The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative is pleased to announce a Call for Proposals for the first of five major annual symposia sponsored by the American Women’s History Initiative. Year one’s theme, Working Women: The Smithsonian Institution as a Case Study, seeks to uncover not only the influences women have had at the Smithsonian, and in its reach across the world, but also their pathways and obstacles. Through a methodical and introspective process, focusing on examples across the Smithsonian and at all levels of service, Working Women: The Smithsonian Institution as a Case Study endeavors to look to the past in order to help us set goals for the future.
Please see the Call for Proposals below, or at this link.
Submit proposals to BecauseOfHerStory@si.edu by Friday, July 19.
To register, please click here.
The Smithsonian employed its first woman, Jane Waddell Turner, in 1857 as a librarian. By the late nineteenth century, there were two women curators. For decades, women leaders at the Smithsonian remained—and some would argue continue to remain—as the exceptions, not the rule. Indeed, the first female director, Lisa Suter Taylor, was appointed in 1969. Fifty years later, this symposium (the first of a five-year series sponsored by the American Women’s History Initiative) examines the topic of women at the Smithsonian as a microcosm and reflection of larger societal trends of the last 150 years in the United States. With the Smithsonian as a case study, we will study the intersections between national and institutional histories as we inherit them today. We feel that it is imperative to reflect on how the Smithsonian itself is implicated in the issues of gender discrimination and exclusion that the American Women’s History Initiative seeks to address. This will enable us to understand how these histories of Smithsonian women at work connect to experiences far beyond our walls.
We seek to uncover not only the influences women have had at the Smithsonian, and in its reach across the world, but also their pathways and obstacles. Through a methodical and introspective process, focusing on examples across the Smithsonian and at all levels of service, Working Women: The Smithsonian Institution as a Case Study endeavors to look to the past in order to set goals for the future.
Topics may include:
- What opportunities have women had at the Smithsonian, and how did they get them?
- What roles have women played at the Smithsonian and how have they changed?
- Over time, what challenges have women employees faced, and how have they met, circumvented, overcome, or adapted to those challenges?
- When were the first women of color hired at the Smithsonian, and for what kind of work?
- What is the history of women of color at the Smithsonian?
- How have women been reflected in or overlooked by the Smithsonian’s employment, research and collecting practices? How has that impacted the ideas that the Smithsonian promotes about the United States?
- What are the relationships between collection strengths and weaknesses, research undertakings and archival absences, gendered labor profiles, and patronage patterns? How are these visible in various Smithsonian collections, programs, and publications?
- How do intersecting biases, such as race or sexuality, appear in Smithsonian collections or how are they signaled by absences in collections?
- What scholarly projects have women authored? How has this influenced scholarship?
- Who are the “hidden figures” in the history of women in Smithsonian science and humanities? In finance, HR, security, IT, facilities, and communications?
- What do we learn from comparing patterns across disciplines (e.g. astrophysics, conservation science, humanities etc.), or between Smithsonian, university, and private sector employers in these areas?
- What lessons can be learned from these histories? How are we addressing these issues in the current day, and how can we employ these lessons to formulate a map to the future?
Format ideas: We welcome roundtables, lightning talks, assembled panels, individual papers timed to between fifteen to twenty minutes, two-minute first-person storytelling, or any other creative format. Additionally, we invite proposals for our digital poster session, in which participants present scholarship and personal stories through Powerpoint that includes text and images for hosting on the AWHI website. Presenters may choose to share their digital posters on their own social media accounts using the symposium hashtag.
These formats may include introductory summaries and institutional histories; deep-dive papers on specific figures or topics; panel discussions for self-reflection, critique and transparency; larger assessments of SI as microcosm of workforce issues; oral history workshop sessions leading into podcast series; and mentoring labs or convenings for leadership practices sharing across generations at the Smithsonian. Presentations will be recorded and offered as webcasts.
Submit proposals to BecauseOfHerStory@si.edu by Friday, July 19. Proposals should be no more than 250 words per presentation, include a title, and have a professional bio (less than 300 words) for each presenter. Proposals will be notified about their status by Monday, August 26.
The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative seeks to deepen our knowledge and appreciation of women’s contributions in American society in the contemporary moment and the historical past, to stimulate conversation about the ways in which they have changed, and to understand their continuing influence in American and global contexts. The Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative is inclusive, highlighting the stories of those who identify as women and those who were designated female but self-identify differently
Submit proposals to BecauseOfHerStory@si.edu