Keynote Speaker

Caitlin Yamada

During lunch at the Women, Gender and Sexuality Student Conference, the keynote panelist featured five past and present directors of the women’s and gender studies program.

Kathy Hickok holds a bachelor’s degree from H. Sophie Newcomb College of Tulane University, a master’s degree from University of Southwestern Louisiana and a doctorate in English literature from the University of Maryland. She was the director from 1984 to 1990, from 1992 to 1994 and in 2006.

Jill Bystydzienski has a bachelor’s and masters degree in sociology from McGill University and a doctorate from State University of New York Albany. She was the director from 1997 to 2006.

Gloria Jones-Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Talladega College, a master’s degree in sociology from Bowling Green State University and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan. She was the director from 2010 to 2015.

Dawn Bratsch-Prince has a bachelor’s and master’s in Spanish from New York University and a doctorate in romance philology from the University of California, Berkeley. She is currently the associate provost for faculty at Iowa State. She was the director from 2009 to 2010.

The panelists were asked a series of questions. The first question was “How did you get into women’s and gender studies?”

Kathy Hickok said she came into it when she was an undergraduate student and realized the problems she was facing were not hers, they were systematic. Jill Bystydzienski said she got into women’s studies when she was a graduate student. Gloria Jones-Johnson said she going into as a graduate student at the University of Michigan. Dawn Bratsch-Prince came into it when she was in her Ph.D. program.

The panelists were also asked why they wanted to lead the program and what were some of the highlights and challenges. A majority of panelists said they wanted to lead the program because there were many opportunities within the program and they were interested in the topic. Other panelists had previous experience building up a women’s and gender studies program.

The panelists also discussed what the current role of the program is, what challenges and opportunities students and faculty face today, and what advice they have for students. All of the panelists spoke about intersectionality and how large of a role it plays in modern feminism and women’s and gender studies, they also spoke about looking at the parallel of academia and activism.

They ended by telling students to keep taking more women’s and gender studies classes and to start, or keep being involved in progressing the community.