This weekend has been the National Women's Studies Association conference in Milwaukee. I presented a paper on the use of femininity to attract girls and young women to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). It's a paper that I have been mulling for a few years and the conference's theme of "precarity" gave me the push I needed to finally work on it. Luckily I also had a summer intern who not only read some of the journal articles I cite, but we were able to sit down and discuss them. My office is pretty small, so when I can have a coworker that I can bounce ideas, discuss papers and even flesh out paper directions with I really enjoy it. The paper is not complete, but the feedback I received today will propel me to finish it and try to get it published.
This is hands down my favorite conference to attend. It's a feminist nerd fest. And this weekend has not disappointed. Some highlights:
- Sara Ahmed's keynote was riveting. She started out discussing two books by George Eliot, one of which was Silas Marner, that threw me off because I had never read them and her deep analysis was really deep. But then she flipped into spaces that were familiar to me, including how diversity officers in organizations are charged with changing the same organization that appointed/hired them. It's pretty impossible, but one more of us think should be accomplished.
- I heard one paper that discussed how precarious the framework of "scientist" was during the 2001 anthrax attacks. At the start of the investigation, the media and investigators blamed citizen scientists. Then as it became clear that a "real" scientist was behind the attacks, the narrative shifted to the "mad scientist" trope.
- I volunteered at the Bitch Media table in between sessions. It was a lot of fun to talk about the magazine, blog, podcasts and their Bitch on Campus program.
- I got a copy of Gloria Steinem's book signed by her.
Next year we hit Canada! Montreal here we come!