Celebrating Women's History Month

March 16, 2022

Dear Gonzaga Community,

I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
Malala Yousafzai

What began as “Women’s History Week” in Santa Rosa, California, in 1978 quickly gained momentum with President Jimmy Carter issuing the first Presidential Proclamation in 1980 declaring the week of March 8 as National Women’s History Week. Seven years later, Congress designated March as “Women’s History Month.” This year, the theme of Women’s History Month is “Women Providing Healing, Promoting Hope,” celebrating the tireless work of caregivers and frontline workers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ways women of all cultures have provided healing and hope throughout history.

At Gonzaga, we celebrate the contributions – and importance of – women in myriad ways. Women fill critical positions at the University, from legal counsel and vice presidents to deans of academic programs, as well as countless support roles in every area of university life. In 2021, four of seven deans were women, and today nearly half of the president’s executive leadership team is female.

In our schools, women’s studies is growing as an academic discipline as well. The Women’s & Gender Studies program began in 1991 and has seen significant growth in student interest with students formally declaring the minor grew from 18 in 2011 to 46 in 2019, a 150% increase over eight years. (See a related 2021 feature here.) Within the School of Leadership Studies, one of the most popular programs is Women Lead, which offers one-day conferences to aid both men and women in addressing gender-based workplace challenges and a host of other relevant topics.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down in-person events, women across campus had planned year-long activities in recognition of the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. As part of our “19th & Counting” series, faculty members wrote personal reflections on moments in women’s history that inspired or impacted them which you can read here. These contributions are but the tip of the iceberg in recognizing the importance of Women’s History Month. As women in the U.S. and around the world continue to face economic inequity and other injustices, our mission to educate men and women to be people for others calls for our attention to these matters.

There are many ways that you can celebrate Women’s History Month. Listed below are a few ways.

  1. Explore the history of women’s rights
  2. Be aware of issues women still face today
  3. Post on social media to spread awareness of Women’ History Month
  4. Support a women’s nonprofit
  5. Host an event to celebrate women

Let’s be mindful of what this month means to the world. We will continue to celebrate women and their accomplishments now and always.

With deep appreciation,

Charlita Shelton, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff to the President