Women’s symposium upcoming
This year on March 5, SMU will host its 49th annual Women’s Symposium.
The event was started in 1966 by the late Emmie V. Baine, SMU Dean of Women from 1962 to 1988. It was created as a part of the university’s 50th Anniversary celebration as a way “to encourage women to assume roles of social and political leadership within their communities; to provide a forum in which women and men may examine the societal impact of the changing roles of women; and to provide an opportunity for female and male students to develop leadership skills within a multigenerational, multiethnic model,” as stated on the SMU Student Affairs website.
The Symposium has a different theme each year, and this year “Women Are Superheroes” was chosen. The event is now planned largely by CORE and the SMU Women’s Center, but that wasn’t always the case.
“The Women’s Symposium pre-dates our Women’s Center,” Director Karen Click said. “It was actually at the Women’s Symposium that a lot of ideas came up like we need a Women’s Center; maybe we should have women and gender studies as an academic field.”
The Symposium boasts a long list of esteemed past speakers, including Hilary Clinton, Margaret Mead and Maya Angelou. This year’s keynote speaker is Kim Olson, former U.S. Air Force Fighter Pilot and founder of the non-profit Grace After Fire.
“The overall theme for the whole day is Women are Superheroes, and we’re taking that literally and figuratively,” Click said.
In addition to the keynote address, the Symposium includes multiple workshops, interest sessions, a resource fair and an awards ceremony honoring the following Dallas-area women’s rights activists: Monica Urbaniak, Cecilia Boone, De’Edra S. Williams, Mavis B. Knight, Ethene Jones and Linda Hall.
One of the workshops, titled “Pow! Women Superheroes,” features David Hopkins, an Arlington-based comic book writer whose goal is to create characters with whom everyone can identify. He strives to be sensitive to women’s roles in comic books, and be an exception to the rule of sexualized female superheroes.
The most important people in my life are women, my wife and my daughter and my mother,” Hopkins said. “I want my comics to reflect my own values.”
One of his characters, Emily Edison, who he will be talking about at the Symposium, was created for his daughter’s enjoyment.
“I’m going to go through the history of American comics, point out some odd moments, and going forward about what we should be sensitive about in the future,” Hopkins said.
As the Symposium approaches its 50th anniversary, those involved in its planning have some big ideas.
“Ellen DeGeneres is my dream speaker,” said SMU senior and CORE Co-President Jessica Mitchell. “She really is a superhero to me… She encompasses what it is to be a woman.”
Click sees greatness in the future of the Symposium, and wants SMU to be proud of the event, which is the longest running program of its nature in the country.
“I just want it to be huge and seen,” Click said. “What I want is for SMU to take a lot of pride in those 50 years because we were early in launching a program like this and need to take time to be proud of that history.”
Registration for the SMU Women’s Symposium is open. Click here for more information.