Are we living in a “post-feminist” age?

That was one of the few points of contention at the inaugural gala for Women in Life Learning.

On Friday, the new student group filled Trinity College’s Seely Hall with supporters and curious community members for a night of speeches, music, and food.

Joanna Marinova, the group’s president and a third year international relations student, said she’d been looking for an organization to support women in their career and life aspirations, but found most were devoted to helping women in distress.

“What about preventive measures?” she said. “Of those I found very few.”

Marinova spoke of the difficulty women face in achieving “a balance of being strong and independent, but also having the confidence to be soft and feminine.”

The group plans to help women expand their life options by hosting speakers on topics like careers in science, and holding workshops on Web design and contract negotiation, among other things.

Although Marinova had asked Professor Sylvia Bashevkin to talk about women’s rights in a “post-feminist” age, Bashevkin took issue with the premise.

“I have to say I do not believe we are in a post-feminist age,” said Bashevkin, director of the Canadian Studies program at University College. “I do not believe the struggle for women’s equality has already been completed.”

Reaction from the audience was positive.

“It’s good to see that women’s issues are getting to the forefront again,” said Jessica Mustachi, a second-year international development student.

Hearing the speeches “makes you want to make a difference,” said Annie Chow, a third-year women’s studies and city studies student.

Organizers were pleased with the turnout and audience response. “I feel pretty damn good about it,” said Marinova.

“People are always talking about apathy, but today I’m not feeling it,” said Bernadette Maheandiran, who is a vice-president of the group. “I definitely think if you meet a certain niche, people will show up.”

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