Celebrating women’s studies
Award-winning students in the department of women's studies. From left: Jamie Pitt, Mimi Sheriff and Kira Petersson-Martin.
By Janet Harron
The Department of Women's Studies has a lot to celebrate. So does master's of women's studies student Kira Petersson-Martin.
At a recent awards ceremony hosted by the department, Ms. Petersson-Martin was awarded the Canadian Federation of University Women St. John's Chapter Scholarship for Women's Studies by chapter president Joyce Noseworthy.
The annual award is given to a female student in their first or second year of the MWS program and is awarded based on academic standing and financial need.
As a single parent, Ms. Petersson-Martin's financial needs are greater than most.
"It would be almost impossible to work as a full time student and a single parent ... you wouldn't have time for either. The hardest part is money, money, money," she said. Recently recovered from a severe accident, Ms. Petersson-Martin said she has to be very focused on her work during daytime hours when her daughter is at daycare – "I have from 9 to 5 to work – that's it!"
Being a mother has focused her research as well. Starting out with an emphasis on breastfeeding, her master's thesis now explores the complicated relationship between motherhood and sexuality and the clash between motherhood as an institution and maternity as a "felt experience."
"Feminist theory uses intersectional analyses," explains Ms. Petersson-Martin. "For example, you're not just a black person and a woman – you're a black woman. It looks at the whole person, and tries to map out their whole experience to the fullest extent possible." Extending that to motherhood she says: "You can't separate sexuality from maternity. It's not 'You are a woman and also a mother.' You're a sexual person who is a mother. You can't put sexuality in a separate sphere and pretend it's not related."
Other winners at the April 26 event were Jamie Pitt, the recipient of the Edna Baird-Stephenson Award, and Mimi Sheriff who received the Sally Davis Scholarship. Absent from the ceremony were Nikki Leendertse, the winner of the ISER Masters Fellowship, and Kathryn Banoub, the winner of the Department of Women's Studies Book Prize Award.
"The department is really pleased to acknowledge and celebrate these students and their academic accomplishments. We expect that these awards will be just the beginning of their future achievements," said Dr. Katherine Side, department head.