WGSX Colloquium Examines Women and Work


The week of March 25 marked the 15th Annual Women, Gender, and Sexuality Colloquium, a series of presentations by three visiting professors who specialize in studies involving feminist approaches to economics and political theory. A majority of the colloquium events took place in Cole Cinema with three consecutive days of afternoon and evening presentations, leading up to the final round-table discussion with all of the guests on the evening of Thursday, March 27. The three distinguished guests were Dr. Mary Hawkesworth, Professor of Women Studies and Political Theory at Rutgers University, Dr. Maliha Safri, Professor of Economics at Drew University, and Dr. Susan Feiner, Professor of Economics and Women Studies at University of Southern Maine.

The first distinguished guest to present on Wednesday, March 26, was Dr. Maliha Safri at 4:45p.m. in Cole Cinema following Tuesday’s exhibition opening and reception in Montgomery Hall. In her presentation titled “Victims or Heroes? Women-led Migration, Agency, and Class,” Dr. Safri described the economic trends of migration and its impacts on what she refers to as “the global household.” Her presentation covered a vast analysis of case studies on workers out of the Philippines and Mexico, as well as her involvement with working immigrants around the world.

“I felt like this colloquium was more like a mini retreat where I spoke so much with the other presenters and got to know them more. I got to know people on the campus and there was so much more interaction with students. It felt like a whole two-day experience rather than just me coming and giving a one hour lecture,” said Safri.

Dr. Safri was also able to sit in on class lectures where she held discussions with Political Science students regarding her presentation and the relevant themes that these students were familiar with as an interdisciplinary case study within their major.

Safri said, “It made me feel rejuvenated to even go back to my own students, because talking with students who are so excited makes me recall how excited students can be when activists come. It makes me think that I need to go back and do more things like what I saw at the colloquium here.”

The second distinguished guest to present on Wednesday evening was Dr. Mary Hawkesworth at 8:15p.m. in Cole Cinema. In her presentation titled “Feminization, Commodification, Invisibilization: Gendered Labor in the 21st Century,” Dr. Hawkesworth capitalized on the statistics surrounding gender in the workforce.

“It’s been a real privilege to be on campus with these two scholars. To be able to be here with such wonderful other scholars but also then to break out and meet with students – learn what they’re up to – it’s just been an absolutely wonderful experience. It’s just really great to see how the college works and see the wonderful educational project that you’ve got going here,” said Hawkesworth.

On the final night of the colloquium, Dr. Susan Feiner gave her presentation titled “From Flintstones to Jetsons: Consumerism, Overworked Women and Economic Stagnation.” In this, she fiercely tackled the honesty behind the economic impacts between household labor exploitation, Gross Domestic Product, and income equality. Following Dr. Feiner’s presentation was a round-table discussion including all three scholars, moderated by Professor Sahar Shafqat, Department Chair of Political Science.

“This year’s colloquium combined some real world pressing issues of economic inequality and gender oppression with truly inspirational examples of how we can remedy these problems,” said Professor Shafqat.

In addition to attending these presentations, students were able to further enhance their understanding of the material covered by the scholars by participating in the round-table discussion and the following reception in Aldoum Lounge. The opportunity to meet and converse on a personal level with the guest speakers provided another chance for students to ask any final questions they may have had, and served as a fitting end to another successful colloquium.