Committee on Women and Gender Special Session, Friday November 2, 4-5:30 pm
This is a re-posting of a description of the CWG special session and a request for narratives originally sent in April of this year. If you would like to send a personal narrative about your experiences with inclusion and accessibility in AMS please know that our deadline is September 30. The link to the form for narratives is https://goo.gl/forms/mNtjeGoVvpkGC8ky1.
When we think of accessibility, we often think first of the very necessary and often insufficient accommodations for people with physical impairments. The AMS has previously sponsored a number of panels on issues surrounding disability, some of them dealing with accessibility questions. The Committee on Women and Gender (Suhnne Ahn, Andrew Dell’Antonio, Mary Hunter, Fred Maus, Emily Richmond Pollock, Denise von Glahn, Kathryn Welter, Lindsay Wright; subcommittee Ahn, Dell’Antonio, Hunter, Richmond Pollock) is organizing a workshop at the San Antonio AMS meeting that continues this discussion, broadening it out to think about a variety of kinds of accessibility, particularly as they intersect with gender. We propose a short panel discussion that will feature people who have experienced a variety of barriers to accessibility, responding to a focused set of questions about their experiences with the AMS and the field of musicology more broadly. The panelists (all confirmed) are Naomi Andre, Jeannette Di Bernardo, Suzanne Cusick, Linda Shaver-Gleason, Gayle Murchison, and Reba Wissner. The workshop will also break up into small groups which will discuss what the panelists have said in order to propose concrete (and perhaps some not-so-concrete) ways in which the AMS and its members can help all people feel welcome and included in the Society.
Our definition of accessibility is broad, encompassing a variety of kinds of barriers experienced by people (often but not always disproportionately female) who would like to be more involved in the life of the Society, but who find that difficult. These barriers include:
a) Physical and cognitive barriers: getting to and moving around conference venues and their surroundings, or seeing and hearing presentations; physical and cognitive impairments that make career progress slow and that may indirectly make the AMS less accessible.
b) Financial barriers: affording membership, conference fees, safe accommodation at conferences for those particularly vulnerable, caretakers (or on-site child care), scholarly resources including travel, libraries and databases and other scholarly necessities.
c) Professional-status barriers: those not currently employed full-time as musicologists, those carrying a high teaching load, and those who for various other reasons feel professionally isolated or undervalued may experience the AMS as unwelcoming.
d) Family barriers: parenthood is the obvious challenge, particularly when children are very young, but caring for other loved ones can present temporal, financial and social barriers to access. Much family labor falls disproportionately on women. Single parents and older people looking after aging parents may be particularly vulnerable to losing touch with the Society.
e) Identity barriers: the AMS can be an unwelcoming place for people with a variety of identities that do not fall into the cis-gender, largely white categories which form the majority of the AMS membership.
We hope that our panelists will discuss these issues from their own experience. In addition, we plan to solicit a number of short narratives from members and ex-members of the Society at large; these narratives will inform the questions we ask the panelists. Some of these narratives may be read out loud by members of CWG during the workshop to give voice to this important constituency. Both the panelists and those submitting narratives will be invited to propose an action or a change that would make their access to the life and benefits of the Society easier.