The following interview was conducted with Dr. Charlotte Ziebarth as part of WSF’s Women’s Studies Archive Project. Her answers appear below as they were written by her, with the one exception that any names mentioned have been redacted as part of the interview methodology used.
I enjoyed teaching the Women’s Studies classes because the students were so engaged. The level of involvement and participation in classroom discussions and projects was much higher than my psychology classes.
I would not say there was any conflict, but there was often very lively discussions within the class. One or two of the male students were quite defensive and argumentative, but most were genuinely concerned. Most other male faculty treated it as amusing and something to joke about. I’m not sure any took it seriously. However the psychology department did allow me to teach an independent seminar in gender issues, so they took it that seriously.
Since there wasn’t really a Women’s Studies Program, just this one class taught by me, there was not much connection to other parts of the University. The major exception was the Continuing Education Department which promoted my class and I believe sponsored several class sessions in evening hours.
The main connection to the community outside the University was to a group that became known as VideoWomen. It comprised some students, some community members and myself. It sponsored several feminist film festivals and in connection with a media program at the University (I’ve forgotten the exact name) provided the use of videotaping equipment. (Before the existence of small handheld personal video cameras or cell phones.) We even produced a TV series of 4 or 5 programs for a public access TV station in Calgary.