Boundary Breaking Women’s Panel inspires innovative progress

Students listen to Dr. Kristen Padilla talk about the lives and stories of women today. Lilly Yablon | Photographer

By Ariel Wright | Reporter

Baylor’s Women and Gender Studies Program hosted the ninth annual Boundary Breaking Women’s Panel to highlight the lives and stories of women on Monday.

In a showcase of female empowerment and innovation, the panel explored diverse stories of women who redefined boundaries.

“We have 10 faculty members who are presenting, and many of these faculty members are very esteemed faculty members, and they’re giving their time to present,” Dr. Theresa Varney Kennedy, director of the Women and Gender Studies Program, said. “They’re also very excellent presenters, and I want students to be able to take advantage of this to be inspired.”

During the event, each of the panelists took the audience on a journey through history, highlighting a remarkable woman who defied conventions in her respective field.

One story was that of Carla Hayden — the 14th librarian of Congress who is still working in the position today. She was the first woman and the first Black person to hold the position. She is now 71 years old and is still an active proponent of librarianship.

“Under her leadership, the ALA reaffirmed that ‘all people, regardless of origin, age, background or views, possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use,’” Ellen Filgo, Baylor librarian and director of the Liaison Program, said.

Feminist Hebrew Bible scholar Gale Yee was another woman whose story was showcased during the panel. As a biblical scholar coming from a different background than many of her peers, she has been able to apply a unique perspective to her biblical studies.

“An American of Chinese descent, she has written frequently on biblical interpretation from an Asian American perspective,” Filgo said. “More recently, she has turned her attention to matters of race and class commitments that are evident both in her scholarship and in her professional and personal activities, especially with Asian and Asian American groups and committees.”

The variety of stories from the lives of so many women who made impacts in their fields left students with an eagerness to follow in their footsteps.

“A, anything is possible, and B, there’s still so much work to do, but not in a burdensome way,” Fort Worth senior Peach Storm said. “Like, we celebrated incredible women today, and it just makes me excited for all the women we’ll get to celebrate in the future, some of whom might be in this room.”