Trinity celebrates Women’s History Month

Women and Gender Studies welcomes inclusive dialogue

To celebrate Women’s History Month, the Women and Gender Studies minor (WAGS) offered the Trinity community opportunities for involvement through Instagram trivia contests, booths for writing postcards to women and a conversation on revolutionary women of color. WAGS will, additionally, hold a movie night and a panel discussion on women in academia.

Sarah Erickson, assistant professor of communication, co-directs the minor in Women and Gender Studies with Gina Tam, professor of history. She said that a part of the WAGS mission is to build a community around having conversations about gender at Trinity. She went on to explain that, for Women’s History Month, it is important to recognize that “woman” means anyone who identifies as a woman. While WAGS does focus on how women have been oppressed throughout history, it also allows for a conversation on how gender is a social construct and a part of everyone’s daily lives.

“There’s a long history in women’s studies and in feminism, as a movement, of sort of privileging the experiences of straight white women. And we [WAGS] are really committed to not doing that, and trying to take into account race, ethnicity, sexuality and class background,” Erickson said. “We had Women’s Studies. But that did not take into account the fact that gender is a social construct. We see gender as a more complicated identity. And so that’s why we wanted to include gender studies.”

The minor has eight core classes and is present in more than 12 disciplines, such as English, history and political science. Erickson said they are working on adding more STEM classes since gender affects everyone across all disciplines. A few questions the minor explore include: How does gender impact our day-to-day lives? How does it shape the world that we live in? And what responsibility do we have to each other in terms of trying to change that world for the better?

“Gender is something that is so often overlooked or misunderstood and so many people feel that it is unnecessary to study because of this, but that’s why I think it is critical to study,” senior and WAGS minor Tyler Sanderson said. “It is something that affects not only our identities and the way we view ourselves but also our life experiences. In understanding gender, and the issues that intersect with gender, we are better able to understand each other.”

To explain how gender impacts everyday life, Erickson gave the example of car safety testing. The dummies used in these tests are based on the male body, therefore putting women at further risk than men in car accidents.

“Women’s History Month is important for the same reason that WAGS is important as a subject. History rarely focuses on women when it is taught to us. But there are a lot of important women in history,” sophomore Kira Kruegler said. “Women play as much of a part in life as men do. And history is disproportionately focused on men when it’s not to us [women].”

Kruegler, who is a music major, is currently taking her first course within the WAGS minor, Introduction to Gender Studies. She said she likes the class because she thinks it brings relevant topics into academia.

Sanderson, on the other hand, a senior with a declared WAGS minor, has taken many courses in WAGS.

“I quickly decided to minor in it [WAGS]. I have truly loved every single course I’ve taken and felt as though they add value to not only my academic life but also my personal life,” Sanderson said. “My favorite thing about the WAGS minor is how passionate everyone in the department is. Professors and students alike come together and openly discuss the things that have been presented to us as taboo for so long in a way that is so refreshing.”

Through their events, WAGS is encouraging Trinity community members to join the conversation on women in history as well as the complexity of gender. On March 30, they will have a screening of “10 Things I Hate About You” to discuss the role women play in the film. They are partnering with the Trinity Diversity Connection (TDC) to present a panel of professors discussing women in academia the next day, March 31. Earlier in the month, they had a booth to write thank you cards to women.

“I did help with the thank you card table, and our goal with that event was to reach out so that students are aware of the department and minor,” junior WAGS intern Sydney Crowther said. “We hoped to spread positive energy with some wonderful thank you cards for staff and faculty, and give out some great stickers and pins for students to enjoy. It was a great experience.”

To learn about other events held by WAGS, you can follow their Instagram, @trinitywags. Every Wednesday in March, they hold a women’s trivia contest and give a gift bag to the winner. The gift bag includes one novel, one memoir, one feminist theory book and some stickers.

“We are definitely making progress in at least getting people to change the way they talk about gender. Obviously, we are not ‘there’ by any means,” Erickson said. “But I do think that by educating people, having these conversations and getting people to think about it, we can start to reshape the world.”