Have you ever had that moment of being excited that there are 10 or 12 female speakers at a secular event followed a nanosecond later by the “wait a minute…” realization that they still compose less than a quarter of the event’s roster? Let that feeling be banished this spring—for the weekend at least.
May 18–20, 2012, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) is sponsoring the conference “Women in Secularism,” the first[*] of its kind in the organized secular humanist movement in the United States. The conference will be held at the Crystal City Marriott at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, DC, and I’ll be covering it for CFI’s Council for Secular Humanism and of course We Are SkeptiXX!
I’m looking forward to this conference not only because it is dedicated to the role and achievements of women in a historically male-dominated movement, something that obviously holds particular interest for me, but because the women who will be discussing said role and achievements are some of the smartest, most engaging commentators in secularism today. The titles of specific talks have yet to be released, but just look at this speaker lineup:
- Lauren Becker, educator and organizer, vice president & director of CFI Outreach
- Ophelia Benson, author, editor, and commentator, Butterflies & Wheels
- Jamila Bey, author, editor, journalist
- Greta Christina, writer and blogger, Greta Christina’s Blog
- Elisabeth Cornwell, evolutionary psychologist, Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
- Margaret Downey, activist and author
- Annie Laurie Gaylor, author, radio host, and co-founder of Freedom From Religion Foundation
- Debbie Goddard, activist and organizer, director of CFI On Campus and African Americans for Humanism
- Jennifer Michael Hecht, teacher, poet, and author of Doubt: A History
- Sikivu Hutchinson, author, teacher, and editor of blackfemlens.org
- Susan Jacoby, journalist and author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
- Jennifer McCreight, blogger at BlagHag
- Bernice Sandler, author and nationally-known expert of women’s issues
- Wafa Sultan, author and human rights activist
- Rebecca Watson, co-host of Skeptics Guide to the Universe and creator of skepchick.org
I’m especially looking forward to hearing writer and journalist Jamila Bey and blogger and activist (and Free Inquiry’s newest columnist) Greta Christina. I have heard neither woman speak before, but if the caliber of their writing is any indication, I predict that their talks will be smart, accessible, and articulate.
And there’s another big bonus. How many times have you wanted to attend a weekend conference (or even a weeknight concert) and had to pass it up because you can’t find a sitter for the kids? I have enough trouble finding someone to watch my dog; I can’t imagine the stress that must come with looking for adequate childcare. But Moms and Dads, you’re covered for this conference. Daycare services will be provided to all registrants in need, courtesy of the Richard Dawkins Foundation.
I hope to see a lot of you We Are SkeptiXX readers at the conference. It’s an important step in recognizing the value of giving women in our movement a voice and taking those voices seriously. And besides that, it’s going to be fun! Almost as much as I’m looking forward to the conference itself, I’m looking forward to meeting and hanging out—maybe having a beer or two—with speakers and fellow attendees.
This conference is for those of us—female, male, or genderqueer—who support women in the secular and skeptics movements, and it is part of a long-overdue recognition that we belong in this movement too.
[*] If you know of a previous conference dedicated exclusively to women in the secular movement, please share in the comments.