Haley Swenson: Doing Feminist Work: Wielding Narrative, Data, and Intersectionality Outside the Academy

The speaker, Haley Swenson majored in English & Women's & Gender Studies in undergrad, and received a Masters Degree and PhD in Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, while volunteering as a grassroots organizer for several campaigns and movements throughout her academic career. In 2017 she made the leap from higher education to a non-partisan think tank in Washington, DC, where she edited a daily vertical that ran at Slate.com on gender, work and social policy. Today she writes for a variety of mainstream news outlets, and has appeared as a commentator on NPR, CBC Radio, and CNN International. She also runs a research and action initiative on rebalancing the division of labor at home and its connection to gender, racial, and class equity, which has been featured in the New York Times and at CNN.com

What does it mean to work for intersectional gender justice in 2022? In 2017, millions of women and allies marched in Washington, representing the largest protest in US history, yet the five years since have witnessed the destruction of basic reproductive rights and decades-won economic progress. The #MeToo movement put sexist work cultures and bosses on notice across the country, yet an ongoing backlash mocks and attacks survivors and elevates abusers as martyrs to a "cancel culture" gone awry. Communities that have supported each other through mutual aid and bold local movements for change during a deadly pandemic have also faced a scourge of misogynistic and racist gun violence, and a proto-fascist movement dismantling trans rights and anti-racist education across the country. 


Though this uneven, dangerous political terrain we encounter and experience each day fragments and confuses resistance, it also creates unprecedented opportunities, both large and small, for intervening. Gender studies, with its interdisciplinary approach to answering questions, its rich legacy of analyzing and relating to social movements, and its bedrock call for intersectionality in policy, culture, and practice, is a critical field for preparing feminist workers to intervene and agitate for feminist outcomes in a wide variety of fields, industries, and occupations. 


Join us for a presentation and discussion about how one feminist scholar uses data analysis, storytelling, and an intersectional lens to translate feminist ideas for mainstream conversation through news media and pop culture, and why she believes the potential has never been greater for  feminists to play a public role in agenda-setting across non-feminist institutions, even as so much hangs in the balance.