As the month of March begins, students will find a wealth of student organization-led opportunities to commemorate Women’s History Month.
March was first officially designated as Women’s History Month in the United States following a bill passed by Congress in 1987, and has been proclaimed as such since 1995, according to the Women’s History Month website. March 8 is International Women’s Day, celebrated around the world as a time to reflect on the achievements of women, with this year’s theme being gender equality, commemorated on social media using the hashtag #EachforEqual.
Several events planned at Binghamton University aim to raise awareness for discrimination faced by women, recognize their achievements and further advocate for the equal treatment of women in the workplace throughout the month. The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the Women’s Student Union (WSU), the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA) and BU Athletics are several organizations coordinating such events.
According to SWE President Katherine Frey, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering, the group promotes the inclusion of women in a traditionally male-dominated field and is seeking to use Women’s History Month as a way to empower women on the path to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.
“This week, four SWE E-Board members are going to Washington, D.C. to join other SWE members from around the country to speak to Congress members and advocate for diversity in STEM education,” Frey wrote in an email. “Additionally, at our general body meeting on March 18, we will be hosting the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to lead a workshop on leadership and how to identify and intervene in workplace microaggressions.”
Frey wrote that these two events are happening in addition to others held annually, such as workshops on coding and company cultures. The group will also feature notable women in STEM on its social media pages.
Similar events are scheduled to be held by WSU, an organization that seeks to support the rights of marginalized identities, according to its website. Yelena Keller-Wyman, WSU treasurer and a junior majoring in philosophy, politics and law, said the group is working on a weeklong series of events planned to commemorate the month, including hosting Sharon Bryant, director of the DEI and an associate professor of nursing at Decker College of Nursing and Health Sciences, as a speaker on at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 20 in Lecture Hall 7.
Bryant’s plan, according to Keller-Wyman, is to discuss ”demographic characteristics of individuals who report experiencing discrimination in health care settings.” Keller-Wyman said the month is a vital time to not only look at women’s history, but also specifically at the successes of subsets of women.
“It’s important to not only look at white women’s history, but particularly the black women and other women of color, trans[gender] women, disabled women and the different issues that affect that,” Keller-Wyman said. “So that’s all the different intersections of feminism. That’s a big thing at the WSU because we’re an intersectional feminist group so we want to look at the different ways marginalized groups face different challenges.”
This theme is echoed by AMWA, a student organization that seeks to advance women in medical careers and bring attention to women’s health issues, according to its website. In an email, the AMWA E-Board highlighted Women’s History Month as a time to expand these efforts.
“AMWA’s mission for the month of March is to further implement these national goals within our chapter on campus,” the AMWA E-Board wrote in a statement to Pipe Dream. “In doing so, this month we are looking to collaborate with other clubs, no official plans just yet, in order to communicate to our members the current issues in women’s health. As an [e-board], [Women’s History] Month is a chance to shine the light on the importance of equal representation not only in medicine, but in all fields.”
While the AMWA has plans for the month of March, the e-board would like to see more communication from the University regarding its preparations for the month.
“We are not currently aware of any efforts the University has made in honor of [Women’s History] Month,” the AMWA E-Board wrote. “With that being said, if there is a mission from the University regarding [Women’s History] Month, it should be more advertised in order to make the resources available to the student body.”
Although the University may not yet have concrete plans, BU Athletics is honoring the month is by remembering and celebrating the careers of current and former female student-athletes on an interactive page of the BU Bearcats website. According to the website, a celebratory event is planned for April in New York City, and athletes from the past 50 years of BU Athletics will be honored.