Women’s History Month, which takes place every March, provides a distinct moment to recognize and discuss women’s history. Yet, Elon University’s recognition of Women’s History Month is inadequate given its academic and financial resources.
Elon’s approach to acknowledging Women’s History Month is modest, and it is clear Elon needs to cultivate more awareness for Women’s History Month — the university has sparsely officially recognized or celebrated Women’s History Month. A simple Google search yields scant results for Elon University’s recognition of Women’s History Month beyond a general notice on the university’s calendar.
Elon’s inadequate recognition of Women’s History Month is disheartening, considering women’s history is a fundamental component of evaluating current conceptions of women in the U.S.
Elon honored Black History Month in February with programming that included panels and forums regarding black history. This successful model of recognition could inspire future celebrations of Women’s History Month.
Women in the U.S. have sought basic citizenship and voting rights for over 250 years, and even so, those rights were often only extended to wealthy white women. From voting rights to the modern feminist movement, the history of women is an inherent part of the U.S.’ story. Better yet, the history of women is an integral aspect of world history.
One cannot see the full picture of what it means to be a woman without delving into women’s history. The stories of women matter. Whether discussing the influence of historical female figures like Queen Elizabeth I or the achievements of female political activists in the 1960s civil rights movement like Ella Baker, these stories are essential to comprehending the current status of women in society.
Elon gives a minimal nod to this crucial lens on history. Above all, Elon needs to do more. Elon should initiate discussions about women’s history — from curating lists of relevant literature to carrying on the conversation in the classroom.
Prominent female historians who deserve recognition for their contributions to the field have written much of women’s history. From film representations of women’s history to keynote speakers to conversations with Elon history professors, Elon can improve upon its current lack of celebration for women’s history month.
Belk Library and its archives are stocked with the stories of women — literature that people could use to expand their knowledge of women’s history if Elon sparks the conversation about it.
Creating a list of notable women’s history books or starting a book club could garner stronger support for educating the Elon community about women’s history. Using literature, students and the larger Elon community could dissect topics such as the women’s rights movement over time and the impact of important individuals on women’s history.
Elon could also address Women’s History Month by creating a weekly newsletter throughout the month highlighting influential figures, podcasts and literature that pertain to women’s history, especially as such educational resources are readily available to students.
Additionally, there is a thriving field of female historians — including the faculty of Elon’s own history department — that Elon could invite to campus to spur a stronger discussion of women’s history during Women’s History Month.
Notably, showing documentaries and movies regarding women’s history, specifically from a range of diverse vantage points, can easily serve this educational vacuum. Elon University could show such film representations of women’s history at Turner Theatre, a resource that is accessible to the entire Elon community.
Furthermore, inviting a speaker to Elon’s campus who is or was directly involved in novel moments of women’s history, such as Jane Fonda or Diane Nash, would represent a greater endorsement of educating the Elon community about women’s history. In these ways, Elon could more robustly bolster Women’s History Month.
Highlighting women’s history in relevant literature, bringing speakers to campus, showing films focusing on achievements of women and hosting community conversations about topics in women’s history are just a few ways Elon can more poignantly address Women’s History Month. Discussions about women’s history should not be limited to one month; however, Elon University has the capacity to spark conversations about this lens of history during the month that is dedicated to doing so.