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In Focus: 2/27/2014

A weekly newsletter published by the Communications Office

Finishing Touch

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The W.D. Kelley Foundation provided funds for the City of Georgetown to add Southwestern’s name and logo to a water tower located across from campus that needed to be repainted. See more photos of the water tower being painted here. (Photo by Ellen Davis)

Top News

SOCIOLOGY PROFESSOR’S RESEARCH SHEDS NEW LIGHT ON PREGNANCY-RELATED FIRINGS

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 makes it illegal for woman to be fired just because they are pregnant.

But that doesn’t stop it from happening, according to new research by Reginald Byron, assistant professor of sociology at Southwestern University and Vincent Roscigno, a Distinguished Professor of Arts and Science at The Ohio State University.

What employers do to get around the law, Byron says, is vilify pregnant women as poor performers and tardy employees while also pointing to seemingly fair attendance policies and financial costs. Although such concerns may, at face value, seem legitimate in a business sense, Byron and Roscigno note that the same policies and rationales are not invoked in the case of non-pregnant employees, including those with worse records of performance and attendance.

“This strategy of portraying pregnant workers as undependable and costly seems to legitimize their terminations to external audiences,” Byron says. “Such a strategy adds to existing employer-employee power disparities like employers’ ability to hire a lawyer in discrimination suits.”

The new study that Byron and Roscigno authored is titled “Relational Power, Legitimation, and Pregnancy Discrimination” and will be published in the June 2014 issue of Gender & Society. It was published online Feb. 20.

Read more here.

RELIGION PROFESSOR’S NEW BOOK CHRONICLES THE CANINE-HUMAN STORY

Until recently, most of the world’s histories have been told from the perspective of men in power. In the past 35 to 40 years, there has been a movement to reclaim other histories such as those told from the standpoint of women or ordinary people.

But Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies, says there is an important perspective missing: a dog’s perspective.

“Histories are also incomplete, I think, if we forget how much other animals have impacted our history. I’ve come to the conclusion that we wouldn’t be here, or at least we would be very different had we not paired up with dogs when we did,” Hobgood-Oster says.

The history of the world from a dog’s perspective is the subject of Hobgood-Oster’s third book, which will be released April 1 by Baylor University Press. The full title of the book is A Dog’s History of the World: Canines and the Domestication of Humans.

Read more here.

Events

NPR HOST TO GIVE 2014 SHILLING LECTURE

Scott Simon, the longtime host of National Public Radio’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” will be the featured speaker for Southwestern’s 2014 Shilling Lecture, which will be held on Tuesday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m. in the Robertson Center.

The lecture is being held in conjunction with the inauguration of Southwestern’s 15th president, Dr. Edward Burger, which will be held earlier in the day.

Both events are free and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved on the inauguration website, www.southwestern.edu/inauguration/.

Simon joined NPR in 1977 as chief of its Chicago bureau. Since then, he has reported from all 50 states, covered presidential campaigns and eight wars, and reported from Central America, Africa, India, the Middle East and the Caribbean. He has been host of “Weekend Edition Saturday,” which now has an audience of 4.2 million listeners, since 1985.

Read more here.

Media Coverage

Several media outlets – including Science Daily – picked up the news release about sociology professor Reggie Byron’s research on pregnancy and firings.

Notables

Kerry Bechtel, professor of theatre, designed the costumes for Unity Theatre’s production of “Almost Maine,” which runs through March 2.

President Edward Burger is participating in a “polylogue” on digital dementia that will be held at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center College of Medicine in Round Rock on Wednesday, March 5 at 6:30 p.m. Other participants in the event include Dr. Manfred Spitzer, who is giving a March 6 talk at Southwestern on the same topic. Read more here.

Valerie Renegar, associate professor of communication studies, presented a co-authored paper at the Western States Communication Association’s annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., Feb. 14-18. The paper, titled “Transferring Visual Ideographs of Abuse: A Critical Examination of Representations of Domestic Violence,” was named the Top Paper of the conference by the Organization for Research on Women and Communication. Senior communication studies major Danielle Ezzell presented a paper titled “New Masculinity, New Girl” at the Western States Undergraduate Research Conference that was held in conjunction with the convention. The paper was based on research conducted for her Communication Studies capstone project.

Eric Selbin, University Scholar and professor of political science, was on the Steering Committee for the 2014 Lozano Long Conference titled “Archiving the Central American Revolutions” that was held Feb. 19-21 at the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS) at The University of Texas at Austin. The conference brought together scholars, activists, filmmakers, photographers and graduate students interested in Central America’s “revolutionary decades” (1970 through 1990). Selbin also moderated the conference’s closing panel on “Human Rights and Revolution in El Salvador.”