It’s that time of year again: the month dedicated to appreciating women – those who have inspired, and women who have set powerful examples of character, courage and commitment within a wide range of communities.
Here within the Goshen College community, women’s history month is in full swing.
Some may take for granted the women who help make Goshen campus the way it is today. Though some pride GC for its strong women faculty, according to Jan Bender Shelter, professor of history and department chair,
“It is amazing how many things are still an issue (with gender equality, in general) and how we need to just keep reminding each other of things.” This is exactly what this month is all about: taking a critical look back on the wonderful women of our past and present.
Bender Shetler, who has conducted research in Tanzania, is writing a book called “A Gendered History of Social Network Memory in the Mara Region, Tanzania, 1880-present,” which focuses on how women understand their ethnicity and how they tell stories differently than men in Africa. It also focuses on how we think about gender in history, which is the lens through which we should view female achievements during this month.
“If you neglect thinking about gender when you think about history,” said Bender Shetler, “the social history of women and gender relations can easily become hidden.”
In order for us to truly appreciate the women in our own community during this month, it is important for us to look back critically on our community’s history in regards to gender.
This month is also about celebrating the wonderful women on campus who have dedicated their lives to teaching, challenging and shaping young adults into compassionate peacemakers.
Hayley Mann, who is only a freshman, has already experienced the positive influence of one of GC’s associate professors of biology, Jody Saylor.
Mann described Saylor as a wonderful mentor who “embodies both the love of science and the love and care for her students, as well as balancing her job as a mom and a powerful woman.”
Mann said, “It’s really great hear someone who is able to balance their successful career with their faith and family, as well as form strong connections with her students.”
Saylor is a perfect example of the type of woman this month is dedicated to honoring and celebrating. Fortunately, Goshen has a plethora of women to celebrate.
Anita Stalter, Vice President for Academic Affairs and GC’s first female Academic Dean, is another example of women’s influential leadership here at GC.
During her 13 years as Academic Dean, Stalter witnessed powerful examples of “positive leadership with women students, but more acknowledgement of women’s gifts is always needed.”
Stalter also noted the positive increase in “the number of women who are respected across campus.” The celebration of respect is also an important aspect of this month’s activities.
This week, Goshen Student Women’s Association (GSWA) has held events as a part of Healthy Bodies Week. These activities are designed to raise awareness of the beauty all of us possess, not just those in positions of power.
As you go about your busy schedules for the rest of this month, I encourage you to take the time to thank the women around campus or in your lives who have inspired, challenged and believed in you. They deserve it.