Baylor Women’s and Gender Studies panel honors 10 boundary breaking women

Dr. Lisa Shaver opens the program by introducing the audience to Baylor University's new minor in Women's and Gender Studies. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Monica Rodriguez | Reporter

Baylor’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program sponsored its third annual “Boundary Breaking Women’s Panel: A Call to Action” on Tuesday.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of the Silent Sentinels, a group of women in the 1900s who were in favor of women’s suffrage and protested in front of the White House on Jan. 10, 1917. They continued their silent vigil for two and a half years until the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote, was passed.

The panel specifically honored the group’s founder, Alice Paul, who led the Silent Sentinels, and nine other boundary breaking women from the 12th to the 21st century.

“These women have accomplished things that many believed they couldn’t or shouldn’t do,” Lisa Shaver, director of gender studies, said. “Nevertheless, they persisted and have provided women today with the courage to follow in their footsteps.”

Several Baylor professors from various academic departments were speakers on the panel: Dr. Rebecca Flavin of the political science department, Dr. Beth Allison Barr of the history department, Dr. Deanna Toten Beard of the theatre department, Dr. Elise Edwards of the religion department, Dr. Jennifer Good of the modern language department, Dr. Ginger Hanchey of the English department, Dr. Alden Smith of the Classics department, Dr. Lauren Barron of the medical humanities department, Dr. Brooke Blevins of the education department and Dr. Sarah Walden of the honors college.

The 10 boundary-breaking women recognized were:

American suffragette and architect Alice Paul, former Queen of England Eleanor of Acquitaine, actress Minnie Maddern Fiske, Author and theologist Jarena Lee, scientist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian, poet Gwedolyn Brooks, sculptor Properzia de Rossi, cardiologist Dr. Helen Taussig, creator of the Montessori school system Dr. Maria Montessori and film director and screen writer Patty Jenkins.

Each professor spent about five minutes introducing every woman, which consisted of giving a short biography, a list of their accomplishments and how their ideas and innovations helped pave the way for women’s rights today.

“I think it’s great that the program offers this presentation that highlights all these strong women,” said Austin junior Marifer Tamkin. “The fact that Baylor offers the chance for everyone to learn more about women and their influence in society is an opportunity every school should look into.”

The fifth floor conference room in Cashion was filled with students as well as other faculty and staff. Shaver also encouraged students to consider adding Baylor’s interdisciplinary women’s and gender studies as a minor.

According to their webpage, the new minor “prepares students to live and work in an increasingly diverse culture by encouraging students to become more reflective about their own lives and the lives of women and men worldwide.”

The minor offers the opportunity for students to choose from over 25 different courses from several different academic departments in order to fulfill the requirements of the program. The women’s and gender studies program also continues to host a variety of events throughout the year, including a “Start Smart Salary Negotiation” workshop happening today from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in Jones Library. The workshop will help students develop skills that will help them as they prepare to enter the job market. The event is free and dinner is also provided.

As the panel came to a close, Shaver emphasized the importance of continuing to recognize women’s contributions to society and to use their ideas and work as inspiration to make individual marks in the world.

“As we celebrate these 10 incredible boundary-breaking women today,” Shaver said, “we hope their stories will encourage each of you to strive to break boundaries and take the call to action.”

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