The start of March establishes the beginning of Women’s History Month. To celebrate, the university will be hosting a series of events as a part of the 2023 Tillie K. Lubin Symposium—a series that focuses on an issue relevant to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies.
Women’s History Month is designated for “commemorating and encouraging the study, observance and celebration of the vital role of women in American history,” according to the Women’s History Month website. The observation of Women’s History Month began as “Women’s History Week” in 1982, when then-president Ronald Reagan proclaimed the week of March 7 would be “Women’s History Week” after Congress passed Pub L. 97-28, according to the website. Over the course of the next five years, Women’s History Week would expand into Women’s History Month. It was in 1987 when it officially shifted from being Women’s History Week to Women’s History Month.
An email sent to community members, administrators wrote, “We are brimming with enthusiasm to celebrate Women’s History Month in March! During this month, we will honor contributions women have made and continue to make in the evolution of our country and at the global level.”
The email, written by ChaeRan Y. Freeze, Chair of the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality (WGS) Studies, and LeManuel Lee Bitsóí, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, notes the university’s roots in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. The university first offered a women’s studies course in 1975, with a singular course, according to the timeline on the WGS webpage. An undergraduate minor in women’s studies was then offered in 1978 before becoming a graduate program in 1992. The undergraduate major in Women’s Studies was established in 2003.
The university changed the name of the program to Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies in 2014 and in 2020 the Board of Trustees voted to change the program into a department, according to the timeline.
The department today has the mission “to explore how gender and sexuality—as they intersect with race, ethnicity, class, religion, and age—form a crucial dimension of identity, society, and politics in different cultural and historical settings,” reads the email sent to community members.
Freeze and Bitsóí also noted the “long and storied” history of feminism and its legacy at the university. The pair noted prominent women who were a part of the university’s past and present as alumni and faculty. The email noted women like Pauli Murray, Angela Davis, Julieanne Richardson, Hortense Spillers, Patricia Hill Collins, Karen E. Fields, M. Jacqui Alexander, Anita Hill, Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman, Jasmine Johnson and Faith Smith.
In the email, Freeze and Bitsóí also acknowledged the work of other university alumnae who were “trailblazers” in their respective fields including Elaine Showalter, Nancy Chodorow, Evelyn Fox Keller and Joan Wallach Scott.
This month, WGS will be hosting the 2023 Tillie K. Lubin Symposium—named in honor of Tillie Kulp, whose daughter, Sara Lee Schupf, endowed the Lubin Symposium in her mother’s honor. In addition to this series, the university also recieved the Mellon Sawyers Seminar Grant for “Imperiled Bodies: Slavery, Colonialism, Citizenship and the Logics of Gender-based Violence,” according to the email. The seminar series will be led by professors Anita Hill (WGS), ChaeRan Freeze (WGS) and Harleen Singh (WGS). The trio will host panels and events over the course of the 2023-2024 academic year.
The email highlighted an upcoming event for Women’s History Month as a part of the Tillie K. Lubin Symposium. The event is called “Decolonizing Genders and Sexualities” on Wednesday, March 29 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Rapaporte Treasure Hall. The next event is sponsored by the Women’s Studies Research Center (WSCR) and is called “In Iran’s Streets and on the World Stage: Two Artists Talk About Women, State, and Politics” on Wednesday, March 29 at 5:30 p.m. at the WSCR. The final event is hosted by The Heller School called “Conversations on Equity and Justice – Reproductive Freedom: Legal Rights, Political Context, and Opportunities for Action”; this will be on International Women’s Day which is March 8. The event will be from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. in the Zinner Forum and on Zoom.