Gender and the Public Sphere

deadline for submissions: 
February 4, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Texas Tech Women's & Gender Studies Program


Texas Tech University’s 40th Women’s & Gender Studies annual spring conference, to be held on April 11, 2024, invites submissions on the theme Gender and The Public Sphere. Organizers seek proposals for individual papers or panels on topics related to gendered public discourses, the representations of gender in public life and popular culture, and all the nuanced meanings of Jurgen Habermas’s twentieth-century concept of the “public sphere” as it relates to emerging research on gender and sexuality. The conference seeks to explore questions such as:

  • Feminist critiques of the public sphere: How should we think today about the theoretical construct of the public sphere as Habermas first posed it and as it has been critiqued and extended in the years since? To what extent is the feminist critique of Habermas's initial theorization of the public sphere still (or differently) relevant? Is the notion of the public sphere still useful—and if so, in what ways related specifically to gender?
  • The public-facing nature of gender equality discourses: How do recent popular films such as Barbie, television series such as “Mrs. America,” and advertising campaigns such as #LikeAGirl construct what is “public” versus “private” in the context of gender? What is the role, if any, of such endeavors in effecting long-term change? How do mass-mediated discourses about gender equality mimic or intersect with the strategic communication efforts of other social movements, such as sustainability?
  • The significance of gender to the complex mechanisms that underlie the very existence of the public sphere: How, if at all, are gender issues relevant to the deliberation, creation, and enactment of public policy? How is gender relevant, if at all, to the continued vibrancy of the public sphere, both locally and globally? In what parts of public life, if any, has the gender binary been eroded or become less relevant?
  • The crossroads of gender, class, and race: What negotiations of these categories have we observed in public life, both recently and in the distant past? How do public policies address issues of gender, race, and class, if at all? How are these categories reinforced, redefined, or resisted? 
  • Gendered discovery, debate, and dissemination of knowledge: How is the public interest served by efforts to change or reinforce the gender status quo in academia, science, and K-12 education? What factors cement or erode the gendered distribution of labor in knowledge-related fields? What are the effects, if any, of the gendering of these fields on the public’s access to and understanding of scientific and humanistic knowledge?
  • The economic effects of gendered interactions and relations in the public sphere: What are the effects, if any, of gendered labor on economic growth, both in the present and the past? How do individual actors within the public sphere understand the role of gender in economic success, both at the level of society and within their own households?
  • The evolving nature of communication about gender issues in the public sphere: How is gender, whether constructed as a binary or as a spectrum, discussed and represented across the many channels of communication in the contemporary public sphere—including mass media, social media, and video games? How have the changing ways of sharing information, misinformation, and opinions about gender across vast networks of social actors affected the nature of the discourse? How have discourses about gender, regardless of how they are communicated, changed over time?

The conference is interdisciplinary. Proposals for teaching panels and interactive practical workshops, in addition to research abstracts and papers, are welcome and encouraged. Perspectives from all disciplines, including the humanities, the social sciences, the arts, the health sciences, education, business and economics, and STEM are welcome. We encourage scholars at all levels (faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students) to submit proposals, and especially welcome the work of early-career faculty.

Please use this link ( to submit a 500-word abstract or panel proposal by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Submissions will be evaluated through a masked peer-review process, and submitters will be informed of the results by Friday, March 8, 2024. Student presenters whose work has been accepted and who wish to be considered for one of the three research prizes of $100, $75, and $50 must upload their full papers by Friday, March 29. Registration fees will be waived for the winners of the research prizes.

Scholars of globalization, American studies, comparative literature, and adjacent fields interested in submitting to the Gender and the Public Sphere conference are encouraged to consider also submitting to the 2024 Texas Tech Symposium on “Transnational American Studies Revisited,” to be held in Lubbock on April 12-13.