Embracing the Legacy Of Women

Ferris State University will be celebrating Women’s History Month, which is a time to reflect on women’s past and present struggles.

“As with all cultural events we sponsor, Women’s History Month is another opportunity for the FSU community to engage and learn about culture, history and current events,” said Michael Wade, assistant director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services.

Several events will be coming up this month to celebrate women’s history. Nancy Hulse will be giving a presentation entitled “That Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady.” There will also be a fashion show, a biographical recitation, and a 5-Star event speaker.

During Women’s History Month there will be a Virtual Women’s Center online that features the profile of a different woman each week. You can visit the virtual center at ferris.edu/student life/minority/vwc/.

Sharon Robideaux, professor of language and literature and teacher of women‘s studies, said that women have endured many struggles in the past and there are still many obstacles they will need to overcome, which is one reason learning about women’s history is so important.

Robideaux has many reasons she believes celebrating women’s history is important. She commented on the fact that there has yet to be a female president or vice president and there are still many restrictions placed on women in the military.

“Far too often, young women see that young men have strong, powerful male role models,” said Robideaux.

“They don’t see that young women have female role models because history has usually been written by men, and men have usually downplayed or ignored women’s contributions.”

Robideaux said that too often in our society people think the freedoms and rights women have now are things they have always had. She is reminded of an incident that happened less than 40 years ago when she was told by a male co-worker she should quit her job and that women didn’t belong working outside the home.

Women still have obstacles they will need to overcome in order to gain economic equality in the workplace, said Robideaux. She said women will never reach equality with men as long as they are perceived as “newcomers.”

“When the number of female CEOs and company presidents of leaders of industry equal the number of males, perhaps economic equal rights will be possible,” said Robideaux. “Until then, women still earn less than men in many fields, even when they are doing the same work.”

Feminism is something Robideaux says people have misconceptions about. She tells her students feminists are people who believe women have rights and many of them are men working to improve the lives of women they know.

“Feminists aren’t man-hating. bra-burning, hairy-legged monsters,” said Robideaux. “It is an honor to call oneself a feminist and to believe in equal rights for women.”

Robideaux said a greater emphasis should be put on women’s history before students come to college. Many of her students have reported not knowing some of women’s most significant accomplishments. She feels that it is important for people to know about the past so that they don’t repeat its mistakes.

Ferris’ celebration of women’s history is a chance to learn more about the struggles and accomplishments of women. There is a variety of different mediums available to students that will allow them to learn more in an entertaining fashion.

“We have come a long way,” said Robideaux. “Each victory seems to create confidence that other victories for women’s rights are ahead of us.”

Fun Facts About Women’s HIstory

  • 1848 – First women’s-right convention meets in Seneca Falls, N.Y.
  • 1869 – Wyoming Territory is the first to grant women the right to vote
  • 1928 – Amelia Earhart is the first woman to cross the Atlantic in an airplane
  • 1933 – Frances Perkins becomes the first female Presidential cabinet member
  • 1943 – All-American Girls Professional Baseball League is the first professional sports league for females
  • 1977 – Janet Guthrie becomes the first woman to drive in the Indy 500
  • 2010-Kathryn Bigelow is the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director
  • 2.4 percent of Fortune 500 company CEOs are women, which is an increase from .6 percent in 2000
  • 17 percent of the U.S. Congress are women and 18 percent of governors are women
  • Information from diversityinc.com and history.com