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Global Women’s Studies professors share their thoughts on Women’s History Month

women’s history monthwhich lasts until the end of March, is an occasion for reflection, study and celebration of the contributions of women in various fields.

This calendar shows events celebrating Women’s History Month on the BYU campus this month. The Global Women’s Studies department offers activities for students to discover their own heroes in women’s history and find out for themselves why women’s history matters. (Graphic provided by Valerie Hegstrom)

Women in history have often been overlooked for their accomplishments because their successes have most often been attributed to men or rewritten by men, said Roni Jo Draper, affiliate faculty member in the Global Women’s Studies department.

“I think for a long time our history books really focused on history or men’s interests,” Draper said. “At some point, we have to wonder where were the women?

Rob McFarland, an affiliate faculty member in the Global Women’s Studies department, said people often wonder why it’s necessary to have a month dedicated to celebrating and studying women’s history. He compared it to a question he asked his mother as a child about why there was a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, but no Children’s Day.

He remembers his mother saying that every day was children’s day. McFarland said that just like there’s no need for a designated “Children’s Day,” there’s no need for a Men’s History Month because every month is the month of the history of men.

“Women have been so incredibly disadvantaged for so long that it will be a long time before we realize the contributions they have made and we need this Women’s History Month to reflect on that,” said McFarland.

Elizabeth Hodgson, a professor at the University of British Columbia, said the stories we know and often know involve the work of women whose names have never been mentioned in the history books. She spoke of Albert Einstein’s wife, who helped him with some of his most important mathematical discoveries and innovations, but she is rarely mentioned in the story.

“Women’s History Month gives us the opportunity to begin to revisit our sense of the past and to understand how things really happened, who really did the work, who really made the discoveries, who really shaped communities and developed policies and made positive changes,” Hodgson mentioned. “It’s a useful way to correct our faulty assumptions.”

Draper stressed the importance of using history to help people recognize the kind of contributions they can make to their communities now, especially when it comes to women.

“We can make our voices heard, we can keep doing important work, we can keep being smart, being kind, being powerful, caring about beautiful things. All the things that we understand women are, we can keep doing those things,” Draper said. “It’s about continuing, I don’t think it’s about starting something.”

Professors affiliated with the BYU Global Women’s Studies department share the women in history who inspire them the most. (Sicily Stanton)
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