Women’s and Gender Studies celebrates 35 years

Maia Zewert

The Women’s and Gender Studies held a panel on Thursday to celebrate its 35th anniversary this year.

“I feel very honored to be a part of this program,” said Gloria Jones-Johnson, director of the program.

The panel focused on the history of Women’s Studies since its founding in 1977. Jones-Johnson co-moderated the forum along with Yalem Teshome, a professor within the program.

Cornelia Flora, distinguished professor of sociology, kicked off the panel, recalling a time when she was a part of a committee fighting to get a class entitled “Sociology of Women” offered at the university.

“We got asked why there was no ‘Sociology of Men’ course,” Flora said. “We said every class taught the sociology of men.”

The program grew eventually to take on about 100 students each year for 7 years. Ten percent of each class were men, Flora said.

The panel also included Kathy Hickok, professor of English who served three terms as chairwoman/director of the Women’s Studies Program, Madeleine Henry, professor of world languages and cultures and long time Women’s Studies program member.

Other panelists included Brenda Daly, who before retiring taught Women’s Studies from the sophomore through graduate level, and Lisa Ossian, professor of history at the Des Moines Area Community College who published a book on women at home during World War II.

One point each panelist focused on was the fact that Women’s Studies would not be as accepted as it is today had it not been for the camaraderie of those working to get the program recognized and the hard work of those in the past.

“We wouldn’t be here without those who went before us,” Daly said.

The Women’s and Genders Studies program will be celebrating its 35th anniversary for the rest of the calendar year with panels and forums.