Sterling College Assistant Professor of Communications Ken Troyer Presents National Simulcast for the Kansas Children’s Service

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When Hilary Clinton cried during her campaign for the presidential candidacy, the press was generally negative, and her tears were portrayed as feminine weakness. Yet when Mark McGwire cried as he admitted to having used steroids, many of the media said his crying was a sign of genuine remorse. Why did crying hurt Clinton’s image and enhance McGwire’s? It is this kind of question that Assistant Professor of Communication Ken Troyer explores during the Gendered/Intercultural Communication class he teaches at Sterling College, and it is his research and knowledge in this area that also led to his recent presentation on this topic to employees and affiliates of the Kansas Children’s Service League (KCSL)

Besides his busy schedule at the College, which includes directing the Debate and Forensics teams, Troyer works with the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI), speaking to fathers about the important role they play in their children’s lives. The NFI is affiliated with the KCSL. Both organizations attended last year’s Governor’s Conference on the Prevention of Child Abuse. Troyer spoke at that conference, and a KCSL staff member learned of his interest in gendered communication. She asked him to share his knowledge through a national Web simulcast. He agreed, and an email announcing the topic and time to “tune in” was sent to all the organizations associated with the KCSL. On Tuesday, August 17, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., Troyer shared his research and interacted with the audience.

“I was presenting to people working with foster care, adoption agencies, social services—anyone whose work, in one way or another, is trying to prevent child abuse and increase the level of care for all children,” said Troyer. “The topic of gendered communication affects these people and what they do. For instance, in my work with fathers, I’ve learned that if a man grew up in a primarily male speech community, he is far less likely to share his parenting struggles in front of a group than a father who grew up in a primarily female speech community. Female social workers need to be aware that in some situations, they will not be seen as an authority figure, no matter how professional they are.”

Though Troyer was not speaking in front of an audience he could see, viewers watching the Web cast could respond to his presentation with questions and comments. “I liked being able to interact with audience members,” said Troyer, “and their responses let me know that the information I presented was helpful to them.”