Conference features Chisholm, Crowley

Jennifer Dostal

Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and Candy Crowley, CNN Congressional correspondent, will be featured speakers at Iowa State’s Catt Center for Women in Politics’ spring conference.

“Looking Back/Looking Forward: Women’s Voices, Victories and Visions,” which takes place Feb. 28-March 1, will focus on the role of women as voters, political candidates and policy-makers.

“The goal of this year’s conference is to provide a retrospective look at the participation of women in the political process, assess their current status following the 1996 elections, and discuss trends and strategies for the future,” said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Center.

Chisholm, of New York, will speak on “Who Speaks for Us? Women and the Political Agenda.” She will explain how to utilize the voice of women in the political process. Women should not only be elected to Congress but need to be members of Congressional committees, Bystrom said.

Aside from being a pioneer in politics, Bystrom said Chisholm is also a “dynamic speaker and well-situated to provide retrospective on the changing role of women in politics.”

Chisholm served in Congress from 1968 to 1982, and campaigned for the Democratic Party nomination for president of the United States in 1972. She is also nationally known as an advocate for women and minorities in the political process.

Candy Crowley, CNN Congressional correspondent, will speak on “Media Coverage of Women Voters, Candidates and Political Leaders.”

Her topic will focus on media bias against women and women’s issues. The majority of reporters are men, Bystrom said, and because men and women see issues differently this leads to media bias against women.

Many candidates are now trying to capture the women’s vote by championing issues women find important and balancing that bias, Bystrom said. The 1996 elections are an example of that trend because President Bill Clinton won the majority of female votes, Bystrom said.

The purpose of having this annual conference, she said, is to ensure that the collective women’s voice continues to be heard in government.

Several other speakers, including several Iowa women legislators, will present various topics from academic research to the modern role of the First Lady. “We tried for a ‘lively’ mix of academics and nationally recognized speakers,” Bystrom said.

A $1,000 award will also be presented at the conference. This award is intended to continue a researcher’s study of women and politics, Bystrom said.

This conference is part of the Catt Center’s mission of providing civic education to the residents of Iowa and the students of Iowa State.

The conference or any of the individual lectures are free and open to the public. The conference will be held in Scheman building.

Child care will be provided for a small fee. For more information or meal reservations, call the Catt Center at 294-3181.