Colloquium discusses gender and society

Cal State Long Beach faculty members Deborah Thien and Savitri Singh-Carlson were the featured speakers at the Women’s Research Colloquium on Wednesday, April 28th.

The event, held at The Pointe in the Walter Pyramid, was hosted by the President’s Commission on the Status of Women as part of a long-standing tradition that dates back to 1986.  

The colloquium also featured a buffet dinner, the Advancement of Women Awards, and other speakers, including President F. King Alexander and PCSW Chair  Kirstyn Chun.

Chun, who is a staff psychologist and assistant professor at CSULB, feels “it is important to make sure women’s issues retain a high level of visibility” because “our young women growing up still struggle different academic and career issues that their male counterparts may not experience.” 

Deborah Thien, an assistant professor of human geography, presented “What’s Emotion got to do with it? The Unexpected Results of a Feminist Analysis of Emotion and Geography.”

Her presentation discussed how men and women are expected to handle emotion, in relation to geography and through the eyes of feminist analysis.

“Researchers, scientists and geographers have been encouraged to keep an emotional distance from research ‘subjects,'” she said. “This has led me, among other scholars, to ask what are the effects of such sundering of emotion from encounter?”

She also discussed how gender roles, social constraints and environment change affects how we perceive and act in differing situations.

According to Thien, gender “shapes our social and spatial environments.”

At the same time, “our social and spatial environments shape us in gendered ways,” she said.

For example, how we act in a deserted parking lot at night is much different to how we treat a city park during the day time.

One of the most popular assumptions about women is that they are “emotional experts” that are suited for care taking. For men, the expectation is to avoid emotional expression. These two assumptions, Thien said, are part of what “constitute women’s over-representation in carework” and men’s tendency toward “male violence against self and others – for example, in the work of soldiering.”

“Emotions are deeply and intimately a part of how we know the world around us; as geographers seeking to understand the dynamic geographies around us, we need to consider what place emotion has and how we are differently, unequally affected. We need to keep emotion in,” Thien said.

Singh-Carlson followed Thien’s presentation with “The Value of Peer Mentoring for Gynecological and Breast Cancer Survivors Post Treatment.” Singh-Carlson is an assistant professor of nursing who focused on psychosocial issues that affect cancer patients, specifically how having a mentor can help a cancer patient.

Having a mentor that has already experienced cancer is helpful for cancer patients who want advice on what decisions to make and who need a source of positivity and “provides a safe space to allow patients to be angry,” Singh-Carlson said.

Elizabeth Lerma, who is a senior information systems major at CSULB, said she found Singh-Carlson’s research helpful her sister suffers from breast cancer.

“I want to get as involved as I can,” Lerma said. “I want to learn how I can support my sister emotionally.”



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