Many Topics, One Umbrella

Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies symposium

Faith Park '16 presents “Contraception Among Cameroonian Women in Polygamous Marriages." Photo by Carl Socolow '77.

ROWGS student symposium brings together students from a wide range of disciplines

by Tony Moore

Co-sponsored by the President’s Commission for Women and the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGSS), the 23rd annual Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality (ROWGS) Student Symposium recently brought together students from a wide range of disciplines to explore a network of issues ranging from school shootings to contraception in Cameroon. And as Elizabeth Lee, chair of WGSS and associate professor of art history, noted, the event might be the “most interdisciplinary student research forum on campus,” with students majoring in 10 diverse areas presenting their work.

One such student, Sara Tyberg ’16 (sociology), presented “Entitlement and Anguish: An Analysis of Masculinity and Misogyny in American School Shootings” as part of the Structures of Power and Violence panel. Tyberg—who also presented at the Central Pennsylvania Consortium’s Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Symposium at Gettysburg College earlier this month—examined qualitative case-study analysis related to 10 American school shootings over the past 20 years, with a focus on the manifestation of misogynistic ideologies in these incidents.

“I personally realized the connection between misogyny and mass shootings after the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), shooting in 2014,” Tyberg says, noting that the perpetrator, Elliot Rodger, targeted sororities and revealed his contempt for women in a 137-page manifesto. “I began doing more personal investigation into other school shootings and realized the UCSB shooting wasn't as unique as it initially seemed. In fact, I found that misogynistic beliefs, attitudes and behaviors manifested in multiple school shootings.”

Tyberg was among student presenters majoring in Africana studies, anthropology, biology, psychology and French, among others. The diversity in majors showcased how important and ingrained women’s and gender issues are across a wide spectrum of interests and areas of study.

“The experience was really wonderful,” says Tyberg. “At this point, I've grown so personally invested in my research that it feels like I'm sharing a part of me when I talk about it.”

Other research presented included: “Speech or Sex: The Porn Debate and American Politics,” by Abigail Preston ’16 (Russianpolitical science); “Sex Education and ‘The Good Life’: Considering Sex Education as a Tool of Bio-Power,” by Elizabeth Lanigan ’16 (English, women’s, gender and sexuality studies); and “Contraception Among Cameroonian Women in Polygamous Marriages,” by Faith Park ’16 (self-developed).

“My peers are doing amazing work across a variety of disciplines, and everyone benefits at a gathering like this,” says Tyberg. “Presenters are able to reflect on their work and gain experience in public speaking, and audience members learn not only more about a variety of topics but also more about the range of women's and gender studies research being conducted around campus.”

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Published April 28, 2016