News & Events

Being Feminist Faculty: Advantages, Strategies, Challenges

Wednesday, April 2, 5:30 - 8:30 PM
Building E51 Room 095
MIT Campus

two smiling faculty members looking engaged and happy Few disciplines are as interdisciplinary or as rooted in activism as Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. What specific conditions does that create for feminist faculty situated in institutions often struggling for gender equity, frequently "loaned" from other departments, and often compelled to educate colleagues about the most basic issues animating our enterprise? How does an intersectional lens and our shared political commitments give us an edge and an advantage? This panel will address these issues from a historical perspective, followed by pragmatic and strategic break-out discussions focusing on pre- and post-tenure particularities. 

Please join us on Wednesday, April 2nd, from 5:30 - 8:30 PM at MIT to join in this discussion!  

This event is free and open to faculty at all levels.  Space is limited and RSVP is required. RSVP to


5:30 - 6:15 PM: Opening Panel: Being Feminist Faculty: Advantages, Strategies, Challenges

Evelynn Hammonds is the Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, from 2008 – 2013 was Dean of Harvard College, and from 2005 – 2008 was Harvard University’s first Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity.  She has researched and published widely on the history of disease, race and science, African American feminism, African American women and the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, and analyses of gender and race in science and medicine. Her publications include Childhood's Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880–1930 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), the co-authored volume Gender and Scientific Authority (University of Chicago Press, 1996), and “Gendering the Epidemic: Feminism and the Epidemic of HIV/AIDS in the United States, 1981-1999" which appears in Science, Medicine, and Technology in the 20th Century: What Difference Has Feminism Made? (2000), among others.Professor Hammonds's current work focuses on the intersection of scientific, medical, and socio-political concepts of race in the United States.

Sue Lanser is Professor of English, Women’s and Gender Studies, and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University. Her scholarly interests encompass eighteenth-century studies, the French Revolution, feminist thought, narrative theory, and the history of gender and sexuality. Her publications include Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (Cornell University Press, 1992), the forthcoming books The Sexuality of History:  Modernity and the Sapphic 1565-1830 (University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2014), and Queer/Feminist Narrative Theories, co-edited with Robyn Warhol (Ohio State University Press, forthcoming 2014), among others.

Faith Smith is Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English at Brandeis University. Her research interests include the intellectual history of the nineteenth-century Caribbean; gender, sexuality, and national sovereignty in the late 20th century, and she teaches courses in Anglophone Caribbean literature, African-American Literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, literary method, and Caribbean women and globalization.  Her publications include Sex and the Citizen: Interrogating the Caribbean (UVA Press, 2011), “Of Laughter and Kola Nuts: Or What Does Africa Have to do with the African Diaspora?” in Gendering the African Diaspora: Women, Culture, and Historical Change in the Caribbean and Nigerian Hinterland  (2010) among others.

Suzanna Danuta Walters is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at Northeastern University. Her work is centered on questions of gender, sexuality, family, and popular culture and she is a frequent commentator on these issues for the media. Among her many publications are The Tolerance Trap: How God, Genes, and Good Intentions are Sabotaging Gay Equality (forthcoming in May by NYU Press), All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America (University of Chicago Press, 2001) and Material Girls: Making Sense of Feminist Cultural Theory (U. of California Press, 1995). Additionally, in 2004, Walters founded the first Ph.D. program in gender studies at Indiana University, where she was a Professor of Gender Studies and held positions in Sociology and Communication and Culture.


6:30 - 7:15 PM: Breakout Groups

Breakout Group 1: Navigating the Pre-Tenure Experience as a Feminist Faculty Member

This group will discuss some of the challenges facing junior faculty as they rise through the ranks and strive to negotiate multiple disciplinary and professional roles, including and especially finding ways to support their work as feminists within academia.  Some specific issues might include: finding supportive colleagues, mentors, and writing groups; finding the right balance of professional commitments; deciding what leadership to take (e.g., in organizing conferences and colloquia); responding to pressures from non-feminist colleagues; finding the best ways to mentor students; and finding one's own voice and niche as a serious scholar. 

Facilitators:  Elizabeth Wood, Professor of History, Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Women's and Gender Studies, MIT and Faith Smith, Associate Professor of African and Afro-American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, and English, Brandeis University


Breakout Group 2: Managing Multiple Roles as a Tenured Feminist in Academia

This group will consider a range of possible topics relating to the work of feminists in academia today. Some topics might include: the work of feminist institution-building; developing programming and curricula for WGS programs; working with diverse faculty, many of whom experience their work in women's and gender studies as a set of supplementary responsibilities on top of their official load; building bridges across departments and programs; working with deans and administrators.  And how to do all this while also maintaining one's own practice and development, both intellectual and practical, as a feminist? 

Facilitators: Carla Kaplan, Davis Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Northeastern University andSue Lanser, Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, English, and Comparative Literature at Brandeis University


7:30 - 8 PM: Closing large group discussion

8 - 8:30 PM: Closing reception 


Directions and parking information:

Building E51 is accessible by T and by car.  Free parking is available at the Hayward parking lot.  Directions from both locations included below.

To get to building E51 by T, take the red line to Kendall Square. Look for the intersection of Hayward Street and Main Street. Walk one block down Hayward until it intersects with Amherst Street. Take a left on Amherst and walk down until you see a parking lot and building on your right. This is building E51. Walk up a ramp to the entrance. Walk down the stairs to the ground floor and take a right. Room 095 will be at the end of the hall on your left.

Link to the campus map

If you are driving, the Hayward Parking Lot will be free from 5 PM onward and available to you.  The Hayward Lot is very close to building E51.  This lot is along Hayward Street that intersects Main Street and Amherst Street. To get to the Hayward lot via Main Street, drive down Main Street towards the river.  Take a right on Hayward Street. The lot will be on your right.  From the lot, turn and continue walking down Hayward, away from Main Street.  When you get to the intersection of Hayward and Amherst Street, take a LEFT.  Walk half way down the block.  You'll see a ramp to a parking area and building entrance on your right. Take a right and walk up the ramp.  This is building E51. Enter and walk down the stairs to the ground floor and take a right. Room 095 will be at the end of the hall on your left.

Link to the Hayward Lot on the campus map





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Consortium for Graduate Studies in Gender, Culture, Women, and Sexuality
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14N-211
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
Phone: 617-324-2085