“…I didn’t feel there was enough outreach”


Gustave M. Berne Professor of Philosophy
IRWGS Core Faculty
IRWGS Director, 2000-01

In 2002 I was struck by the fact that the Institute for Research on Women and Gender was maybe a little bit overly focused on the research part as opposed to on the teaching part. We were teaching our classes and doing a perfectly good job as far as I could tell, but I didn’t feel that there was enough outreach. I felt that the people who already knew they were feminists were willing to find us in Schermerhorn Extension, but there are all of these other people out there who had feminist tendencies or not, as the case may be, that could be encouraged to think about gender in innovative and important ways. I didn’t really have a clear sense of it then because I really was fairly new to it all, but I was struck by—once I started reaching out to people—people around campus who had not been involved in IRWGS were more inclined to be involved than some of my colleagues had predicted.

I know a really good example. We used to have this series of lectures called Feminist Interventions, which I think was a way of encouraging people to think about their research in feminism…As a teacher, what I was really taken by was that, if you actually give people a good opportunity to be feminists, to think about gender, many of them will take you up on it and really absorb those lessons in a way that I think we don’t take seriously enough.