Women and Gender Studies Program Holds Annual Conference on Women and Gender

By Amanda Sulkosky,
Stillman News Writer &
McKenna Ronquillo,
Graduate Assistant of Media Relations

women and gender
The Women and Gender Studies Program at Seton Hall University hosted their annual Conference on Women and Gender 2016 on Friday, Feb. 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event was open to current students and faculty at Seton Hall, alumni, and the general public.
This year, instead of having a theme, the organizers wanted to offer a broader range of freedom for the sessions. Their only requirement was that the sessions had to involve current discussion on women and gender. This helped the conference attain their primary goal of providing an “interface between the academic and the experiential in order to enrich lived life.”

The day began at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a breakfast buffet. This occurred on the fourth floor atrium in Jubilee Hall. People who attended the breakfast were able to talk about the conference and see which session they were planning on attending. One could feel the excitement in the air.

Session one began at 9 a.m. and went until roughly 10:15 a.m. There were four sessions to choose from. The first was titled, “Gender and Making of Science,” which was led by Cecilia Marzabadi. The second option was “Undergraduate Roundtable on Intersectionality: Gender/Race/Ism.” The chair of this was King Mott. “Gender, Marketing, and Authorship” was led by Judith Stark. A fourth option was “Women, Gender, and Servant-Leadership.” This was led by Leslie Bunnage.

The second section was from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. Once again, there were four options to choose from. The first was “Gender and Feminism in Turkey and South Asia,” which was conducted by Amrita Ghosh. “Gender and History: Parenting, Politics and Peace” was another option. This was conducted by Janine Buckner. Mary Balkun, a professor of English, and Amanda Mita, an archives specialist, presented the “Trina Padilla de Sanz Digital Archive: Recovering the Work of a Poet, Feminist, and Activist.” The final option was “Women and Gender Studies Essay Prize Winners,” which was presented by Angela Weisl.

These two sessions were followed by an awards luncheon. Participants of the conference walked back over to Jubilee Hall to have lunch in the fourth floor atrium. While eating, awards were given out. The high school essay prize and Elizabeth Ann Seton Undergraduate essay prize were both given out. The high school essay prize was presented by Mary Balkun, professor and chair of the Department of English, to Aeva Karlsrud, of Frenchtown, a junior at Delaware Valley Regional High School. Karlsrud read her essay “Art Activist, Anonymous: The Woman Who Changed the Art World.” The Elizabeth Ann Seton Center for Women’s Studies writing prize was awarded to Toni-Anne Fajardo, of Secaucus, an accounting major with minors in English and fine arts. Fajardo presented her essay “The Marine Going Beyond the Binary: Lucy Brewer’s Subversion of Gendered Behaviors”.The Woman of the Year award, which award recognizes an outstanding female at Seton Hall who have significantly helped the women at the University, was also given out. Dr. Joan Guetti presented this award to Professor Bernadette Wilkowski. She was chosen for this award for her ability to inspire student engagement and success for over thirty years, not only in the classroom, but beyond as well.

“I am incredibly humbled to have received this prestigious award,” said Wilkowski, of Roselle.

Wilkowski commented, “As a professional woman, I try to inspire, challenge and empower young women at Seton Hall with kindness and compassion, also conveying a definite set of values.”

She added, “I learned how important it is to talk and listen to young women–and young men, showing interest in their dreams, goals and achievements. My precious Catholic faith keeps me centered, and I hope that I will be blessed to continue working in this special ‘vineyard’ called Seton Hall University.”

The third and final session followed this award luncheon. The first option was “Sexuality and Institutional Safety in Heteronormative Settings,” presented by Alice Ristroph. “Gendering Responses to Terror: The Women of Lockerbie” was another option presented by Peter Reader. Ines Murzaku presented “Gendered Faith? Christian Feminism and Women’s Vocation.” The last option was “Women of Mindanao: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Female Divinity, Activism and Indigenism,” which was chaired by Peter Savastano. The last event for the day was the keynote speech by sociologist Rifat Salam. It occurred in the Chancellor’s Suite of the University Center. She is an associate professor at the City University of New York and author of “Negotiating Tradition, Becoming American: Family, Gender and Autonomy for Second Generation South Asians.” During the speech, Salam discussed “Negotiating Identity, Navigating Divides, and Building Bridges: South Asian Women in Millennial America.”

She also expanded on the research that she did for her first book.

Next, the Women and Gender Studies Program will host the Guerrilla Girls on Monday, March 14 at 4:00 p.m. in the University Center’s Seton Hall Theatre.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 23rd print edition.

Contact Amanda at

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