brighter, more feminist future. We are, if nothing more, celebrating the mere fact that we’ve survived one of the most arduous years in recent memory, while preparing for the vital work ahead.

With this video, we hope you see yourself in the imagery, hear yourself in the words and feel a sense of pride in what we have accomplished, together. We also hope you are moved to deepen your resolve and to give what you can to support an unprecedented academic program in a grand institution that is committed to challenging the status-quo, getting into good trouble and bending the arc toward a more just world – for all.


Today through Thursday, January 28 – CofC Day! –
We are campaigning for feminist futures
and a more just world for all.


Our goal this year is to raise $25,000 to fund our Student Opportunities Fund, directly supporting specific programs that enhance the experience of our students, including access to revered speakers and mentors, unique opportunities for professional development and mentorship, and educational offerings that support our community at-large. With your donation, Yes! I’m a Feminist and the Women’s and Gender Studies program will continue to help students with tuition, programming, study abroad, and expanded research and internship opportunities. Your support has had an enormous impact on what we have been able to accomplish, together.

Watch our video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/BS8TyLthzRQ

 

HIGHLIGHTS from Academic Year 2019-2020 include:

  • Pivoted to 100% online instruction of over 500 students in WGS classes in a matter of days due to COVID-19. Held a virtual graduation celebration for Spring 2020 graduates.
  • Successful faculty search and hiring of Elizabeth Velásquez Estrada, Assistant Professor, for the Fall 2021 semester.
  • Welcomed Mariah Parker on campus for “Cultivating Courage” lecture and hip hop event at The Royal American – named “one of the young, radical women of color rescuing the Democratic party
  • Virtually hosted esteemed women’s historian Anya Jabour (University of Montana) for Women’s Equality Day (8/26) lecture Sophonisba Breckinridge, the Suffrage Movement, and Social Justice
  • Hosted campus-community book club around Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All, culminating in a virtual event with Professor Martha S. Jones, the Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor at Johns Hopkins University.
  • Hosted more than a dozen virtual events in the fall 2020 semester for students, faculty, staff, alums and community members. All events have focused on our anti-racism commitments.
  • Launched the Student Advisory Committee – a diverse group of student leaders in WGS to advise program decisions
  • Expanded the Community Advisory Board with highly respected women and advocates for feminist values in the Charleston community
  • Secured the Ketner-Crunelle LGBTQ+ Endowed Scholarship – a first ever LGBTQ+ scholarship at the College of Charleston

On behalf of the College of Charleston’s Women’s and Gender Studies Community Advisory Board, students, and faculty, we graciously THANK YOU for supporting this exceptional, ever-growing program for over eight years! Through the WGS major and minor, students are able to devote themselves to the study of identities, power, and intersectionality in different cultures, contexts, and time periods. We discuss complex cultural issues – from historical to contemporary controversies – and teach students to think on their feet to develop a range of analytical approaches. Our students are the future. And the future is now.

 

GOALS for the 2020-2021 Academic Year on behalf of the WGS Community Advisory Board include:

  • Produce the 8th Annual Yes, I Am A Feminist! event, raising a minimum of $25,000 to directly support the WGS mission and programs.
  • Deepen existing community relationships and procure new strategic partnerships across the Lowcountry, state of South Carolina and the region.
  • Expand recruiting, programming and advocacy efforts continuing to offer a leading-edge curriculum and high-impact experiential learning for students and opportunities for community engagement.
  • Increase Student Opportunities Fund to $25,000, assisting students who need financial support to participate in study abroad, unpaid internships, research and creative activities, and advocacy or activism in projects that advance social justice.

We invite you to contribute to our only fundraising event of the year by supporting all of the extraordinary programs created for and by WGS students. We invite you to celebrate the life of Alison Piepmeier, whose legacy lives on in the mission and contributions of a small and mighty academic program that reaches well beyond the classroom. We invite you to deepen your resolve and invest in your community that supports a more just world. We invite you to…

DONATE TODAY.

