News & Events

GCWS Graduate Student Conferences

motion shot of a faculty and student interactiong Some of the largest events hosted by the GCWS are our graduate student conferences. These conferences are organized by graduate students for graduate students and community members working in the field of Women's and Gender Studies. They are 2 to three-day events where students and faculty gather to present and discuss cutting-edge student work, workshop ideas, and network to share skills and resources and build cross-institutional community.

We are excited to announce our upcoming 2017 Graduate Student Conference, "The Personal is Still Political: Challenging Marginalization Through Theory Analysis & Praxis," to be held at MIT on March 31 & April 1, 2017.

To find out more about the upcoming student conference or to get involved, contact

Documentation of each of our semi-annual conferences is included below. Click on the year and title of each conference to skip directly to the conference abstract, schedule, and participant information.

2017: The Personal Is Still Political: Challenging Marginalization through Theory, Analysis, and Praxis
2015: Power and (In)Visibility
Clash Zones: Identities in (R)evolution
2011: Gender, Sexuality, and Urban Spaces
2008: Who's Laughing? The Politics of Humor
2007: Beyond Revolution or Behind It? The Politics and Practice of Contemporary Feminism across Academic and Activist Communities
2006: Shifting Gender Identities in the face of War, Globalization, and Natural Disaster

Gender, Sexuality, and Urban Spaces
March 11th -13th, 2011
The Stata Center, MIT


Urban spaces both produce and are produced by gender. The Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies conference, Gender, Sexuality and Urban Spaces, seeks to explore the reciprocity of these complex relationships. We are interested in how life (or living) in urban spaces mark as well as produce gendered and sexed bodies and how gender, class and race relations, performances and sexualities, in turn, make their marks on the urban spaces. By urban spaces, we mean the lived practices and representations through which a variety of spaces are constituted within and beyond the scope of the city. We are looking to examine the construction of gender and sexuality (in conjunction with race, class, & mobility) and urban spaces across a range of historical, cultural, national, fictional, and conceptual contexts.

“This was my first conference, so it was really wonderful to spend all weekend discussing and celebrating gender and sexuality after spending a year in a department (and university) that does not make it a priority.”
- GCWS conference participant

From census surveys, subway maps, and zoning laws to post-apocalyptic narratives, the construction of sexualities, gender relations, performances, and gendered bodies in urban spaces has been robustly imagined, documented, and regulated. Keeping in mind the rich interdisciplinarity suggested by these approaches, this conference seeks to address the following questions:

How have evolving conceptions of gender and sexuality altered the city in the past, present, and future?

How has the city altered conceptions of gender / sexuality? How have understandings of gender / sexuality shaped the material and social / cultural spaces of the city? How do gender / sexuality impact access to urban spaces and why? How are conceptions of gender and sexuality reinforced, challenged, or subverted through gendered / sexed bodies and the urban spaces they inhabit? And more.

For more information about this conference, click on the following links to download supplemental materials

2011 Conference Schedule (PDF)
2011 Presenter Bios (PDF)
Gender, Sexuality, and Urban Spaces: Working Papers Collection
**An online publication compiled by graduate student conference organizers and published in 2012**

Who's Laughing? The Politics of Humor
April 4th - 5th, 2008
The Stata Center, MIT


Jokes, satire, parody, and comedic performance can be powerful tools for challenging the status quo or for conforming to it. They have the potential to transform discourse, yet it is in these forms that our most troubling and violently disfiguring assumptions about gender, race, class, and sexual orientation can find their longest life. "Humor" can both enable and disable speech; it is available to some and prohibited for others.

How can or do we as scholars, teachers, activists, and persons use humor to create and build awareness? What are the roles of irony, satire, parody, and comedic performance in oppression and resistance to oppression—historically, in the present, and possibly in the future? How does humor work with/against ideas of free expression? Who has the right of free expression and who does not? To what extent does "humor" rely on an us/them mentality and what kinds of social, cultural, and political portraits does it create?

For more information about this conference, click on the following links to download supplemental materials

2008 Conference Schedule (PDF)
2008 Presenter Bios (PDF)

Beyond Revolution or Behind It? The Politics and Practice of Contemporary Feminism across Academic and Activist Communities
March 23rd - 24th, 2007
The Stata Center, MIT

This cutting edge conference grows out of our interest as academics and activists to understand the relationship between practice, experience, and theory. Theories of race, multiculturalism, Marxism, postcolonialism, and feminism ground work in Women's and Gender Studies – we will consider what realities these theories address (or ignore), what praxis they strengthen (or fail to), what communities they reach, and which they may leave behind. Is the grassroots and activist sentiment inspiring these concepts trumped by the theoretical vocabulary used to describe them? Do the pressures of academies and institutions limit the execution of diverse expressions of feminism in the classroom and on the ground?

In dynamic conversations and strategy sessions we will confront the multiple ways our identities as community members, academics, activists, and/or researchers inform the ways in which we conduct our work and share our knowledge. From here, we will address and question the real and imagined boundaries between activism and academia, reflecting positive collaboration and empowering relationships across multiple fields.

This conference will showcase investigations into and models of cross-disciplinary and cross-community collaboration. Bringing together alternative activist scholarly and community work, we will represent a new vision of radical pedagogy and integrative practice.

In an effort to model the alternative methodology addressed in the conference abstract, this conference will follow a non-traditional structural and organizational format. Presentations took the form of open dialogues; panels were followed by topic-based, hands-on workshops; and other opportunities were included for attendees to share their knowledge, experience, and opinions equally with topic presenters.

For more information about this conference, click on the following links to download supplemental materials

2007 Conference Schedule (PDF)
2007 Presenter Bios (PDF)

Shifting Gender Identities in the face of War, Globalization, and Natural Disaster
March 30 & 31, 2006
The Stata Center, MIT

It may be said that we live in desperate times. Following September 11, 2001, it became 'unpatriotic' for U.S. citizens to question or criticize their presidential administration while, in the global arena, that same administration claimed that engaging in so-called 'pre-emptive,' warfare was both moral and necessary. Powerful social and political forces seek to undermine gains made by racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual minorities since the mid-twentieth century, even as the culture at large pays lip service to increasingly corporatized and sanitized notions of 'diversity.' And while the aforementioned administration invoked the rhetoric of an equal and free society to justify its continued presence in Iraq, massive hurricanes in the American south revealed deep domestic disparities around class and race that the administration seemed ill-prepared to acknowledge, much less address or rectify. Moreover, devastating and nearly unparalleled natural disasters in Southeast Asia and Pakistan revealed just how deep the divide is between wealth and poverty on the global scale. Human trafficking and other forms of exploitation, environmental degradation, border disputes and enduring conflicts around racial, ethnic, and national identities continue, seemingly unabated, around the world. What does this mean in an age we have come to call 'globalized,' in which the flow of information, labor, goods, and bodies takes place with unprecedented speed and in ever-shifting patterns? And in the context of women's, gender, and queer studies, what does it mean for women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, and anyone else who stands outside or astride the boundaries of conventional gender/sexual norms? Furthermore, are we, as scholars and/or activists, prepared for our advancing future? In what ways are we prepared or, perhaps more importantly, unprepared? And ultimately, where do we go from here?

For more information about this conference, click on the following links to download supplemental materials

2006 Conference Schedule (Word)
2006 Presenter Bios (PDF)

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Contact Us

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