Notes from the planning meeting for The Scholar and the Feminist conference, June 3rd, 1992

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Minutes from the Scholar and the Feminist Planning Committee Meeting June 3, 1992

1. The following committee members were present: Leslie Calman, Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women Professor, Political Science, Barnard College

Valerie Green, Associate Director, Barnard Center for Research on Women Jane Celwyn, Director, Office of Career Services, Barnard College Lynn Chancer, Professor, Sociology, Barnard College

Michael Delli Carpini, Professor, Political Science, Barnard College Miriam Friedlander, Former New York City Council Member

Chris Grillo, Assistant Director, Direct Marketing Training Program, NOW-New York City

Helene Kaplan, Chair, Board of Trustees, Barnard College

Terry Rogers, Professor, Sociology, Barnard College

Rosalind Rosenberg, Professor, History, Barnard College

Rachel Rosenbloom, Women's Health Action Mobilization (WHAM!) Christine Royer, Vice President for Public Affairs, Barnard College Judith Russell, Professor, Political Science, Barnard College

Bob Shapiro, Professor, Political Science, Columbia University Elizabeth Schneider, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School Jennifer Siegel, Executive Director, NOW- New York City

Vivian Taylor, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Barnard College Marcia Welles, Professor, Spanish, Barnard College

2. Introductions

Leslie Calman introduced herself and the Manager of the Center, Valerie Green. The members of the board were asked to introduce themselves.

Leslie described the Scholar and the Feminist Conference as a one day conference held in April focusing on topics pertaining to women. Participants should include both activists and scholars.

She also noted that the attendance at the conference has steadily declined in past years- from 800 participants at some points to 180 participants last year. In order to revitalize the interest of the Barnard Community and the community outside its gates, an interesting topic, a dynamic speaker, and an innovative format are needed.

Leslie also added that the 1993 conference will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Center, so we should aim for a particularly memorable event.

3. Discussion of Topic, and "Audience"

Leslie suggested for discussion "The Women's Movement and its Relation to the State." Judith Russell said that the focus on government is a good idea, for it looks to the future rather than the past, but it may be better to look at things in a broader perspective. It may be more important to address the public's attitudes regarding "women's issues." Judith expressed some concern over the fact that the definition of today's movement is unclear. In order to talk about the way anything is related to the Women's Movement, we must first define it. Rachel Rosenbloom emphasized the point that we should be talking about many different "women's movements," and not one "Movement" to address the needs and concerns of many women.

Lynn Chancer suggested that a focus on "women and the state", would keep add theoretical interest.

Terry Rogers and Chris Grillo both felt that the question of the state's importance in the lives of American women should be discussed, and asked if the conference should have a national or a comparative focus. Chris Grillo suggested workshops on what women want in America, and elsewhere. Terry Rogers noted that the Roper Organization's On-Line Data base contains a lot of information. Bob Shapiro has access to this data base.

Rosalind Rosenberg said one question to discuss at the conference would be: Do women politicians really make a difference, or are they like all of the others? Leslie noted the Center for American Women in Politics has done studies that indicate that women who are conservative Republicans are more liberal on social issues than men who are conservative Republicans, and so on across all ideological fronts. We could draw on the Center for the American Woman in Politics for speakers.

Liz Schneider asked who the audience for the conference usually was, and whether, given the decline in attendance, we should reach for a broader audience. The conference, she said, has seemed to be academically aimed. is there a desire to do something different? To find a link between theory and practice? is choosing a theoretical topic (such as women and the state) such a goodidea?  

Leslie said that her own preference was for a conference with more of a "how to" component: how do women get power, and how should they use it?

Lynn Chancer agreed that this was important, but didn't think theoretical questions were contrary to pursuing such questions: they're not dichotomous.

Valerie Green cautioned that we should not think in terms of only two sets of participants- academics and politicians- but also of activists. This would allow a younger generation of women to participate, and also be more attractive to students. Rachel Rosenbloom emphasized the importance of diversity in the planning process, Leslie agreed and asked that committee members invite other people to participate.

Vivian Taylor prefers the idea of "Women and State" rather than Women and Politics, as it is more inclusive of different groups of people. Perhaps we can address activism with an academic perspective, for the activists are the

people who are doing things, rather than people merely writing and analyzing the issues. For the later part of the day, Vivian proposed the idea of a workshop pertaining to activism— how to do it, how we got to this point, and where do we go from here.