Yes I'm a Feminist Banner reading "Give Your YES!" (click to donate)

give.cofc.edu/WGS

Donations can also be made by check and mailed to:
Women’s & Gender Studies, College of Charleston, 66 George St, Charleston, SC 29424

 

College of Charleston’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program Community Advisory Board:

Callie Shell, Chair (‘83), Amanda Bunting Comen (‘01), Margaret Pilarski (‘07), Barbie Schreiner (‘13), Leah Suárez (‘05), Ali Titus (‘10)

Wednesday, October 21 is International Pronouns Day!

Today – Wednesday, October 21 – is International Pronouns Day!

In celebration, we’ve put together some slides to share here on our blog and on our Instagram to help folx learn more about what pronouns are, how they’re used, and why they’re important. See below for the slides. Happy International Pronouns Day!

 

Spring 2021 WGS Course List

It’s here! Another semester’s worth of interdisciplinary classes from WGS. Use the button below to download the full course list and start planning your classes for Spring!

READ NOW! “100 Years of Women’s Suffrage: A Look Back at the Movement” Q&A with Dr. Sandy Slater (History, WGS)

screenshot of College Today article

WGS Letter to Campus Leadership: “COVID Disruptions & Equity” (8/7/20)

Women’s and Gender Studies has written a letter and sent it to the individuals listed below. We encourage you to share this widely, find ways to dialogue about these issues and support these efforts. See the full text of the letter below, or use the button at the bottom of the page to download a PDF version.


Date:   August 07, 2020

To: Fran Welch, Acting Provost
Ed Pope, Vice President of Human Resources 

Cc:       Andrew Hsu, President
Kimberly Gertner, Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs
Deanna Caveny, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs
Simon Lewis, Speaker of the Faculty Senate
Gibbs Knotts, Interim Dean, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Tim Johnson, Dean, School of Languages, Cultures and World Affairs
Sebastian van Delden, Dean, School of Sciences and Mathematics
Alan Shao, Dean, School of Business
Courtney Howard, Interim Dean, School of Education, Health & Human Performance
Godfrey Gibbison, Interim Dean, Graduate School
David Boucher, Chair, Faculty Welfare Committee
Alicia Caudill, Executive Vice President for Student Affairs
Rénard Harris, Vice President of Access and Inclusion

           

As WGS faculty who work on intersectionality and equity, we have growing concerns about Covid-related disruptions on instructional faculty and staff, particularly women and employees of color who are disproportionately and differentially impacted by the effects of the pandemic, and who can expect to have these effects accumulate over the next several years. Therefore, we urge the administration to intentionally and explicitly prioritize intersectional equity when making all Covid-19-associated decisions related to faculty and staff. By this we mean that CofC as an institution must take into consideration not only disproportionate impacts according to gender, race, ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, citizenship status, family status, age, etc., but also how these factors interact.

Mindful decisions need to be made both for the short-term (fall and spring semesters) and long-term (performance evaluations, promotion/advancement, tenure). This letter addresses the immediate issues that should be considered for the coming academic year for all employees of the College. While many of the following concerns are pertinent primarily to roster faculty, centering equity in decision making necessarily requires that we are inclusive of all personnel in our approaches: contingent, part-time, and full-time staff as well as roster, visiting, and adjunct faculty.

Several decisions that have been made recently and that will be made in the coming weeks provide cause for concern. The impending layoffs of adjunct faculty, administrative staff, and other support staff must be mindful of race and gender. For example, like many campuses, since most of our custodial and food-service workers are women, Black and Latinx, we need to be mindful of the racial disparities resulting from staffing changes and work to mitigate these. 

