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OU celebrates Women’s History Month

According to, Women’s History Month was first established as Women's History Week in 1978, after the school district of Sonoma, California, celebrated the cultural, historical and societal accomplishments made by women. The week later evolved into National Women’s History Month in 1987, honoring the numerous accomplishments made by women around the world.

The National theme for Women’s History Month 2024 is “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.” According to the Ohio University’s Women’s Center’s website, “the theme recognizes women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.” 

The website further discussed how acknowledging the women who embrace and accept everyone is critical in understanding women’s history because leading a life with these values creates equal opportunity and freedom for all women. Chris Fowler, director of the Women’s Center and Margaret Boyd Scholars program, discussed her views on the theme and its educational aspects.

“For me, I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are women that work to eliminate bias and discrimination,” Fowler said. “It’s important to learn different voices and uplift others fighting for women’s rights and helping to end gender bias.” 

Similarly to the importance of recognizing women who fight for one another, Women's History Month is a time when people should acknowledge the contributions made by women that are often overlooked. Katherine Jellison, associate professor of history, said it is important to celebrate throughout the month. 

“Just to draw attention to the fact that half of the population has a history, which seems like the proverbial no-brainer, but still too often in pre-university level education I think people mainly learn about the supposed great men in history and don’t know a lot about women’s experience in history,” Jellison said.

Jellison enjoys making Women’s History Month special for her students through different activities in and outside the classroom. One of these activities includes a women’s history walking tour around OU that she started last year. 

The Margaret Boyd Scholars Program educates women throughout the year, not just during March. The program launched in 2013 and continues to educate undergraduate women at OU about leadership, women’s issues and gender bias as well as the first female graduate at OU, Margaret Boyd. Fowler discussed what inspired her to become involved in the program and her history with the creator, Patti McSteen. 

“Originally when I was working on my doctorate degree, I did a practicum with Dr. Patti McSteen,” Fowler said. “I did that in 2015 ... and really enjoyed working with her on that. Throughout the years, I’ve learned about the Margaret Boyd scholars and have been really impressed with the program.” 

The program also consists of freshmen and senior seminars taught by professors. Miriam Shadis, associate professor of history, said her previous experience helped with her enjoyment in the Margaret Boyd Scholars program.

“It was really exciting to be a part of it,” Shadis said. “I was a faculty member of the advisory board and that was a really cool group of diverse women from around the university.”

Shadis also mentioned her participation in the program’s planning process and how she connected with students and taught topics apart from her typical curriculum. 

Although March is an exciting month that highlights influential women, it is important for students to remember women’s history should be acknowledged throughout the entire year. Jellison discussed the positives of recognizing and understanding women’s history year-round.

“Teaching women’s history specifically, really teaching any kind of history, provides people with role models from the past,” Jellison said. “Particularly teaching women’s history, I think it’s really important to let students know about women who stood up to misogyny (and) sexism. (They are) very brave people.” 

The Division of Diversity and Inclusion and Women’s Center has several events planned throughout Women’s History Month such as a virtual panel to celebrate International Women’s Day March 8. Students, faculty and locals are encouraged to attend and learn about women’s history.


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