Lecturer to espouse views on civil politics

Civility in politics and women's leadership roles may baffle some, but Virginia Sapiro, the Sophonisba Breckinridge professor of political science and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, plans to offer some answers on the subjects this afternoon.

As a guest of the 2004 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program, Sapiro is presenting a lecture and a seminar during her two-day stay at Marquette.

In her department of political science seminar, Sapiro said she will look at how history and linguistics have shaped civility and how civility should return to today's politics.

Her seminar "What Does Civility Have to Do with Politics?" is scheduled for 3 p.m. today in Raynor Conference Center B and C.

"If we had more civility in politics, we'd do much better," Sapiro said. "We should be more civil. People think that there's a lot of hostility, especially during an election year, and it seems to be a good time to talk about civility in politics."

Sapiro also presented a lecture titled "Through a Glass Ceiling Darkly: Developments in the Political Psychology of Gender Stratification" Wednesday at 10 a.m. in AMU 163. She discussed women's success in getting leadership positions.

"If we care at all about having a just society it seems obvious to care about why it is that a very large group in society seems to be inhibited when getting into leadership positions," Sapiro said.

Sapiro is part of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholars Program, where Phi Beta Kappa members select one scholar each year to visit Marquette and share their knowledge with the campus.

Last year, the national Phi Beta Kappa honor society chose 14 speaker candidates for this year's programs at individual schools. Marquette's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, voted on the candidates, each of whom submitted a synopsis of the topic they wished to discuss, and came to the conclusion that Sapiro was the most attractive choice for Marquette, according to Mark Steinmetz, chemistry professor and president of Phi Beta Kappa. Each of the 14 speaker options was offered as a choice to all the chapters of the national Phi Beta Kappa organization.

"We were quite fortunate, too, because we don't always get our choice because there might be a schedule conflict," Steinmetz said.

Past visiting scholars included Ursula Goodenough, a biology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, in 1999 and Alexei Filippenko, an astronomy professor at University of California Berkeley.

Janet Boles, political science professor, Phi Beta Kappa member and major organizer of the event, said Sapiro is very knowledgeable person in the field of political science.

Sapiro holds an endowed chair at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which she named Breckinridge after the first woman to earn a Ph. D. from a Midwestern university. Sapiro is also the assistant vice chancellor of teaching at the university and continues to teach.

Boles said Sapiro's two best-known books are "The Political Integration of Women," which describes how women are socialized in political theory and "A Vindication of Political Virtue: The Political Theory of Mary Wollstonecraft," which is about Wollstonecraft's feminist political theory.

In 2002, Sapiro was accepted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, an organization of the worlds leading scientists, scholars, artists, business people and public leaders, according to the AAAS Web site. Sapiro, a Phi Beta Kappa member was also involved in designing questions for the 2000 census.

"It's always important to have some of the nation's leading scholars come though Marquette," Boles said. "For public lectures, we're trying to invite Pi Beta Kappa members from outside."

Phi Beta Kappa is a national honor society for undergraduate Arts & Sciences students with exceptional academic performance, according to Steinmetz. Qualified students are invited to join based on their academic records and those interested are initiated at a banquet each spring.

The national organization was established in 1776 at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. to debate political and cultural issues of the day. According to Steinmetz, Marquette's chapter began in 1971.