Specifically relevant to faculty, the recent move to extend tenure clocks for pre-tenure faculty, while well-intentioned, may exacerbate gender and race inequalities. The combined announcement of reducing adjunct faculty across the College with pressures to maintain 80% of courses in face-to-face formats create tacit pressures for adjunct faculty to teach in-person classes regardless of their health, caregiving circumstances or sense of safety doing so.

The ways in which the FMLA and the EFMLA policies are being interpreted and applied may not provide sufficient coverage with respect to pay or leave time allotted, and are inaccessible for employees who have had previous medical or care-giving needs this year, or whose children’s schools will be partially open. Moreover, some faculty or staff facing care-giving responsibilities are unable to take FMLA or EFMLA for financial or other reasons. There has been much confusion about what other options are open to these members of our community who need to balance workload with care giving. 

Attending to these issues by centering intersectional equity and implementing policies and processes related to them “advanc[es] our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion” as per our strategic plan. It furthers our overarching goal in the pillar of Employee Experience & Success “to create an inclusive workplace that inspires excellence and innovation resulting in a thriving faculty and staff community.”

Our concerns fall broadly across several categories: 

Child and Other Care constraints.

Labor inequality within the home results in disproportionate impacts on women who perform the majority of household labor, child care, schooling, and care of elders and other adults. “In times of health, social, political, and economic crises, gender inequities are exacerbated, and deepen when factors relating to income level, race and ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality, non-traditional family structures, and ability are added to the equation.” (UW System Gender Consortium letter). Closure of daycare services and K-12 schools in spring 2020 resulted in major disruptions for instructional and research faculty with children. These are expected to persist given the uncertainty of school opening in the fall. These disruptions are likely to be most acute for the parents of younger than school age children, who face daycare closure and limited access due to class size restrictions and shortened hours, as exemplified by the closure of ECDC. 

Staff employees who will be increasingly required to report to work will need to make even more difficult decisions than usual about child care, schooling, and their employment. And, given stricter protocols for isolating children and family members who present with cold/flu symptoms, we can expect the burdens for coordinating care and schooling to be magnified for most families until there is a vaccine.

Those with elder care responsibilities and who live with adult family members who have underlying health conditions also face more substantial pressures for procuring groceries, medicines, health care services, etc. so that these members of the household are not unnecessarily exposed to the virus.

Supervisors should be mindful of these disparate responsibilities when making decisions about teaching and service assignments for faculty, and “on the bricks” responsibilities for staff. For example, employees with young children may need considerable accommodations to pivot to online/remote work to provide care and schooling support to young children during regular workday hours. Emerging research indicates that telecommuting results in increased household labor and increased emotional distress for working women more so than in comparison to working men. A broad policy allowing flexible choices to be made without fear of repercussion in terms of promotion or contract stability is critical. The recently announced COVID-19 Special Requests for Accommodations is a welcome improvement, but not sufficient to ensure equity and fairness.

Scholarly Productivity.

Empirical research is already emerging with evidence of diminished scholarly productivity for women in the wake of Covid-19, particularly for those in STEM fields who already experience lower funding, fewer publications, and lack of access to mentoring and networks because of systemic gender-bias.

COVID-19’s effects are driving more of a wedge between women and men in academia in terms of research opportunities. When disseminating scholarly work, women are already confronted with bias in peer review and grant review panels. For example, women must be 2.5 times as productive to be judged as equally competent in grant applications. With the recent decrease in scholarly visibility, women are less likely to be invited to speak at conferences and seminar series, to serve as grant panelists, or be asked to review articles. These combined factors will lead to a quantifiable slump in publications and grant submissions from women (https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/24/2010636117).

Increased service and teaching expectations, combined with intensified family obligations and pandemic-elevated expectations for emotional labor from students and colleagues, which are generally higher for women academics, (Bird 2011Tunguz 2016), will further exacerbate women’s ability to create time for scholarship, carve out time to focus on now-online conferences, be physically present in their labs or field sites, and apply for funding, fellowships, etc. These all have long-term impacts.

