Welcome to the official blog for Villanova's Gender and Women's Studies program! Please come back often for information on events, programming, academic opportunities, alumni news, student accomplishments, and more! Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Follow-Up: GWS Major Emily Tifft at the Supreme Court

The first time I argued a case before the Chief Justice of the United States, I lost on a technicality buried in the complex rules of tic-tac-toe. In the East Conference Room of the Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts and his co-counsel of second graders promptly declared that since I cheated in a game of tic-tac-toe, I should, as one “Justice” so eloquently phrased it, serve a life term “in the slammer!” I was only reprieved from punishment when the Chief Justice’s personal secretary interrupted “Court” to announce the arrival of juice boxes for snack time. Such was my life as the Visitor Programs Intern at the Supreme Court of the United States. I spent my summer hosting educational programming events for Court visitors of all ages—including using punishment for breaking the rules in tic-tac-toe as a mechanism for explaining the justice system. My job responsibilities did not, however, end there. Throughout the summer, I also gave public lectures in the Courtroom about the history, architecture, and function of the Supreme Court. I led private tours around the building for family, friends, and personal guests of the Justices. I compiled research for the Court’s Curator on extrajudicial activities of all former Supreme Court Justices, and created scavenger hunts for children through the dozens of Justice portraits in the Court’s main hall. Each day at the Supreme Court was different; whether I was consoling a swarm of angry protestors or entertaining the U.S. ambassador to France, I was never bored. Indeed, my summer was full of learning experiences, all of which shaped me into a better leader, learner, and communicator. Throughout my 12-week internship, I drew on past experiences at Villanova to shape what I wanted to get out of my time in Washington—and I came to fully understand why my GWS degree is so valuable.

On the second day of my internship, I sat in on a private luncheon Justice Sonia Sotomayor hosted with female judges and lawyers from Afghanistan. The women told Justice Sotomayor about the rampant gendered violence in their country, a place where women are killed simply for being women, and girls go to school at the risk of being tortured or raped. Justice Sotomayor spoke eloquently about the importance of female politicians in Afghani government, and expressed her fervent belief that justice will prevail in law, even amid Afghanistan’s struggles. I left the Court that day completely reaffirmed in my plans for the future. Using my English and Gender and Women’s Studies majors, I want to become a lawyer with a focus on gender issues and women’s rights. While I was naive about that area of the law when I first arrived at the Court, I expressed my interest in gender law to my supervisor in the Curator’s Office. Thanks to my supervisor’s influence, throughout the summer I repeatedly spoke with accomplished lawyers and judges from around the world, some of whom specialize in various aspects of gender rights law in places as varied as Bosnia, England, and Russia. I had the privilege of talking to Justice Ginsburg’s female law clerks about how the Justice’s career in gender law inspired them to become lawyers themselves. I gave tours to women who were from a generation when females were not accepted into American law schools, and met inspirational women from parts of the world where females in upper-level classrooms still seems an impossible dream. Each day, the experiences reaffirmed my passion and reminded of a lesson from a Philosophy of Women class or a Gender and the World course. It all showed me how the Supreme Court’s motto, “Equal Justice Under Law,” can apply to my own life. Each of my colleagues this summer worked toward that mission of equality in his or her own way. Luckily for me, through this internship, I rediscovered my own plans—the way I want to contribute to making the world a more just society. I know that my GWS degree will help me get there.




Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Awards and Honors for our GWS Faculty!

Congratulations to our award-winning GWS faculty!

Two GWS faculty members -- Megan Quigley, Assistant Professor of English, and Catherine Warrick, Associate Professor of Political Science -- won Villanova's Tolle Lege teaching award in May 2014. This award acknowledges excellence in teaching among faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.   

GWS faculty member Katina Sawyer, Assistant Professor of Psychology, received the 2014 Villanova University Junior Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching. Sawyer was also chosen as a recipient of the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology Small Grant for a scale development project, entitled “How does conflict ‘work’ without heteronormative assumptions? Development and validation of an LGB identity-based work-family conflict scale.”

GWS Steering Committee member Sally Scholz, Professor of Philosophy and editor of the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia, was honored with the faculty Meyer Innovation and Creative Excellence Award for initiating a podcast series for the journal's book reviews and a video interview series with individual authors.  At commencement, Scholz was also honored with the 2014 Villanova University Outstanding Faculty Research Award.

Congratulations as well to GWS faculty member Valerie Joyce, Associate Professor of Theatre, who was recently awarded tenure.

“In my Body: 2014 National Undergraduate Conference on Body Image” hosted by Cabrini College October 22-23

Cabrini College’s Department of English and Women’s Studies Program is hosting “In my Body: 2014 National Undergraduate Conference on Body Image” October 22-23. The conference will be hosted on Cabrini’s campus and will include plenary and keynote speakers.

Students are invited to submit proposals for individual presentations, panel discussions/workshops, and creative submissions. The proposal must be sent to filling@cabrini.edu (Dr. Michelle Filling-Brown) by September 1st.

