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Women’s History Month: A Reflection from Jessica Lakin

Words of inspiration and vision from the University Provost

March 2024 – Women’s History Month is an opportunity to recognize women throughout history—their many contributions and achievements and, in some cases, the obstacles that they had to overcome in order to realize their potential. These kinds of celebration months are seen by some as controversial: They are necessarily limited in depth and duration, they ignore important aspects of people’s intersectional identities, and they have become commercialized. And while I am personally sympathetic to this perspective, I also know that our efforts to create inclusive and welcoming communities require that we pay special attention to the role that members of marginalized communities have played in shaping history – acknowledging their struggles and celebrating their accomplishments.

Personally, I can’t celebrate Women’s History Month as anything other than who I am: A woman who is a mother, a social psychologist, a faculty member, an academic administrator. I would like everyone to commit to doing something this month, hopefully just as they did during last month’s celebration of Black History, that will help them to become more equity-minded, empathic individuals. I want people to learn something new—something that surprises them or inspires them or challenges them in a meaningful way—and then commit to sharing that new knowledge with others. The increased attention to the history of marginalized groups during these celebration months should be seen as the opportunity it is—a way for people to affirm their commitment to lifelong learning and to becoming a better, more equity-minded person. For educators in particular, we have a responsibility to ensure that history is not forgotten, and that it is taught in ways that do justice to the realities of those who created it.

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