Women’s and Gender Studies Department hosts feminism lecture series

With health and gender in mind, Sonoma State University’s Women’s and Gender Studies department is continually hosting the feminist lecture series throughout Fall 2014 in Stevenson hall on select Thursdays at noon. 

The lecture series is specifically focused on sexual violence, mental health, sexual education and social change as well as other topics. 

“What we do is bring in eight different speakers who are community members to come in and share their expertise with the class. It’s a broad array of people working in health fields, social health, mental health, community health, physical health,” said Women’s and Gender studies professor Lena McQuade. 

The first lecture began on Aug. 28 and featured a lecture by Verity, which is a sexual assault and abuse prevention program in the community. According to their website, Verity also gives counseling, intervention and education around the community.  

In McQuade’s WGS 301 class, which is incorporated into the lectures for credit, a research estimate was discussed and included the fact that over one-fourth to one-fifth of women on a college campus go through “attempted or completed” rape during the whole duration of their college careers. 

“A goal in a class like this is to introduce students to feminisims with an ‘s’, in that it’s plural. So many different people have different perspectives on what feminism is,” McQuade said. 

She added that in her class students work with a “rough” idea of what feminism is and from that students learn ways of ending gender-based oppression such as sexism and building methods of social justice.

“How can we confront the oppression of sexism or the oppression of rape culture and how can we all take a role in ending that, and how can we take a role in being community members being accountable to each other? This, essentially, is what feminism is,” McQuade said.  

McQuade discussed the the larger issues that affect women, which include the institutionalization of sexism and the way sexisms exist in our society. She also spoke on the growing industry of computer science and how women are discouraged to study computer science or engineering as an example of contemporary sexism.  

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median yearly pay for a computer and information research scientist is $102,190. Furthermore, according to the National Center for Women and Information Technology, there has been a 64 percent decline in female freshman in college who want to major in computer science between the years of 2000 and 2012.  

“It’s not just about women’s issues, we talk about issues that have to do with men, with the LGBT community, with people across the board. I would recommend everyone to come out [to the lectures]. We have amazing speakers that come. This particular semester is going to be more about women’s health,” said Sonoma State senior and Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies major Tamaiah Thompson. 

The next lecture is scheduled for this Thursday, and will cover the topic of positive mental health with women in the African American community. The lectures are free and open to everyone and begin at noon in Stevenson 1002. For more information on the lecture series,  students are encouraged to contact McQuade or the Women’s and Gender Studies department in Rachel Carson Hall.