Possible topics could include (but are not limited to):

-Cross-cultural beauty/body standards

-Connections between body image and changing fashions (e.g. clothing, make-up, hair styles)

-The role of media and advertising in creating, perpetuating, or resisting standards of beauty

-Intersections of gender, race, class, or sexuality and beauty culture

-Representations of body image/physical beauty in literature

-Body satisfaction/dissatisfaction and self-esteem as related to body image

-The objectification of oneself or of others’ bodies

-Sexualization of the female body

-Body work (e.g. steroid use, excessive dieting and/or exercising, cosmetic surgery, body modification)

-Historical discussion or research in psychological disorders that manifest themselves in relation to body image (e.g. body dysmorphia, eating disorders)

Specific details on proposal structures and guidelines can be found here: http://inmybodycabrini.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/in-my-body-national-undergraduate-conference-on-body-image/.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Jill Biden: Villanova University 2014 Commencement Speaker

This past May, Villanova University was honored to have Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States, speak at the 2014 Commencement Ceremony. Biden grew up in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania and earned a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Delaware, Master’s Degrees from West Chester University and Villanova University, and a Doctorate Degree from the University of Delaware. She works to bring attention to the struggles of military families, to stress the importance of American community colleges, and to raise awareness of women’s issues, particularly breast cancer prevention. Currently, she teaches English at a community college in Virginia. She is believed to be the first Second Lady in the nation’s history to have a full-time job while serving this public office.

Below is a link to the transcript of Biden’s commencement remarks as released by the White House, Office of the Vice President.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

GWS Major News: Emily Tifft, Internship at the Supreme Court

Crammed into a packed, outdoor amphitheater, sitting between centenarians and college students alike, I found my future. Two and a half years ago, based on my passion for my high school’s Mock Trial team, my mother took me to see an interview with former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Twenty minutes into hearing Justice O’Connor detail her journey to become the first female justice on the nation’s highest court, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer. I also discovered, however, how much I wanted to be a Gender and Women’s Studies major. And although I did not know it at the time, my GWS degree would lead me to the very place Justice O’Connor worked for almost 25 years: the Supreme Court of the United States.

Sitting in the audience, I was moved by Justice O’Connor’s determination. Lawyers and judges told Justice O’Connor women could not attend law school. In response, she went to Stanford Law School and won awards for her publications as Editor-in-Chief of the law review. When she was told the only job she could get in a law firm was as a secretary, she founded her own firm—and worked her way all the way to the Supreme Court. In retirement, she founded a website, iCivics, which uses games to teach middle school students about the government and has crusaded for the abolishment of the elected judiciary system. In short, throughout her life, Justice O’Connor has proven that despite obstacles and close-mindedness, women can achieve anything to which they aspire.

Stories of remarkable women like Justice O’Connor have inspired me to fight for women’s equality. They have inspired me to declare a major that empowers men and women alike and campaigns for justice and equality. This semester, with the help, guidance, and support of some amazing GWS professors, I took a big step toward my legal future by applying for, and later securing, a position as the Visitor Programs Intern at the Supreme Court of the United States.

For the past two months, I have been studying a small library of books, news articles, and legal briefs to prepare for visitor inquiries. During the next four months, I will use that research and knowledge to lead tours of the Court, develop new presentations, and share the history of the institution with more than 200 people at a time inside the nation’s most famous courthouse. In short, I will be pushed far outside of my comfort zone. Luckily, I feel prepared. After all, I have a broad base of skills from my GWS studies.

I was selected for my internship out of a national pool of bright, talented applicants. In my application, I wrote an essay about gender inequality in America. The essay discussed my desire to make a difference, however small, in enacting the words written on the entrance to the Supreme Court: “Equal Justice under Law.” I talked about my Villanova courses in feminist theory and the study of intersectional oppressions and prejudices. While I am sure there were many factors in my selection, I know it is not an exaggeration to say I would not have been chosen for my dream internship had it not been for my ability to differentiate myself as a GWS major.

This summer, I will lead guests through the courtroom, the on-site history exhibitions, and, most meaningfully to me, a retrospective on Sandra Day O’Connor. Just as Justice O’Connor inspired me, I look forward to sharing her story and message with others, so they too can see the power of perseverance and the importance of justice.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Faculty News: GWS Academic Director in the Media Talking about Nellie Bly

The Gender and Women's Studies program is excited to announce that our own Academic Director, Dr. Jean Lutes, was interviewed on NPR's national radio program Morning Edition today! She discussed the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nellie Bly, the famous American female reporter. You can listen to the interview on NPR's website.

In addition, Dr. Lutes participated in a podcast of the Great Lady Nerds of American History special, talking about Nellie Bly. The show aired over the Fourth of July weekend of 2014 and is available to listen to here.

To see more on Dr. Lute's writing on Nellie Bly, there is a link to an electronic version of a newspaper article from the Mainline Times here.

Dr. Lutes has also edited a Penguin Classics edition of Bly's new stories that you can see here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Congratulations to our GWS Graduates!

We wish you the best of luck in all you do. Thanks so much for being a part of the Gender and Women's Studies Program during your time at Villanova.

Majors: Tara Lombardia and Kelsey Utter
Minors: Olivia Ferguson, McKenna Hinkle, Elyssa Strickler, Katherine Welter, and Jacqueline Zellman

"As a graduating Gender and Women's Studies Major I can honestly say my outlook on the world has been changed because of my major. My classes have affected me beyond the walls of the classroom. What I have learned is relevant no matter what situation I am in. I've learned most importantly to ask "why?" Why is the world the way it is and why do we accept the world to be what it is? My courses and my professors have opened my eyes to the fact that the world is what we make of it, and sexism is still prevalent in every aspect of life, even if it doesn't seem obvious. I feel lucky to have had the opportunity to learn how to think critically. Gender and Women's Studies majors and minors understand that the world could be a better place, and as a Gender and Women's Studies student, I want to be part of that change."-Tara Lombardia
(Interested in declaring a Gender and Women's Studies major or minor? Contact our Academic Director, Jean Lutes, at jean.lutes@villanova.edu. You can also find more information on our website.)