Published: March 25, 2010
Two-by-two they’ll come next week, mentor and mentee, to celebrate Women’s History Month at The University of Tampa.
wanted to make sure we’re doing our job teaching younger women about
our history,” said Linda Devine, vice president of Operations and
Planning, and leading lady behind this six-year program.
annual Women’s History Month luncheon, this year on March 31 in Vaughn
Center’s Crescent Club, encourages faculty and staff members to
accompany students. It’s not just females though, said Devine, who is a
longtime supporter of gender-specific initiatives. Men are just as
encouraged to attend.
“Being a feminist isn’t a dirty word. It
just means that you want women to have the same rights as men do,” said
Devine, who served as UT’s first female director of student activities
in 1983. “You want girls and boys to have a fair shake. You want their
starting line to be the same. How they finish the race is up to them.”
year organizers of the luncheon tackle a topic like women and the
environment, women’s history at the University, women and art, and this
year’s topic: women’s unwritten role in history.
maybe centuries, of being ignored by historians (mostly male) and
others, women’s contributions to history, in the broadest sense, have at
long last been recognized as essential to an accurate portrayal of the
past,” said Dr. Constance Rynder, professor of history who teaches a
Women in American History course at UT.
Rynder is featured in
the luncheon’s program, along with Janice Law, director of the Academic
Center for Excellence and lecturer in history; Dr. Judy Hayden,
associate professor of English and writing and director of the Women
Studies Program; and Susan Leisner, UT trustee, founder and past
president of the Athena Society Inc., and member of the Hillsborough
County Commission on the Status of Women.
about women in history that Rynder has noticed is the belief that
“women’s work” was either home-based or charity-oriented, and so women
lacked the capacity for militancy or direct action in the public arena.
She cites three major contributions by women – in agricultural
development, social reform and the development of new professions and
occupations — to prove the point.
“In most early societies,
women were the agriculturalists, men the hunters and defenders,” Rynder
said. “Women learned to domesticate plants, thus greatly increasing the
food supply. In some regions, they also discovered the medicinal uses
for the wild plants they gathered.”
In terms of social reform,
“women have spearheaded many campaigns for social justice, among them
abolitionism, child protection, industrial safety, environmental safety
and civil rights,” she said.
As for changes to the workforce,
Rynder said that when blocked from male-dominated fields, women would
get creative. “For example, women college graduates literally invented
the field of social work. Women also pioneered a new multi-million
dollar business: cosmetics.”
This year’s history month
celebration includes an essay contest sponsored by the Diversity
Fellowship, both a student organization and a branch of the Office of
Student Leadership and Engagement which promotes, appreciates and
recognizes diversity on campus.
“This should be a learning
experience,” Devine said. “I hope they walk away with a moment of
awareness, realizing something that they didn’t know before. I hope that
somewhere in that time there’s an ‘aha’ moment for each of them.”
Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer
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