The Gender Studies minor program hosts at least one lecture each school year to provide an opportunity for students to learn about gender issues through faculty research. The topics are often those not covered in the classroom, but are presentations that enhance textbook material, and in turn, emphasize the significance of gender in society. The lectures are an example of the high-quality research that faculty are contributing to the academic world. Moreover, the lectures aim to inspire students to do research.
Dr. Rifat Akhter, director of the Gender Studies minor program, wants students to know that no matter what their majors are they can integrate this minor into their career goals. “One day they will apply their knowledge in the real world and gender issues are all around us. The interdisciplinary nature of the program is beneficial in numerous ways: It touches on different issues, theories, and ideas across various subject areas, giving students well-rounded perspectives. Students learn to think critically and are inspired to affect positive changes regarding justice and equality.”
Gender Differences in Juvenile Justice
Sponsored by the sociology department, the gender studies minor program hosted a panel discussion on “Gender and Delinquency” on September 29 as part of its “Doing Gender” lecture series. The panel discussants included The Honorable Judge Rhonda Wood (Circuit Judge for the 20th District, which covers Faulkner, Van Buren and Searcy Counties), Faye Shepherd (Community Resource Coordinator and a Juvenile Probation Officer for Faulkner County Juvenile Court), Scott Tanner (coordinator of the Juvenile Ombudsman Division) , and Luke Ferguson (Deputy Prosecuting Attorney). Judge Wood discussed the structure of the Juvenile Court, the path from arrest to adjudication, and what delinquency dispositional alternatives are available to a juvenile judge. Mr. Ferguson focused on the basic differences between the types of offenses committed by male juveniles and those committed by female juveniles. Mr. Tanner discussed how juveniles are routed through the judicial system. Finally, Ms. Shepherd discussed gender-specific intervention programs designed to change risky behaviors in both genders (e.g., a boxing program for boys and a book club for girls). More than 90 students and faculty were in attendance.
The main objective of this panel discussion was to create awareness about gender issues in the criminal justice system, as well as available programs. Student feedback on the discussion indicated that they learned much from the experience. They indicated that they were glad that the juvenile court concentrates on the rehabilitation of the teens rather than focusing on punishment; they had assumed that the juvenile court only gives jail time to the offenders. Students were also surprised and pleased to learn that the Judge and attorneys have developed mentorship programs for the juveniles. Students also learned that they have an opportunity to work as volunteer probation officers to make a difference in young people’s lives.
Send questions about the program to Dr. Rifat Akhter, (email@example.com) or call her at (501) 450-5640.