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Conference Explores Gender and Social Transformation

Key conference organizers Drs. Tan Lin (center) and Esther N. Chow (right)

On July 17-19, three professors and two doctoral students from the Department of Sociology presented at an international conference in Beijing, China. The conference, entitled "Gender and Social Transformation: Global, Transnational, and Local Realities and Perspectives," was co-organized by sociology Professor Esther Ngan-liang Chow and Dr. Tan Lin, Director of Women's Studies Institute of China.

Professors E. Chow ("Globalization and Localities: The Impacts of the Economic Crisis on Migration, Gender, and Work in China"), Bette Dickerson ("Black Senior Women and Sexuality"), and Chengyang Xiao ("Examining Gender Differences in Perceptions of Environmental Issues in China: Safety, Concerns, Economic Salience, and Postmaterialism") presented papers at the conference. They were joined by doctoral student Cynthia Braggs ("Barriers Impacting Leadership in the Global Community: Women, Gender, Power, and Patriarchy) and former doctoral student Laura Toussaint ("Transnational Women's Activism: Intersectionality and Global Networks").

The conference examined the ways that women and gender relations are influenced by societal transformation women and gender relations are shaped by societal transformation economically, politically, socially and culturally in the global, transnational and local contexts and processes from multiple perspectives. Scholars from 24 countries attended the conference, which was sponsored by the Women's Studies Institute of China and the Chinese Women's Research Society.

Chow co-organized the conference to further her vision for advancing global research and scholarship in the field of women's and gender studies. "If you're studying gender and women, these studies should not only be focused on the Western world but also on the developing world," she says.

Chow says that the conference was successful in making a connection between academic study and civil engagement – a necessity for all scholars who care to make a difference in the world.

"In order to experience life, it's important to encourage our students to engage and to find out in what ways their academic education is significantly related to those people that they try to study and serve," says Chow.

Braggs, one of the doctoral students, agrees that the conference adeptly made this connection between theory and practice. Regardless of gender, she says, "presenters of the conference placed emphasis on civil rights and social justice issues specific to improvement of the quality of life where inequalities exist, in the contexts of race, class, gender, and ethnicity."