School of Liberal Arts

Held February 7 at Union College, the conference was an opportunity for area scholars to present academic papers and poster presentations on gender and sexuality topics.

Ausra Park, Ph.D., associate professor of international relations, and Zoe Schlesinger ’20 presented together on “Women Presidents in Eastern Europe,” based on multi-year research they conducted through the CURCA Summer Scholars program.

“I had an amazing experience presenting with Dr. Park,” said Schlesinger. “After spending two summers researching Eastern European female presidents, this presentation felt like the ‘victory lap’ for all my hard work. I also really enjoyed hearing about all the amazing work being done in feminist studies throughout the Capital Region.”

By 2019 there were seven women presidents in post-communist Europe: Latvia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, and the Republic of Georgia. Female political leadership in Eastern Europe in particular remains an understudied topic.

“Zoe carried out a detailed and extensive content analysis of several hundred speeches given by three presidents—Latvian, Lithuanian, and Kosovo—who have already completed their terms in office,” said Dr. Park. “The most surprising finding from her laborious undertaking was that feminism as a topic or theme did not have any significant prominence in the political agendas of these three presidents. We found that to be truly amazing if not shocking data result!”

Shannon Draucker, Ph.D, assistant professor of English, presented her paper “‘Dead White Men in Wigs’ to ‘Half-Naked Wom(e)n in Sadistic High Heels’: Transgressive Embodiments on the Classical Music Stage,” about classical artists Yuja Wang and Amadéus Leopold, whom she said are resisting some of the traditionalist codes of performance and comportment in the classical music world.  

Several Siena students gave poster presentations at a late afternoon reception.

Rachel Clark ’20 presented “MissRepresentation: A Recent History of the Bechdel Test’s Feminist Guide through Romantic Comedies”

“My capstone research focused on the representational politics of film through the genre of romantic comedies,” said Clark. “How do these films lead to the public and private perception of women and women's rights? My research ultimately led to an analysis and reevaluation of the effectiveness of the Bechdel test. I ended up proposing my own take on three amendments to this test to more authentically represent female characters in the future of film.” 

Elizabeth Allegretti ’20 presented “The Effects of Gender Socialization on STEM Fields,” which she said looked at the socializing effects of toys and examined specific toys that are considered traditionally feminine like Barbies and their negative ramifications. 

“After looking at the negative effects of traditional gendered toys, I looked at science kits and used predictive analysis to argue that the feminine marketing of science kits ‘for girls’ is just as instrumental in keeping girls out of science as are dolls and other overtly feminine toys,” she said. “Being a part of this conference was a great experience. People seemed to be really interested in my research and I also enjoyed listening to presentations of research that others were doing. Everyone was very passionate about their work and seemed really interested in making a difference.”

Also presenting posters were Khizra Awan ’20 on “The Politics of ‘Cool,’ Assimilation and Appropriation: An Analysis of Black and South Asian Race Relations in Contemporary USA” and Megan Jones ’20 on “Representation and Subjugation: A Critical Analysis of the Presence and Place of Women and Minorities in Jean Toomer’s Cane.”