Celebrating the women of Brandeis

April will arrive on Monday, signaling the end of March’s unpredictable weather and hopefully an increase in sunshine. However, the end of March also signals the end of Women’s History Month, and we at The Brandeis Hoot want to applaud the empowering events that took place this month, which celebrated the diverse women of the Brandeis community.

The Brandeis chapter of GirlUp kicked off the month with their first-ever Cupcake Gala. The event invited over 50 female professors to share expertise in their fields, discuss the challenges they’ve faced in higher academia and give advice on overcoming obstacles in the workplace. The event was larger than expected, with various groups of professors facilitating panel discussions in multiple rooms within Mandel and Olin-Sang throughout the three hour time frame. GirlUp also hosted a Self-Defense Seminar later in the month, in which attendees were able to learn some Krav Maga self-defense techniques and had the option to donate at the door to local domestic abuse shelters.

Additionally, the Brandeis Democrats Club hosted a Women in Politics panel in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8). Four local politicians visited campus to discuss the obstacles surrounding running for and serving in office. Similar to the GirlUp Cupcake Gala, the four women politicians on the panel gave advice to young women interested in going into politics who will inevitably have to navigate the male-dominated field.     

Events like these should be more widespread and not just reserved for Women’s History Month. Women, especially college-age women, are more empowered and ambitious than ever, but the legacy of strong, inspirational women that came before them should always be celebrated.

There are also so many incredible women at Brandeis that we have to look up to as role models. Professor Anita Hill (AAAS, LGLS, The Heller School, WMGS), for example, who has always been a prominent and impressive figure not only on our campus but in women’s history, won the PEN Award this month. The award recognizes Hill’s contributions to free expression, fighting consistently for women’s rights to speak up for themselves when they feel they have been wronged or abused.

A Brandeis graduate, Karen Uhlenbeck ’66 Ph.D. ’68, was also recognized recently when she became the first woman to win the Abel Prize (the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize). The STEM field is often especially difficult for women to navigate because it is dominated by men, but women like Uhlenbeck are beacons of inspiration for girls who are skilled at math but may not feel as confident in their abilities since they have only seen men succeed in the field.    

The percentage of male full-time instructional faculty is higher than female faculty (57 percent to 43 percent), but the undergraduate female to male ratio is 60.6 percent to 39.4 percent. Regardless of number, the women at Brandeis impress every day with their intellect and skill. They are motivators, groundbreakers and educators and will only continue to inspire generations of Brandeisians to go after dreams they may have thought were impossible. Happy Women’s History Month, Brandeis!

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