The Women’s Center at Oregon State University is a campus resource that invites students to relax on comfortable couches to study, or talk to a staff member about a variety of issues.
On Wednesday, though, Women’s Center staffers went way outside of their comfort zone.
The 2012 Women’s Resource and Research Symposium, held in the Memorial Union, highlighted work on gender-equity issues by OSU student, staff and faculty researchers.
This year’s symposium experienced a bit of a speed bump when the keynote speaker, Farhana Qazi, analyst and terrorism expert, was detained in Washington, D.C., due to Hurricane Sandy.
Despite that, presenters submitted entries in the annual symposium about many different kinds of research.
Although there were fewer presenters attending, a handful of undergraduate and graduate students set up posters summarizing their research, including Lisa Hendrick, a master’s student in women studies and an intern with the Violence Against Women Political Action Committee.
She explained the mission of the committee, which is to engage in legislative activity to end domestic violence, assault and stalking, and she told students of events and opportunities to become part of efforts to stop violence. She displayed a list of endorsements including 29 Oregon politicians.
For her part, Hendrick was impressed with the other projects.
“There’s a lot of nice research with reproductive justice,” she said.
Another gender-related project was presented by Andrea Kroese, a senior in psychological science, who worked on a pilot study about depression symptoms, academic motivation and gender.
After distributing a survey containing questions about depression, academic performance and mastery goals to students in an introduction to psychology class, the study found women more likely to report crying spells and feeling that their lives were a failure. They were also less likely to report that they were as good as other people.
While she wasn’t surprised by the results the study showed about female students, Kroese was not expecting the results found in male students.
“What we found in men was surprising,” she said. Most men placed below sub-clinical symptoms of depression, meaning they weren’t described as depressed. But the ones who did report clinical signs of depression ranked as extremely depressed.
Kroese’s study caught the attention of Mirabelle Fernandes Paul, the director of the Women’s Center, who said research by undergraduates is significant to the center and the university.
“We are a research institution,” Fernandes-Paul said. “This is one of those areas that needs work. ... We wanted to give researchers an avenue.”