College explores gender issues in year-long event

The way that we perceive gender differences will be investigated in this year’s year-long symposium “Exploring Gender and Relationships.”
Zach Dorsch photo: Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., took time to sign her books following her presentation at Tuesday’s event.Zach Dorsch photo: Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., took time to sign her books following her presentation at Tuesday’s event.
This marks the fourth year that Mercyhurst faculty members from various academic disciplines have come together to organize a year-long series exploring an important issue. These series help to allow teachers to explore certain issues in unique ways and with more depth out of the classroom.

John Olszowka, Ph.D., history professor and coordinator of this year’s event, decided to make gender issues the focus after realizing that 2012 will be the 40th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, a piece of legislation that Olszowka calls “a momentous shift in government policy dealing with gender equity.”

Olszowka plans for the event to cover a broad range of topics dealing with gender.

As an interdisciplinary effort, the events will appeal to people with a variety of interests.

“The idea is to bring the various departments and disciplines of the college together,” said Olszowka, “because there is a connection in what we do.”

In addition to speakers, the event will include performers, a round table discussion and a dance performance.
Olszowka will also include a film series as one of the events, and a film that explores the issue of gender will be shown at some point during each term.

Although many of the events are already planned, more are frequently being added to the schedule.

“(The schedule) grows, we are sort of rolling it out in terms,” said Olszowka.

He hopes the event will get a reaction from the Erie community as well as the Mercyhurst community.

“A lot of these events are geared towards students, but they can contribute to the community as well,” he said.

Speakers from previous years have seen a large amount of Erie community members in attendance.

This week will include two speakers as a part of this series.

Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D., a scholar who is internationally known for her studies on the female image in advertising, will be the keynote speaker. Her speech was on Tuesday.

Thursday, Sept. 22, Monica Biernat, Ph.D., from the University of Kansas will talk about the issues of stereotyping and prejudice.

The “Exploring Gender and Relationships” series will also include a second keynote speaker, leadership expert Dan Mulhern, in February.