Panel to discuss professional and creative opportunities, restrictions for women in the late 19th century and today
(Feb. 24, 2010)
On March 4, the William E. Laupus Health Sciences Library will host a panel discussion, “Weak Female? Medical Justifications Behind Restrictions on Women in the Late 19th Century.” It is free and open to the public.
The program, sponsored by the Friends of Laupus Library, will be held 5:30-7 p.m. in the fourth floor exhibit gallery. Panelists will be Cheryl Dudasik-Wiggs, director of women’s studies, Dr. Marie Farr, retired associate professor of English, Dr. Martha Libster, associate professor of nursing, and Dr. Todd Savitt, professor of medical humanities.
The panelists will discuss modern perspectives about the restrictions on women’s professional and creative opportunities in the late 19th century and today. The last 30 minutes of the program will be reserved for questions from audience members and viewing the library’s latest exhibit, “The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and ‘The Yellow Wall-Paper.’ ”
The six-banner traveling exhibit, on display through March 6, provides a glimpse into the late 19th century when women were challenging traditional ideas about gender that excluded them from political and intellectual life. During that time, medical and scientific experts drew on notions of female weakness to justify inequality between the sexes. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected these ideas in a terrifying short story titled “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women’s professional and creative opportunities.