Female students

Commission on the Status of Women

Essay Contest 2020

PSU’s Commission on the Status of Women and the Diversity Action Council offer an essay award to support undergraduate and graduate students who will be enrolled at PSU during the fall term of 2020.
One award of $1,000 to an undergraduate student and one award of $1000 to a graduate student will be made. To qualify for the award you must be a student at PSU in the fall of 2020. The award will go towards tuition or other student fees. Winners will be notified on May 1st, and recognized at the PSU President’s Diversity Awards event on May 21, 2020 at PSU.


Over the past several years we've seen social movements and activism (#metoo, #neveragain #timesup #stopthewall #defendaca, Black Lives Matter, no hate/no fear), many founded by Women of Color, in response and resistance to the hate and violence against marginalized communities. In the 2018 election, we elected the most racially diverse and largest group of women representatives ever elected to the House, with a number of queer representatives. These movements and electoral changes have been celebrated as a win for intersectional feminism. The term Intersectionality was coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw to specifically describe how race, gender, and other identities intersect within the oppression of Black women. We now see this term used in many ways and for many contexts that have departed from Crenshaw's original use. This includes a type of feminism now called intersectional feminism.  With this in mind, please write a 3-5 page essay that answers the question: What is the future of intersectional feminism? 

Minimum Qualifications

Essay contest is open to all students regardless of gender. Applicants must be enrolled as a student at Portland State University for the fall 2020 term.

  • Submissions must include the entrant’s contact information and PSU ID number
  • Submissions must be in MS-Word format, double-spaced with 12-point font including:
    • A 3-5 page (maximum) essay based on the above theme, and  
    • A separate 150-word paragraph about how the award will advance your education and confirmation of  your student standing for fall 2020.
  • Students may enter only one essay.
  • Essays written in a non-English language should be translated into English prior to submission.

Entries must be received by 11:59pm on April 13, 2020, by emailing entry to diversity@pdx.edu with the subject line of the email as “Commission on the Status of Women essay.”

Entries will be evaluated based on: originality, argument, persuasiveness, organization (clarity of concept), style (use of grammar), and how the award will advance the entrant’s education.
Any questions may be directed to the committee at diversity@pdx.edu.

The 2020 Essay Contest Winners:

Tatiana Garcia, Undergraduate Winner
Child, Youth, and Family Studies, School of Social Work; Chicano/Latino Studies, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Spanish (World Languages & Literature), College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Essay Excerpt: The future of feminism is going to be led by Queer, Black, Indigenous, women of color. I once read something that has stayed with me since. The piece explained that the 21st-century feminist agenda must go beyond wanting a female president or fighting for abortion rights. We must also collectively assess and tackle obstacles in intersectional feminist circles, and that means giving power to women of color and letting their experiences be heard. 

Read Tatiana's essay.


Lisa Knisely, Graduate Winner
Master in Social Work Program, School of Social Work

Essay Excerpt: Intersectionality, if taken seriously, requires that we do not ignore or make invisible the structural discrimination that happens to “persons with multiple marginalized backgrounds.” My suggestion, then, is that rather than trying to claim a future for an ambiguously meaningful and unwieldy thing termed “intersectional feminism,” it is more useful to think about when and where an intersectional analysis can be deployed in the service of social justice in our local contexts, such as at PSU.

Read Lisa's essay.

Special Thanks to the Commission on the Status of Women Essay Committee

  • Ericka Kimball, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work
  • Eddy Francisco Alvarez Jr., Assistant Professor, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies
  • Cory Lira, Assistant Director, Women’s Resource Center
  • K Keith, Director, Queer Resource Center