The National Women’s Studies Association national conference and the American Society for Engineering Education national conference are back to back – I’m at NWSA now, and ASEE is next week.* While I want to blog about suggestions for how to work conferences, my morning of wandering ’round the conference center for NWSA has raised some stark differences between these conferences for me.
Here are a couple that are occurring to me:
- Sponsored by defense contractors like Northrup Grumman
- Everyone wears business clothes
- Empty women’s bathrooms
- No mention of labour unions
- Evenings unprogrammed except for banquets (which cost a lot)
- Registration fees of $475 for regular members
- Exposition composed of computer software makers, engineering textbook makers, engineering education programs, and employers
- Lots of men and a few women
- Concurrent sessions structured by engineering divisions
- Sponsored by feminist organizations like Women Make Films and Ms
- Lots of skirts and flowing scarves and impressive tattoos
- Gender-neutral bathrooms
- Hotels and bags staffed/made by unionized workers
- Films and concerts played in the evening
- Registration fees based on annual income, ranging from $115-175 for regular members
- Exposition composed of artists, authors, activist groups, and book companies.
- Lots of people who identify as queer rather than as men or women
- Sessions that include creative writing, performance art, as well as critical theory and
Going to NWSA is a good reminder for me that there are different ways of having conferences than just the way ASEE does it.
What are your conferences like in terms of structure and character?
* Although I confess I’m not going this year – three conferences in a row is too much for me…