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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 15, 2007

Role of women in elections and politics focus of upcoming October UI events

In 1907, women in Britain, the United States and most other countries could only ask when they would be allowed to vote. In 2007, a woman is one of the top contenders for president of the United States. Two upcoming University of Iowa events, sharing the title "From 1907 to 2007: Women and the Vote," will explore the role of women in past elections and assess their current and future roles in politics.

The first event takes UI students, staff and faculty and local community members on a tour of the past with a staged reading of the 1907 play "Votes for Women!" by suffrage playwright Elizabeth Robins. The reading, which takes place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, in MacBride Auditorium, offers an insider's view of the fight for women's suffrage and features a rabble-rousing crowd scene, with cameos by local celebrities.

Robins was a renowned actor and playwright. Born in America, she gained notoriety in Britain in the 1890s as one of the first actresses to star in Henrik Ibsen's "A Doll House." In 1908, she co-founded the Actresses' Franchise League.

UI Theatre Arts lecturer Meredith Alexander and theater students Patrick Ashcraft and Danielle Karczewski, together with members of an undergraduate class in the UI English Department, direct the reading. Members of the cast include English department professor Miriam Gilbert, assistant professor Jeff Porter and lecturer Mary Ann Rasmussen; Art Borreca, associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts; and local actor Jay Stein, along with members of The League of Women Voters of Johnson County.

The second event turns from the past to the future. A public panel and forum "From 'Votes for Women!' to Will Women Vote?" will be held at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in Room W401 Pappajohn Business Building. The panel features activists, academics and Jean Hall Lloyd-Jones, a former member of the Iowa House and Senate. Other panelists and topics include Pat Jensen of The League of Women Voters, on the history of the league; Erica Townsend-Bell, assistant professor in the UI Department of Political Science in CLAS, on global trends in women's political participation; Leslie Leathers, UI doctoral student in counseling psychology in the College of Education and Diversity Dialogue coordinator at the Women's Resource and Action Center (WRAC), on the impact of diversity in political leadership; and Jessica Hook, coordinator of Iowa N.E.W. Leadership™, a week-long summer program organized by WRAC that prepares college women to run for office.

These events are a co-production of UI and community sponsors, including the following: the 18th- and 19th-Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium of UI International Programs; the English and Theatre Arts Departments of The UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; the UI Center for Human Rights; WRAC; and The League of Women Voters of Johnson County.

Both events are free and open to the public. For more details or special arrangements for the staged reading, contact Teresa Mangum, associate professor of English in CLAS and director of the 18th- and 19th-Century Interdisciplinary Colloquium of International Programs, at To make special arrangements for the panel, please contact Jessica Hook at

University of Iowa International Programs enables UI students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all university constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the UI Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Teresa Mangum, UI English Department, 319-335-0323,; Kelli Andresen, International Programs, 319-335-2026,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,