Published: March 31, 2022 by Eori Tokunaga
SJSU iSchool Principal Anthony Chow and Dr. Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca hosted an Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Symposium for Women’s History Month on March 22, 2022. Shirley Lew , dean of the School of Community Arts and Sciences at Vancouver College and editor of Feminist Among Us: Resistance and Advocacy in Library Leadership, opened the symposium with a presentation on women in information.
Lew began by acknowledging “the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples in what we now call British Columbia.” Throughout her presentation, Lew encouraged the audience to reflect on women’s relationships with information and how these relationships exist in the historical context of libraries and work. She spoke about her personal anecdotes of being a woman of color in academia and how they have played out during her 20 years as a librarian.
“While I have the ability to navigate and succeed in the world of libraries, I don’t have the power to claim my place in it. At the same time, I deeply believe in what libraries represent and what we have tried to do and can do and what we can still become. –Shirley Lew
After Lew’s presentation, the keynote by Fobazi Ettarh, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spoke about professional fear, a term she coined in 2018, and the discourse that followed with regard to women and librarianship. She explained the differences between a profession and a vocation, and the expectations that women have as librarians. Ettarh spoke about the historic ways in which librarianship has deliberately feminized its workers and segregated its customers through his presentation. A short Q&A session followed the presentation.
Panelist Shana Higgins, PhD candidate at the University of Redlands, reiterated many of the points Ettarh made in her presentation and how they relate to her own practice as a librarian. Dr. Janine Spears, Associate Professor of Information Systems at Cleveland State University, explained the challenges women face in cybersecurity and IT. Dr. Spears talked about the various efforts and support groups that exist to provide more support for women in a heavily male-dominated field.
The closing keynote was delivered by Dr. Sue Feldman, director of graduate programs in health informatics at the School of Health Professions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. After providing a brief overview of the main points of the symposium, Dr. Feldman spoke about her experiences as a registered nurse and educator, and how this relates to mentoring in the field of library science and library science. information.
“I believe that the intangible, non-measurable things that come from mentorship can be life changing, confidence building and instilling courage and skill. When we think about how to break that cycle, how to lift women, how to unite us, some of the things that happened in some of the previous discussions – I think if we can mentor those around us, that would be a good beginning… And as we elevate individuals, we elevate everyone, including our profession. — Dr. Sue Feldman
The symposium ended with closing remarks from Dr. Anthony Chow, Dr. Deborah Hicks and Dr. Tonia San Nicolas-Rocca.