3Cs Profile: Dr. Stern

This semester, Her Campus at CNU hosted their third annual 3Cs event - coffee, careers, and conversation. This time, I sat down and spoke with one of the guest professors, Dr. Stern about her experience and advice to young women in the workforce. 

1) What interests led you to become a women and gender studies professor?

My first interest was in media. I wanted to critique and analyze media and encourage media literacy, particularly through the images of women and gender, and eventually sexual orientation and other gender topics. So for me, it was more about, so what are these stories that we have publicly available about gender? What are the constraints of those stories? What are the possibilities of those stories? So I came to women and gender studies by way of being interested as a storyteller and media critique. 

2)  Would you suggest students in finding a mentor? If so, how should they go about it? 

This is where I'll say, as someone who has been doing this for fifteen years now, on one hand, yes, we do have a rhetoric of encouraging young students to seek out mentors. But it's our job, as mentors, to seek out mentees as well. It's important to recognize that it's not a one-way street, where we're saying "Hey young people, come find us, we want to be your mentors." We have to model the sort of mentorship that appeals to young people today whether that's our cisgender students, transgender students, feminists, questioning feminists, anti-feminists that might be open to having conversations about gender justice. I would say it's really about recognizing some aspect of yourself in your professors, in your coaches, in other places of mentorship where you recognize a bond that could grow. Whether that's research-based or issue-based, it doesn't really matter, but I think that it's really coming down to connections and recognizing it's both on the mentors and the mentees to be open to those opportunities. 

3) What is your favorite class to each and why? 

I mean, this is kind of a no-brainer, but any class related to gender. And I say any class because I am very fortunate to teach not just the Communicating Race, Gender and Class course in my department in Communication, but I also get to be affiliate faculty in the women and gender studies minor program. So every other fall, I do get to teach the Introduction to Women and Gender studies so it just happens that I'm teaching both right now. It's both a blessing and a curse because sometimes I'm like, "Which class did I prepare for?" because they are so interconnected but I like being able to find connections of gender particularly intersectional approaches to gender in everything I teach. But when I get to have a course specifically devoted to intersectional gender topics I'm very privileged. 

4) Since you've been a 3Cs professor before, was there anything different about it this time? 

I will say the thing that I most appreciated were the students at our tables this semester, as opposed to a year ago, the queuing of whoever introduced everything that reminded people that this was really about the students trying to speak more than the faculty. She said that we really are here to listen and offer your stories, offer your response, but this is really a place for the students. This is different from the year before, where I spoke a lot more than the students at my particular table. I really appreciated that difference because I got that role of listening - and speaking where it was appropriate - but the skill of listening especially as a communication professor is a lost art form sometimes. That ability as a mentor to really listen to our potential mentees' stories and then find that point of connection so I liked that I was able to listen more and kind of speak when needed. 

5) What advice would you give to young women entering the workforce

For young women entering the workforce, for me, it comes back to opportunities for connection and community. This is because depending on the industry that students are entering into with their degrees there could be industries that are still traditionally more masculine spaces that are preferring traditionally masculinized approaches to leadership and organization and communication that are gendered as more masculine as the norm. It kind of excludes other women's ways of knowing so in those spaces it's important to find connections to feel comfortable and not isolated because I feel like that's a big issue. Of course, if students enter a field that's traditionally more feminine inclusive spaces, it's not that connections don't matter, but I think we need to focus more on finding connection and community if we're in more less inclusive spaces. 

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