RIT to Explore Women and Work in the Age of Information

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Two-day symposium begins Oct. 24

Women in the workplace have come a long way in the last century, but where are they now? And where are they going from there?

Issues of women and work-from Rosie the Riveter to women and the digital divide-will be the topic of a two-day symposium on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus, Oct. 24 and 25.

Women and Work in the Age of Information, a William A. Kern Communications Symposium, is sponsored by RITís College of Liberal Arts in cooperation with the Womenís Studies Quarterly, the Feminist Press and RITís Womenís Center.

The annual Kern Communications Symposia bring scholars, students and practitioners together to explore the intersections of communication issues and gender.

The symposium will start with A Movie History of Women and Work-from Fact to Fiction-from 9 to 6 p.m. in the Carlson Building auditorium. Films shown will include Rosie the Riveter (2001), Valley of the Boys (2000), Working Women of the World (2000), Desk Set (1957), Nine to Five (1980) and Bread and Roses (2001).

"Information is at the center of our economy and womenís employment in that sector continues to present a lop-sided picture," says, Diane Hope, Kern Professor in Communications, editor of Womenís Studies Quarterly and conference coordinator. "In the high-paying technological professions women are but a small minority. Yet in the communication professions that create content and manage and retrieve information, the number of women equals and often exceeds that of men. Why is this so? This symposium will explore these complex issues of career choice, equity and opportunity for women from a variety of viewpoints."

Hope will give the opening remarks at 7:30 p.m. in Ingle Auditorium. Organizational consultant and author Nina Gregg will present the keynote speech, Women and Work in the Age of Information: Progress, Setbacks and Opportunities. Gregg is a member of Cornell Universityís Worker Voice, Unions and Economic Development Project.

The symposium will continue at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, with Marianne Siemietkowski Needhamís presentation, Cisco Learning Institute Gender Initiatives.

Needham is the international program manager for the Cisco Learning Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes educational research and tools. The gender-initiatives project is designed to increase the number of women pursing technological careers.

On Friday, a series of panels in the Student Alumni Union will address the following timely issues:

  • 10:30-11:45 a.m., Women in the IT Pipeline, moderated by Carol Richardson, professor and department chair of electrical, computer and telecommunications engineering technology. This panel will discuss the decline in the number of women IT workers, computer programmers and computer system analysts and scientists. Panelists will include Edith Lawson, professor and chair of computer science; Jessica Bayliss, assistant professor of computer scientist; Franz Foltz, assistant professor of science technology and society; Needham, Michelle Magee, information technology program coordinator, Nancy Schlinger, information technology graduate student and Monroe Community College program coordinator.

  • 2:15-3:30 p.m., Professional Perspectives, moderated by Hope. A panel of women from various information-based careers will discuss challenges, opportunities and obstacles for women in their professions. Panelists will include Terria Jenkins, trademark counsel, Eastman Kodak Co.; Franziska Frey, assistant professor of print media at RIT; Livia Tenzer, editorial and acquisitions editor, Feminist Press; Chan McKenzie, director, Wallace Memorial Library; Ann Revell-Perchar, Revell-Pechar Inc.

  • 3:45-5 p.m., Women and the Digital Divide: Who Benefits in the Information Age?, moderated by Julie White, RITís Womenís Center. This panel will explore how information technologies are changing the lives of some women for the better, while others are being left out.

    For more information about the symposium, contact Diane Hope at 585-475-6053. Sign-language interpreters will be provided upon request and subject to availability.

    About the Kern Communications Symposia and Women's Studies Quarterly:

    The William A. Kern Professorship in Communications was established as an endowment by the Rochester Telephone Company to commemorate the 100 anniversary of the company and to provide a memorial for a former company president who served as an RIT trustee from 1959 to 1964. The endowment helps provide instruction and research into contemporary communication issues.

    Women's Studies Quarterly is a peer-reviewed, theme-based journal published by the Feminist Press and the City University of New York in cooperation with RIT. WSQ is the oldest continuing womenís studies journal in the United States. Past editors of WSQ include Janet Zandy, professor of language and literature at RITís College of Liberal Arts.