The Women at Noon series was created to provide an open forum for students, faculty and community members to discuss and educate themselves on a wide variety of women’s issues.
The series is held at noon every Wednesday in room 228 of the Lory Student Center.
The Women at Noon programs cover a variety of topics, ranging from Weaving in the Lives of Guatemalan Women, to Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence.
The main goal of the program is to “serve [the] community with women as a focus and to enhance understanding of women’s issues,” said Karen Wedge, director of the Office of Women’s Programs and Studies. “There are a lot of different women on campus, a lot of different ways to think about things and a lot of different things to think about.”
Women at Noon began in 1974 as a brown-bag lunch event to support returning adult women learners to the campus. Shortly thereafter, the core group of about 35 women decided to open their lectures to the whole campus. Since that time, more than 600 programs have been offered, averaging 10 to 12 a semester.
“We’ve run the gamut of trends and issues of interest over time. But they all have had women as the focus,” Wedge said. While there has been the occasional male presenter, Wedge feels that it is important to have one hour a week when people have the opportunity to see and hear a female presenter.
However, Wedge is quick to add that while the focus may be on women and women’s issues, men are more than welcome to attend. She also says that many of the men who have attended in the past have greatly enjoyed the presentations.
The most recent Women at Noon event was a screening of the video, “Women of Mystery: Three Writers Who Forever Changed Fiction.” The film is a documentary about three contemporary mystery novelists: Marcia Muller, Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky. The event drew a crowd of about 40 women, including many faculty and community members.
“I enjoyed this very much. It was wonderful,” said Kathleen Ivy-Althoff, a counselor with Resources for Disabled Students. “I came because I’m interested in writing and in mysteries as a genre. It’s nice to be able to come to something that seems interesting to me.”
The size and make-up of the audience for any given Women at Noon event changes dramatically with the topic being presented, Wedge said. Presentations featuring authors, health issues and relational issues tend to draw the largest crowds.
“We don’t make a decision on a program based on the size of the audience it will attract,” Wedge said. “We aim for a diversity of subjects, to show the many different aspects of being a woman in this world.”
-Edited by Shandra Jordan, Colleen Buhrer and Ben Koerselman