Cumberland Lodge, Windsor

It’s that time again! The POWS Annual Conference

Today we have a post recapping the Psychology of Women section conference 2015 from POWS committee member, Dee Lister – find her on Twitter @Dee_List. Thanks for writing Dee, and thanks to Lindsay O’Dell for help with proofreading. If you’d like to submit a post please do get in touch!

It’s hard to believe nearly a year’s gone by since the last Psychology of Women Section (POWS) conference that took place at the idyllic setting of Cumberland Lodge in Windsor in July 2015. This isolated spot in the midst of the London metropolis feels far away from everyday pressures. The fresh smell of grass and sounds of bird song contributes to the peace of the surroundings, making the event feel less like work and more like a retreat. Whilst the setting lends itself to a retreat, much work is done during the 3 day conference. Seasoned and early career researchers from different disciplines, activists and other professionals interested in feminisms and women’s psychology make up the dynamic pool of delegates.

Recap on POWS conference 2015

Last year it was my first time attending the full 3 day event and presenting a paper about my PhD exploring the personal narratives of women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Knowing there was such a diverse and well-informed audience was quite frankly, intimidating. But, things went well. It’s difficult to get across in a blog post the warmth and support that radiated from the audience. I left after presenting my paper walking tall. The experience was invaluable for the research too, since the Q&A session and the informal talks with other delegates over the course of the conference opened up avenues I hadn’t considered previously. The key notes were exemplary and rather than try to re-present these talks, you can watch these again for yourselves!

I’ve given lots of examples of positive aspects to the experience of POWS 2015 from the tranquillity of the grounds to the utility of attending an event with a fresh mix of interdisciplinary delegates. Attending the event was also difficult at times. To me, being a feminist means being personally invested in the process of squaring up to things and that can be hard. There are many social injustices and it can be emotionally challenging listening to evocative stories or papers about abuse, violence and other issues relating to the marginalised or oppression of certain groups or individuals. I think here of the feminist maxim, the personal is political. One talk made me uncomfortable and I stepped out. Whilst at the time this induced some guilt, in retrospect it was the right thing to do, since doing politicised and ethical work that personally resonates can take its toll if efforts aren’t made towards self-care. Within the institutional setting this remains the same. It was reassuring to listen to Rebecca Lawthom talk about issues related to this in her thought-provoking keynote on the ‘Slow Academy’ in keynote and layers of complexity involved in working within neoliberal universities or other settings. Whilst I did not attend, delegates who were present said it was similarly powerful attending the ‘Cultivating Care’ workshop where the facilitators provided a safe space for group discussions about self-care in different settings.

Coming soon! POWS conference 2016

So what’s in store for this year’s conference that takes place on 6-8th July? The themes for this year’s event are: Feminism and class, reimagining development across the lifespan and feminist methods. Some fantastic keynotes are lined up that includes Ginny Braun, Victoria Clarke, Carl Walker and Lindsay O’Dell. Carl Walker will be doing a speech and stand-up routine as part of the evening activities. I’ve been lucky enough to join the POWS Committee having become the POWS Psychological Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPAG) rep, so can say there is an exciting programme of talks and workshops lined up too. I can’t emphasise enough what a wonderful space the POWS conference is for discussing ideas to do with ongoing or completed work for anyone considering submitting an abstract. For anyone fairly new to presenting information this is an ideal opportunity to practice presenting. As abstract submissions close soon (30th March 2016) if you are going to submit please be prompt.

The POWS community are a wonderfully supportive group of like-minded people connected by an interest in feminisms. Attending the conference is a chance to work hard, learn and enjoy being in great company, in addition to provide valuable opportunities to share knowledge. So go on! Join us at POWS 2016 and if you aren’t a member, please sign up and help continue POWS great work.

For information on joining POWS visit the joining and benefits page.

To find out more on the POWS 2016 conference, and to submit your abstracts, visit the official conference site.




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