Wintersteen lauds diversity in opening remarks at women’s and gender studies conference


By Caitlin Yamada [email protected]

Ann Oberhauser, director of the women’s and gender studies program, welcomed participants to the women, gender, and sexuality studies student conference and also introduced Wendy Wintersteen. 

Whitney Mason

As participants for the third annual Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Student Conference, titled “Transforming Gender and Society” entered into the Campanile Room Saturday morning, the eight tables were named in honor of feminists who have made impact in the United States and at Iowa State.

From former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Sloss, Carrie Chapman Catt to Sojourner Truth, Sylvia Rivera and Gloria Steinem, feminists were represented to those in attendances.

Speaking first was Ann Oberhauser, the director of the Women and Gender Studies Department at Iowa State. She noted the program is celebrating 40 years of being a program at Iowa State, beginning in 1977.

Oberhauser said students attending the conference were coming from four other colleges and universities in the state: Drake University, Central College, Hawkeye Community College and Grinnell College.

Maritza Pierre, graduate student in community and regional planning and sustainable agriculture introduced President Wendy Wintersteen and her welcome address.

Pierre said in her remarks that Wintersteen began to attend Iowa State two years after the Women’s Studies program began.

“We’re eager for the president to commit to the investment of students and to diversity and inclusion,” Pierre said.

Wintersteen welcomed all students and thanked Oberhauser for her leadership and her role in the sociology department at Iowa State.

Wintersteen said that people will thank her for being the first female president.

“I think that being a role model is important and I take that role seriously,” Wintersteen said. “I believe that anyone who comes to Iowa State and works hard should be given the opportunity to be successful.”

Wintersteen said there’s been an increase in multicultural and international students and said that now there are slightly more women than men in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

“As we welcomed more diverse students into the university, we learned that we weren’t listening to the students’ experiences here,” Wintersteen said. “Listening is about valuing the students’ experiences.”

Wintersteen spoke of her experience attending the Iowa State Conference on Race and Ethnicity (ISCORE) in March and how it was a wonderful experience for her.

“My question after the conference was how do we move forward?” Wintersteen said. “We have to learn, we have to move forward, there has to be action done after this great conversation today.”

Wintersteen said the university is trying to become more diverse. She added that by focusing on diversity it does not take away the focus on excellence.

Wintersteen said that diversity brings excellence to the university.

“If you don’t have a caring environment, how do individuals achieve their full potential?” Wintersteen asked the attendees.

Wintersteen said that the conference reflects her hopes and dreams for the university. She said she had discussions about students’ experiences on campus and said that some of the issues can be resolved easily.

In Wintersteen’s closing remarks, she congratulated the program on their 40 year anniversary and the third annual conference.