POWS Conference 2013

Rather strangely, I woke up yesterday morning utterly disappointed to be in my own bed. You see, between Wednesday and Friday I was at the BPS POWS conference at the gorgeous Cumberland Lodge in Windsor. Seriously, it’s gorgeous. Just look how gorgeous it is.

Cumberland Lodge - POWS Conference 2013

The weather was glorious too, but we are kind of baking in some weird, unusual heatwave at the moment. Beautiful location aside, the conference itself was incredible. My head is still whirling and trying to process the masses of thoughts (accompanied by the masses of notes I took) into some kind of reasonable, useful record of the conference. Seems unlikely it’ll get much beyond a few pages of Google docs, tweets from myself and other delegates, and red pen scribbles from the train ride home. We’ll see, I guess.

Both keynotes were incredible and inspiring. The first keynote was delivered by the wonderful Elisabeth KelanUnspeakable Inequalities – The Politics of Gender at Work. Unsurprisingly, it was very relevant to my general area of interest. I was somewhat relieved to hear Elisabeth speaking about her previous work, as it basically confirmed to me that I’d actually understood what I’d read before. Phew. Elisabeth’s work really resonates with me – making gender speakable in the workplace is something that needs to happen if we ever want to see changes. How can we be expected to address problems that we cannot even discuss?

The craftivism workshop was a real success, with activist Barbies and bunting as far as the eye could see. My craftivism Barbie was originally a dentist (?) but now she’s just concerned by the attrition rates for women in STEM careers.

Craftivism Barbie - POWS Conference 2013

Thursday evening was an absolute delight, featuring stand up comedy from the incredible Bethany Black. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed quite so much or quite so hard – my face was literally aching for hours afterwards. I keep thinking about the disappearing strawberry, and the air-raid siren run up to insults… If you ever get a chance to see her, do. Utterly hilarious, and I’m a little bit in love with her. In fact, the social side of POWS was pretty awesome – there’s lots of time scheduled in to relax and get to know people. I even found time for a Thai massage – can you believe it?

The second (and final) keynote came on Friday, from lovely Meg Barker – Gendered understandings of consent in 50 Shades of Grey and on the BDSM blogosphere. A topic not directly related to my PhD research, but close to my heart nonetheless. I actually spent Friday morning at the sexuality panel as a reward for making an effort to attend work-related panels during the rest of the conference. Took me right back to my optional module on sexuality with Sonja Ellis at Sheffield Hallam. Ah, nostalgia. Maybe one day, after all the memes and IT research is done, I’ll be able to do some work on pornography or BDSM… One day.

I’m really glad that I managed to get this blog and my new “professional” (ish) Twitter account set up before I went to the POWS conference. I got so into tweeting the paper presentations and keynotes – I think a lot of people were using Twitter to take notes during the talks, as well as share what was being said. It seems to be a really good way to get key points down and it forces you to be succinct, which is obviously ideal for note taking. There were quite a few of us live tweeting from the event, and one of the post-presentation discussions even involved a question from a Twitter user who had been following the #pows13 hashtag – how cool is that? Meg Barker pulled together a Storify for the official hashtag, which is well worth a look at to get a feeling for some of the issues being discussed, photos of the craftivism workshop and a good overview of the keynotes.

My one and only regret is that I wasn’t presenting a paper or poster this year. The atmosphere at POWS is so supportive and warm I imagine it’s the perfect place for someone to dip their toes into the world of academic conferences. I’m sure I’ll be able to address this regret next year – I wouldn’t miss next year’s POWS conference for the world! Somehow I’ve managed to rope myself into the POWS committee too, so I guess you can expect lots more POWS chatter from me in the coming year. I’m really looking forward to working with such an incredible bunch of strong, intelligent women.

Now… back to reality, back to work, back to re-drafting that memes chapter…

2 Replies to “POWS Conference 2013”

  1. Hi it’s Paula S. great summary, nice blog, very professional! Definitely a good venue for a first presentation – go for it in 2014 🙂

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