students at colloquium

 Industrial design students Aish Baratan, left, and Nikki Escobar at the podium during last week's colloquium.

From Hollywood to Washington, D.C., women are working to raise awareness of the need for gender equality. The national issue is evident on a local level in Long Beach, where authors, chefs, politicians, and educators all find ways to champion this cause.

At Long Beach State, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) has been actively advocating for women for decades. Founded in 1989, PCSW has a mission “to ensure that the University responds to the needs of women by removing inequities and providing a supportive educational, working and social environment for all members of the campus community.”

“The PCSW committee is composed of CSULB faculty, staff, and students,” PCSW Chairman Dr. Venetta Campbell said last Thursday. “This diversity allows us to reflect the collective voices of our campus and assess needs as our population evolves.”

In a tribute to Women’s History Month, PCSW hosted its annual Women’s Research Colloquium last Thursday, March 7. The event, designed to highlight research done by Cal State Long Beach and/or related to women’s issues, featured presentations by faculty members and students.

Provost Dr. Brian Jersky acknowledged the importance of PCSW and thanked the organization for its work to remove barriers and advance women’s research.

“It is past time for women to take their rightful seats at the tables of power,” Jersky said as he introduced the speakers.

LBSU anthropology assistant professor Dr. Kara Miller shared her experience in Uganda, where she researched the realities of reproductive health care in a male-dominated society. Despite the country’s patriarchal social norms, Miller said Ugandan women remain important as midwives and traditional birth attendants.

Dr. Melissa Maceyko, a lecturer on anthropology and linguistics, shared her findings on the impact of gender in language. Her presentation gave the audience a glimpse of some of the techniques American women employ in political discourse.

“A popular understanding is that women are emotional and men are rational,” Maceyko said.

But, Maceyko said, her research showed that some women choose to take this “negative” perception and use it in an empowering way.

Industrial design students Aish Baratan and Nikki Escobar discussed their research and how it propelled them to create emotionally powerful products.

Baratan said that studying sexual assault data made her want to physically embed the results in society. Using “discursive design to inspire ideological and social change,” she created EMPATHIA, a lighting installation where blinking red sections indicate areas of reported attacks on campus.

Escobar said her field research inspired her to change the perception of people with prosthetics. After conducting extensive interviews with amputees and manufacturers, she worked to find ways to increase user comfort and decrease social stigma. Ultimately, she developed an award-winning prosthetic limb liner called Python.

“The students and faculty we have here are amazing,” Campbell said. “PCSW works to recognize and identify their contributions and to help women develop a leadership mindset. It is a real honor to serve on a commission that values and promotes these skills.”

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