Liz Schneider agreed with the idea of a broader topic than "Women and Politics" and suggested the idea of women as change-makers. Electoral politics is, indeed, part of the issue, but it would be better to think about many areas in which women exercise power --for example as judges. ls there a difference when women are in power?

Liz also stated the difference between women and politics (addressing just electoral politics), and women and the state (general activism and change- making). Bringing activists and academics together raises questions such as, "What difference does it make to have both Boxer and Feinstein running in California?" She also discussed the idea of addressing the impact of the women's movement, as well as volunteerism.

Helene Kaplan discussed the idea of a powerful women's agenda. What are the women who are now in politics doing to guarantee that women's issues are tackled seriously?

Leslie suggested a possible title: "Women as Change-Makers: Refining a Women's Agenda for Effective Activism."

Michael Delli Carpini summarized the issues we had been discussing:

1. Agenda Setting: ls there a woman's agenda?

2. How do we translate the agenda into political power? Are women in the position now to make changes (e.g., lawyers, judges, activists, etc.)?

3. Once you get women into power, does it make a difference?

Miriam Friedlander thought the conference should address women who are breaking through into politics at higher levels. We have new women going into the Senate. We need to set the tone that women are able to get into politics (i.e. Brown)

3. Discussion of Possible Speakers Liz feels that we should bring in some professional women (judges, accountants, doctors, lawyers), who have had an impact in their fields to talk about how women gain power in traditionally male realms and to examine whether men and women exercise their power differently, especially in light of the fact that many Barnard students are interested in professional careers. Leslie and Helene Kaplan discussed the importance of avoiding political speakers that just set forth a "wish—list". Participants should state not only what women want, but what women can do to get it. Helene noted that there are many crucial issues pertaining to women today, other than abortion. We need powerful, popular, and effective speakers who will address HOW to get what we need. A Christine Royer stated that we need a "distinguished list of women" that would attract an audience. She proposed Ann Richards. Leslie added Ferraro

and Yeakel to the list. Helene reminded everyone of the importance of a balanced ticket, and Leslie pointed that it is very hard to find a Republican feminist. Ruth Mandel, Director of the CAWP, and Johnetta Cole, President of Spellman College, were also mentioned as possible speakers. Liz Schneider said that if the focus is women as change-makers, Anita Hill would be a great speaken

4. Discussion of Format

Leslie opened discussion of "Format" by asking if people preferred large- audience speeches or more participatory workshops.

Miriam Friedlander said that we could have a panel of women, with a key speaker. The key note speaker would be brief and lay out certain aspects- everyone else would each get 5 minutes. They could create a "you can make it" atmosphere.

Leslie proposed the idea of having politicians and academics on the same panel. Judith Russell thought it was a good idea, but that not all academics could hold their own against a politician or an activist.

Valerie Green reminded us that there are also activists who make changes in "non-traditional ways". The format should include scholars, politicians, and activists. Workshops might include panels with one of each. Miriam Friedlander thought that we should restrict our speakers to women in New York, and stay in our political base. She also noted that there are many women in leadership at all levels who deal with the real issues of the day, such as what type of education our children should be getting in universities and schools, as well as censorship, and sex education.

Helene Kaplan said that through her experience she knows that it is better to have less time devoted to lecturing and more time devoted to small groups in which individuals can participate.

The committee discussed expanding the conference to two days. Many members were concerned about the increase in cost and the disjuncture for the audience 9Many of whom would come for only one day.)

Liz Schneider suggested having a couple of prominient speakers, say Richards and Cole, give 15-20 minute speeches addressing certain themes, and then having a discussion between the two. Even the most dynamic of speakers can sound passive without interaction.

Jane Cewlyn proposed that we have one keynote speaker in the morning for a "mobilizing talk", then have smaller panels, then break for lunch, and continue with the second keynote speaker.

Helene Kaplan thinks that Anna Quindlen is a terrific "drawing card". Leslie said that Quindlen is very willing to participate.

Leslie summarized the meeting by saying that the conference should address, broadly, refining an agenda for effective activism and the interaction between women and the state, including activism and the state.

There seemed to be concensus that there should be both a few "prominent" speakers and workshops in which officials , academics, and activists would interact. The next planning meeting will be on June 25 at 5:30.