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Credit: Weiwei Meng , Weiwei Meng

“Women, under the Obama administration, were fairly present,” professor Nancy Hirschmann said. “Now you look at the Trump administration and they’re not there. Women are being erased.”

Halfway into Women’s Week, students gathered in a Steinberg-Dietrich Hall to hear a group of women faculty members examine the future of feminism and gender equity under President Donald Trump’s administration.

The panel was hosted by Penn Association for Gender Equity.

In Wednesday’s discussion, the panelists collectively voiced hope for progress in women’s issues, despite their concerns about the underrepresentation of women in the Trump administration.

Political science professor Dawn Teele emphasized the importance of women’s involvement in politics. “In fact, more and more women are thinking about running for office,” she said.

“What you can do is you can run for office,” Hirschmann said. “That’s where decisions are being made.”

Panelist Desiree Peterkin Bell, a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication, encouraged students to get involved in activism even outside of politics. “I believe you don’t have to be in a role of power to be impactful,” she said. “You just have to be passionate about the work.”

Speaking about the future of feminist activism, Teele said it is important to consider the differences in perspectives among various generations of feminists, explaining that younger generations have a better understanding of intersectionality.

“The uncomfortable conversation is that you cannot ignore the history,” Bell said.

Issues surrounding intersectionality and the historical exclusion of women of color and transgender women from feminist movements were of particular concern to the panelists.

“Women are not a monolith,” Bell added. She said that in order to make change and to understand gender equity issues, “you must challenge the social construct of the idea of what being a woman is.”