Service Assignments, Invitations and Responsibilities

The reality is that the small number of faculty and staff of color disproportionately advise and mentor students of color, and women faculty and staff overall are sought out more frequently for support with mental health concerns. Given current stressors unlike any others faced in our or our students’ lifetimes — rampaging health crises in their families and communities; a series of blatant, systematic and markedly visible acts of violence against Black and Brown people, a deepening economic recession — these students will be seeking out trusted staff and faculty mentors even more. These same individuals are also being tapped to serve on new task forces, committees, advisory boards, etc. related to addressing systemic racism and entrenched white supremacy at the College. If service assignments and “invitations” are imperative (and most are not immediately so such as curriculum revisions, peer teaching reviews, attendance at non-essential faculty meetings, assessment), there should be options to engage remotely and/or asynchronously on family-friendly schedules.

Teaching

It is inevitable that the workload for instructional faculty will increase for the fall semester with expectations for hybrid learning, ensuring increased student access to course content in multiple formats (F2F, recorded, synchronous, and asynchronous), requiring flexibility in student evaluations and assignment deadlines, etc. Despite careful planning and thorough training, disruptions inevitably impact students’ expectations and experiences of their courses. Suspending student’s feedback on teaching (aka “evaluations”) without undue threat of negative consequences, and exploring ways to value and reward the extraordinary efforts faculty are expending on their pedagogy and course design are imperative.

As the College of Charleston continues to adjust its expectations and plans for teaching, research, and service during COVID-19, we might consider pursuing strategies that other institutions have implemented. For example, some workload adjustments at other institutions include:

  • Changes to or suspension of teaching evaluations as a strategy to account for burdens caused by pandemic-related care-giving disruptions
  • Development of a research accommodation opt-in policy
  • Coordination of sick leave pools and efforts to share tutors, nannies, and care providers
  • Options to direct professional development funds to help offset costs of care-giving as an alternative way of investing in a scholar’s professional development as it frees them to write, conduct research, etc.
  • Suspension of all non-essential service responsibilities.

The issues and strategies outlined here are not comprehensive. Thus, we recommend that faculty-driven and staff-driven task forces, including the Faculty Welfare Committee, should take up this work with urgency and with the authority to make actionable recommendations to College administrators who will in turn take steps to support College employees in this moment of crisis through policies and processes. Simply being attentive to these issues without structures for accountability and transparency is insufficient. We urge all supervisors to center equity in all decision-making, with attention to the interlocking and accumulated disadvantages resulting from systemic oppressions on axes of gender, race/ethnicity, physical ability, sexual orientation, citizenship status, family status, age, etc. Anything less perpetuates existing inequities and will result in exacerbated inequalities.

Respectfully,

The Women’s and Gender Studies Faculty Executive Committee:
Vivian Appler, Department of Theater & Dance
Kris De Welde, Women’s and Gender Studies Program
Cara Delay, Department of History
Melissa Hughes, Department of Biology
Christy Kollath-Cattano, Department of Health & Human Performance
Julia McReynolds Perez, Department of Sociology & Anthropology

 

Resources:

 


REGISTER NOW! “Gender, Health, and Bodies in the Atlantic World”

Want to take a course taught by two amazing WGS profs and historians in the History department? Need to fulfill your “Historical & Global” requirement for your WGS major, or take an elective course for your WGS minor? Look no further than “Gender, Health, and Bodies in the Atlantic World,” taught by Drs. Delay and Slater!

"Gender, Health, and Bodies in the Atlantic World" Flyer

In this course, students explore the history of gender, race, sexualities, health, and bodies in the Atlantic world, and discuss topics such as:

  • the politics of race and difference
  • medicine and disease
  • health and food
  • gender and sexuality
  • “deviant” bodies
  • reproduction
  • emotions and senses

This class is open NOW! Register ASAP to reserve your seat for the Fall.

HIST 250.01 – CRN #13744

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