CSUF associate history professor and director of the Center of Oral and Public History Natalie Fousekis, Ph.D., spoke about women’s role in politics at Fullerton Public Library Wednesday.
Her speech titled “Political Women: Local Women Being Bold for Change” was part of her “Women’s Politics and Activism” project that started in 2013.
“The goal of the project was to interview as diverse a group of women, activists and local political leaders as possible,” Fousekis stated.
In 2013, Fousekis applied for a grant from the John Randolph Haynes Foundation and received $211,000. The John Randolph Haynes Foundation is the “leading supporter of social science research for Los Angeles,” according to the John Randolph Haynes Foundation website. She said her funding from the grant will run out in August.
Some of the women who Fousekis mentioned were the Founders of W.I.L. (Women in Leadership), which she described as a “pro-choice bipartisan pact that was making a difference in women’s politics in the 1990s.”
She also recognized Joy Picus, who was a councilwoman for Los Angeles in 1977, and Lindsey Horvath, who is serving her second term on the West Hollywood City Council. Fousekis said she wanted to record women like these because there is generally a lack of effort in recording these stories.
“Nobody was recording stories of women in politics. There were spotty ones, but there had not been a major effort to record (these) stories,” Fousekis said. “Unfortunately, some of the women, we’ve lost even in the two years while I was starting the project, and women have passed away that I would have liked to have interviewed or have gotten dementia.”
Fousekis said the benefit of having women in politics is that women bring different perspectives than men do.
“The overall takeaway would be that women bring something different. They may not be all the same, and that doesn’t mean whether it’s conservative or liberal,” Fousekis said.
Matthew Leslie, a 53-year-old artist and curator was in attendance for the speech. His girlfriend Jane Rands, a former candidate for Fullerton City Council, was one of the women Fousekis interviewed.
“I just really enjoyed hearing the general narrative of how women became empowered to run for office,” Leslie said.