News and Events
Intercultural Affairs Tackles Tough Identity Issues for Women in Politics
A Fox News political contributor and four respected Seaver faculty members rallied around the subject of women in politics for a luncheon and panel discussion held on Thursday, Oct. 2, by the Office of Intercultural Affairs (ICA). The event was the first of a series of lectures, panel discussions, debates, and events from ICA regarding identity and culture.
Sarah Schott, the 2008-09 gender studies intern for women's issues at ICA, planned the event because of her "passion regarding women's issues, both domestically and globally."
"As a journalism major I view the power of writing and the media as an important and significant tool in providing public awareness, especially in this global world we live in," says Schott, a senior whose degree includes an emphasis in women's studies. "There are a tremendous number of social justice issues, many revolving around women, to which individuals are often oblivious."
The day began with a luncheon and address by political pundit Julia Piscitelli, interim assistant director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University and frequent commentator on the Fox News Channel. She addressed key issues relating to women in politics, particularly how they are portrayed by the media, and underrepresented within the media.
"The reason why people still struggle to trust women in leadership roles is because women are not given a big enough voice, or enough visibility, in the media as serious commentators," she said, noting that after 8 p.m. each night, the number of women on network news television dramatically drops.
A panel discussion followed that evening featuring four Seaver College faculty members: Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of student journalism; Candice Ortbals, assistant professor of political science; Tabatha Jones, associate dean of students affairs; and Kindalee DeLong, assistant professor of religion.
"Each panelist was selected based on her status as a female professor," says Schott. "More importantly, each was selected based on her ability to bring a different, relevant perspective to the panel by addressing her area of expertise. I believe each perspective is essential to the discussion of women and politics."
Schott brought together the panelists to discuss troubling and persistent discrepancies that still exist between men and women in America and throughout the world. They broke the subject down into four key areas: the media, politics, education, and religion.
Issues raised included Smith's idea that the media judge men individually based on merit, but group women into stereotypes. Ortbals brought home the shockingly low number of women in congress in the U.S., especially when compared with Rwanda and Cuba. Jones addressed the concern that single mothers typically make up a high percentage of working class citizens, who remain underrepresented in higher education. Meanwhile, DeLong looked at politics from the spiritual standpoint that in the Bible, God is concerned with the least powerful, such as widows.
Intercultural Affairs interns plan a number of events focusing on cultural identity throughout the year. Anna McDermott, intern for international education, organized an Obama vs. McCain foreign policy debate on October 9 between Emerson Siegel, president of Young Democrats, and Ryan Sawtelle, president of College Republicans.
And on Thursday, Oct. 16, ICA will host "Did You Just Say That?," a discussion of the most common racial stereotypes identified in a survey of Pepperdine students. Nadia Despenza, intern for African American education, will organize the event.
For more information about upcoming ICA events, please visit the Intercultural Affairs Web site, or call (310) 506-6860.