University of Vermont

UVM Conference to Explore the New Feminist Agenda: Balancing Family and Work

Madeleine Kunin (Photo: Sally McCay)

As far-reaching as the changes brought about by the feminist movement have been, society in many ways has not caught up with a world where two-income families are the norm, more women than men attend college and graduate school, and 40 percent of women out-earn their husbands.

The University of Vermont will host a conference on Saturday, March 31 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Waterman Building designed to explore issues raised by the growing empowerment of women. The conference is titled “The New Feminist Agenda: The Next Revolution for Women, Work and Family; Balancing a Career and Family.” Registration is required, and a $10 donation is suggested. To register, visit the conference’s website.

 “The issue of how to combine a family and a career remains one of the major challenges for working families,” said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, a visiting professor in UVM’s James Marsh Professor-at-Large program and the conference’s sponsor.

“Eighty percent of families are two-wage earning families, many of whom are in middle and lower income brackets. All families need affordable, quality child care, flexible work schedules and sensible family leave policies. We need to face these issues squarely as a society, because they affect a family’s earning power and wellbeing, especially that of their children.”

The conference will address several broad themes, via keynote speakers, concurrent panel discussions and a culminating roundtable discussion: how to increase access to quality, affordable childcare; what we can learn from other countries; what government can do to help accommodate the needs of working families; and what the private sector can do.

Conference presenters include a mix of nationally known speakers, UVM scholars who specialize in family and children’s issues, Vermont community and state social service providers, state business leaders, and Vermont politicians and policy-makers. 

Blades and Kunin, Wall to Keynote

The morning will be highlighted by a keynote conversation between Kunin and Joan Blades, co-founder of the website and of the organization MomsRising, a networked community with over one million members dedicated to bringing important motherhood and family issues to the forefront of the country's awareness. 

“MomsRising is the newest and most prominent in a loose coalition of (feminist and family-oriented) advocacy groups … that are sharing information, joining together at rallies and signing one another’s petitions,” writes the New York Times. The site frames “its concerns as family and economic issues, which resonate for a younger generation of women,” the Times continues.

Kunin was governor of Vermont from 1985 to 1991. She served as deputy secretary of education and ambassador to Switzerland in the Clinton administration. She is founder of the Institute for Sustainable Communities, a non-governmental organization that focuses on global climate change and civil society.    

Kunin has also written a new book with the same title as the conference. The book, published by Vermont-based Chelsea Green Publishing, has received advance praise from Ellen Malcolm, the founder of EMILY’s List, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and President Bill Clinton. It will be available to pre-order at the conference.

The lunch keynote will be delivered by Jim Wall, former human resources director and chief diversity officer at Deloitte. During Wall’s tenure, Deloitte was ranked one of the “100 Best Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune magazine for seven years and one of the “100 Best Companies for Working Mothers” by Working Mother magazine for ten consecutive years. His insights on human resources issues have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fortune and other publications. In 2002, Human Resources Executive magazine named him its Human Resources Executive of the Year.  

The event is open to the community. For more information, call (802) 656-5665.