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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

Wanting It All: Women and the State of Feminism in America

headshots of 10 powerful, influential women

Lisa Sowle Cahill, Boston College
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Harvard University
Cynthia Young, Boston College

Date: Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Time: 7:00PM-8:30PM
Location: Devlin 101, Boston College

Abstract: How are American women doing today? By some measures, extremely well: women now make up the majority of the American workforce, graduate from college at higher rates than men, and are taking unprecedented leadership roles in business, media, politics and law. Yet these successes bring new tensions for women's work/life balance, even as inequalities and discrimination persist across nearly all sectors of society. To introduce fresh perspectives and foster broad conversation, the Boisi Center has asked three scholars with wide-ranging expertise in history, religion and culture to discuss the state of women--and feminism--in the United States today. Join us for a conversation about equality and difference, marriage and family, race and religion, politics and law, and the historical trends that have brought us where we are today.


Lisa Sowle Cahill is the J. Donald Monan professor of theology at Boston College.  Professor Cahill has taught at Boston College since 1976 and has also been a visiting professor at Georgetown and Yale Universities. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and is a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society of Christian Ethics. Holding eight honorary degrees, Professor Cahill has written extensively on theological ethics. Her recent works include Bioethics and the Common Good (Marquette University Press, 2003), Theological Bioethics: Participation, Justice and Change (Georgetown University Press, 2005) and Genetics, Theology, Ethics: An Interdisciplinary Conversation (Crossroad, 2005). Her research interests include the history of Christian ethics, New Testament ethics, Catholic social ethics, feminist theology, bioethics, and the ethics of war and peace. She is currently a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Catholic Common Ground Initiative since 1998.


Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is 300th Anniversary University Professor in the Program in the History of American Civilization at Harvard University. She is the author of Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Early New England, 1650-1750 (1982) and A Midwife's Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard Based on Her Diary, 1785-1812 (1990) which won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1991 and became the basis of a PBS documentary. In The Age of Homespun: Objects and Stories in the Making of an American Myth (2001), she has incorporated museum-based research as well as more traditional archival work. Her most recent book is Well-behaved Women Seldom Make History (2007). Her major fields of interest are early American social history, women's history, and material culture.


Cynthia Young is Associate Professor of English at Boston College and served as the Associate Professor of English and Director of African & African Diaspora Studies until 2009. Dr. Young has received numerous awards for her research, including four Rockefeller Foundation postdoctoral fellowships and research grants and a Ford Foundation dissertation fellowship. Her research interests include the literature and culture of the African diaspora, U.S. popular culture, race and cultural theory, and African America and U.S. ethnic literatures. Dr. Young's most recent project center on black British and black American cultural politics and popular culture in the post-September 11th world. She is author of Soul Power: Culture, Radicalism and the Making of a U.S. Third World Left (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006). Dr. Young received her Ph.D. and M.A. in American Studies at Yale University and a B.A. in English at Columbia University.


In the News

How are American women doing today?

Gail Collins discusses the Obama administration's first report on the status of women in America in a recent op-ed: "Girls and Boys Together" (New York Times, 3/2/11). On April 26, scholars from Harvard and Boston College took up the same question.