Women on Mass Destruction

Public Policy Lecture Series Spring 2016

WMD Women on Mass Destruction: More than a Pun

The title of this year's Public Policy Lecture Series is, of course, a pun on “weapons of mass destruction.” But it is much more than that. The title originates with the Washington DC group “Women of Mass Destruction,” which meets at every Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference for a breakfast discussion on Women in Technology and International Security. The group, which includes prominent women in the field—including our first speaker, Rebecca Hersman—was founded by Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Gottemoeller has promoted innovative means of arms control; Lovely Umayam ’10 received the first award for bombshelltoe.

International Relations as a discipline—and international security in particular—has historically underrepresented women in citations and syllabi and presents a challenging environment for networking, frequently producing panels that feature mostly or exclusively men, in part because people call up the “usual suspects” instead of thinking actively about their choices. The breakfast group (and this lecture series) is in part intended to highlight the contributions of women to the field, challenge perceptions of security as a male-dominated profession, and connect interested students to mentors. This is but one of many groups that have been created in the discipline to provide countervailing forces, including Women in International Security.

In addition to gender inclusivity being an important issue in Security Studies as a profession, gender is crucially important in the study of International Security, with lively research programs in Feminist IR and Security Studies that go back at least three decades, including a dedicated journal as well as a nascent research program in Queer IR. While not all feminist scholars are women, and while most female security scholars do not study gender, we are pleased to include presentations by women from both critical and network perspectives that address gender. Our second talk in the series, by Heather Roff, “Gendering a Warbot,” discusses how robots constructed for combat purposes can reinforce gendered norms of warfighting. Of course, gender is important for the subject matter of the third talk of our series, in which Martina Morris '80 will discuss lessons from Uganda for HIV prevention.

More questions? Come to the 2015–2016 Public Policy Lecture Series and ask!