I was thrilled to be able to check out the Women in Mormon Studies (WiMS) website over the weekend. It represents the labor of many women that have worked together to amplify the work of women in our beloved subfield. After looking at scholar profiles (you can add yours HERE), I’ve come to a few conclusions:
- Male-Only Panels Need to be a Thing of the Past
If you’re putting together a panel for MHA, JWHA, BYU/LDS Church History Department programs, or any other organization, there is no excuse for only having men as participants. Similarly, there’s no excuse for having a woman comment or chair as a way of escaping the strict definition of the all-male panel. If you can’t find women that work on your topic it is your own fault. You may need to change the scope or topic of the panel, but that will make for better panels overall. It does not matter how specific the topic. You can find a woman that fits in well with your panel. Reach out to WiMS or JI if you are having problems and we will do everything we can to help.
It’s on everyone to make sure that MHA is more inclusive and diverse (in its many definitions). Be the change you want to see. Expand your social and professional sphere. Pay forward the favors you’ve received. Whatever your reasons for reaching out, this should be the end of the “manel” in academic Mormon Studies.
Similarly, if you only quote men in journalistic articles, that’s on you. There are dozens of women that are willing to speak to you. You may only be able to get ahold of one person on a quick story, but I would recommend that you find a way of adding reactions/quotes/opinions from women as you update the story. That may not be possible in all cases but I suspect that it is possible in many instances.
- We Need to be more Deliberate in Who and What We Amplify
Those in Mormon Studies need to pay more attention to what is published in broader fields, but also by those that are proud members of our subfields. Amplify work. Cite women’s work and invite them to speak. The more people we “cite and invite” people with different perspectives, backgrounds, interests, and experiences, the more folks that will become interested in Mormon Studies. I view that as a very positive development.
- We have WORK to do
This is primarily for men (and yes, I know, #notallmen), but we need to do a better job of seeking out women’s perspectives, backgrounds, interests, and experiences and amplifying their work. We have a long way to go, as seen at the recent panel at MHA, in making Mormon Studies a better place for women scholars. We’ve got our work cut out for us—let’s be sure that we do it. Use the website!