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Villanova University Gender and Women’s Studies Conference welcomes Duchess Harris, PhD of Macalester College

Keynote speaker discusses her research on the African-American female mathematicians who worked at NASA during the Space Age.  

Duchess Harris is the keynote speaker at Villanova's annual Gender and Women's Studies conference

VILLANOVA, Pa. – From the 1940s through the 1960s, dozens of African American women worked for The National Aeronautics and Space Administration as expert mathematicians—and almost no one knew about it for decades. Duchess Harris, PhD, chair, Department of American Studies, Macalester College, has done extensive research to shed light on the buried stories of these extraordinary women, including her grandmother Miriam Daniel Mann. On Friday, April 6 at 1 p.m. in the Connelly Cinema at Villanova University, Dr. Harris presents, “Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA,” as the keynote address at the 2018 Gender and Women’s Studies Student Research Conference.

Dr. Harris’ presentation draws from material in her book, Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA (2016), co-written with Sue Bradford Edwards. The book highlights the accomplishments of her grandmother and the other women of color working at NASA throughout the Atomic Age of American history. Segregated within the NASA facilities in Hampton, Virginia, well-educated Black women used slide rules and pencils to do the complicated calculations for flights. These women made it possible for astronauts John Glenn and Alan Shepard to complete their missions. The book reveals and commends the contributions of these women in order to restore the missing piece of history and inspire the youth of today to overcome adversity.

Dr. Harris is an accomplished scholar of 20th century African American political history and civil rights, and she continues to advocate for African American justice in the 21st century. She was a Mellon Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota and received a Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law. An accomplished academic and author, she has written several books including Black Lives Matter, Black Feminist Politics from Kennedy to Clinton/Obama and Racially Writing the Republic: Racists, Race Rebels, and Transformations of American Identity.

Dr. Harris’ presentation is part of the annual, day-long conference. Villanova’s Gender and Women’s Studies program invites students from various local colleges and universities in the Greater Philadelphia Women’s Studies Consortium to submit their research for consideration for the conference. The conference provides a unique opportunity to hear both graduate and undergraduate research presentations and performances by students.

The conference is free and open to the public, and the schedule is as follows:

8:45 a.m. Coffee and Welcome, Villanova Room, Connelly Center

9:15 - 10:15 a.m. Session One, designated meeting rooms, Connelly Center

Panels include: Activism and Social Movements; Dimensions of Identity; Fiction and Reading Technologies; Gender and the Body; Gender, Religion and Secularity; Marriage, Parenthood and the Family; Sexual Assault and Violence; and Queerness and Queering

10:30 - 11:30 a.m. Session Two, designated meeting rooms, Connelly Center

Panels include: Gender, Law and Policy; Gender in Media and Marketing; Intersectionality: Gender, Race, and Disability; Global Gender Politics; Literature Beyond the Novel, Philosophy and Feminist Theory; and Sex and Sexualities

11:30 - 1 p.m. Lunch Reception and Awards Ceremony, Villanova Room, Connelly Center

Welcome and introduction: Teresa Boyer, EdD, ’95 CLAS, PhD, director, The Anne Welsh McNulty Institute for Women’s Leadership

Student speaker: Jalaneya Marrero-Golden '18 CLAS

Presentation of awards: Adele Lindenmeyr, PhD, dean, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Judith Levine, PhD, associate professor of Sociology and director of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program, Temple University 

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. “Hidden Human Computers: The Black Women of NASA,” Connelly Cinema

Keynote Speaker: Duchess Harris, PhD, chair, Department of American Studies, Macalester College

2:15 - 3:15 p.m. Session Three, designated meeting rooms, Connelly Center

Panels include: Dimensions of Masculinity; Gender, Health and Psychology; Gender and the Voice; Gender and the Novel; Gender in/as Politics; and Labor and the World of Work

3:30 - 4:30 p.m. Performance Showcase, Connelly Cinema

4:30 p.m. Coffee and Cookies, outsdie Connelly Cinema

About Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences: Since its founding in 1842, Villanova University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has cultivated knowledge, understanding and intellectual courage for a purposeful life in a challenged and changing world. With 39 majors across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences, it is the oldest and largest of Villanova’s colleges, serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students each year. The College is committed to a teacher-scholar model, offering outstanding undergraduate and graduate research opportunities and a rigorous core curriculum that prepares students to become critical thinkers, strong communicators and ethical leaders with a truly global perspective.