Students and faculty ate lunch, spoke with peers and listened to a talk on representation for women of color in media Wednesday at the National Young Women’s Day of Action Luncheon.
Nearly 50 students attended the talk at the William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center in the North Ballroom. The keynote lecture and Q&A was presented by the Gender and Sexuality Center and the Center for Asian American Studies. Kristen Meinzer, podcast host and producer, spoke about issues she faced in her childhood and in the workplace during her keynote, ranging from being a Korean adoptee, to hate she received due to gender disparities in media.
“Over the years, the opinions (of others) really bummed me out, and the fact is, they still do sometimes,” Meinzer said. “I’ve gotten better at knowing what criticism to take seriously and what criticism to ignore.”
Meinzer said it is important to know that “your voice is a gift.” She said there is a the difference between constructive criticism for women in media, such as improving on scheduling and editing, and targeted criticism that leads to people complaining about her being a woman. Meinzer also said listeners have complained about her regional accent, her laughter and her tone of voice during podcasts.
“I do all I can to elevate diverse voices like mentoring women, nonbinary people, people of color and booking diverse guests to appear on all of my shows,” Meinzer said. “This is something that a lot of content makers forget to do, and we can choose to have more diverse voices all of the time.”
Silk Club, one of the main sponsors of the keynote, advocates for Asian and Asian American identity for women and non-binary people, according to their Facebook page.
“The only representation I had as a kid was Mulan,” said Sandra Tsang, Silk Club managing director and advertising sophomore. “In a predominantly white campus, it is important to have speakers here like Kristen Meinzer to empower and highlight marginalized communities.”
Liz Elsen, director of the Gender and Sexuality Center, said the center hosted the event to bring organizations together and give people the chance to meet each other.
“UT is a huge campus and can feel a little isolating,” Elsen said. “We host events like this where students can come and work with different student organizations so (students) can find a connection.”