Gender and women’s studies department to honor Phenomenal Woman Award at forum

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Past award winners of the Phenomenal Woman Award will discuss issues of economy, health and public policies affecting women during a forum taking place Sept. 23 in the University Student Union’s Grand Salon.

“This year is a discussion forum, where previous awardees will return to engage our CSUN community in dialogue about the gender implications of national and global issues,” said Sheena Malhorta, chair of the Gender and Women’s Studies department, via email.

The Phenomenal Woman Award was started 16 years ago by the Gender and Women’s Studies department to honor “phenomenal” women in their communities and fields of study. The award is given out every two years to five women and this year Malhorta explained that instead of doing a lecture, they decided to have a forum where past awardees were invited to attend.

“Sometimes we have writers, scientists, doctors, media people and politicians who are doing work that benefit women in some way or are exemplary women in their own right or in their own field,” said Malhorta during a phone conversation.

Among the women invited to speak at the forum is last year’s honoree Jane Bayes, professor of political science.

Bayes showed honor when she received the award last year. “It was a very spectacular honor. I was very humble by it. It was very nice, especially with the other folks that got it at the same time. It’s a quite a collection of people to be associated with,” said Bayes, who has been at CSUN since 1968.

She explained that she got into women’s issues because of civil rights during the 1960s. Once here she became active in the establishment of the Women’s Studies department.

Among her many accomplishments she holds a Distinguished Research Award for Research on Women given by the American Society for Public Administration in 1996, a PhD from UCLA, and is the co-author of Women, Democracy, and Globization in North America, to name a few.

However, in her younger years Bayes had to struggle with the different roles men and women had. Being from Texas, Bayes talked about how she couldn’t get anything for herself.

“I couldn’t get a telephone. I was 22 or 23. My father had to sign for it. I couldn’t get a credit card in my own name. I was well aware, in many ways, in which I was angry at the fact, I wasn’t allowed. I had to fight to do whatever I wanted to do. I was very athletic and I couldn’t play sports, the way I would have liked to play. All kinds of opportunities boys had that I didn’t have, “said Bayes.

Bayes discussed women have come a long way since then. Even thought women still face barriers, women have been able to overcome those boundaries, like Hilary Clinton, begin the first woman to run for the presidency in the U.S., Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the United House of Representatives, and recently Sonia Sotomayor, first Hispanic woman in the Supreme Court.

Bayes hopes this award will inspire young woman to achieve their goals and recogizne that they can do it too.

The event will be free and open to the public from 5-6:30 p.m.


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