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DEI in action: Women's History Month

March 17, 2022

During the month of March, we celebrate Women’s History Month, noting just a few of the vast contributions of James Madison College (faculty, alumni and students). We reflect upon the contributions of Dr. Barbara Steidle, the first and only permanent woman dean of James Madison College. We also honor Dr. Katherine O’Sullivan See, who was the first female tenured professor, and helped shape JMC’s Social Relations and Policy, and Comparative Culture and Politics majors. In addition, we acknowledge Mary Kay Henry, the first woman president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Our JMC students have also made outstanding contributions. We recognize Abii-Tah Chungong Bih, the first Black female student body president of Michigan State University. Also, we salute Rosa Razmi, who currently serves as JMC’s Student Senate President.

As we reflect upon important contributions, we must also evaluate continuous gender inequities. Consider the following:

In the United States…..

  • As of 2020, women earn 84% of what men earn.
  • Women of color comprise 20% of first-year law students.
  • Women comprise just 22% of presidents at elite research universities; yet they encompass the majority of students on college campuses.
  • Professional female athletes continue to combat wage gap disparities.
  • Women comprise only 15% of CEOs at Fortune 500 Companies.
  • Seventy-two percent of all K-12 educators are women, yet only 24% are superintendents.
  • Women comprise a majority of nontenure-track professors, but a minority of tenure-track and full professors.
  • The pandemic affected women negatively compared to their male counterparts, with four times as many women as men leaving the labor force to address the Coronavirus child-care crisis.
Throughout March, JMC’s Office of Diversity Programming will spotlight faculty, staff, students and alumni who have, or are making significant contributions to the College. In addition, please see additional events occurring at MSU during March in honor of Women’s History Month and courtesy of Michigan State University’s GenCen website.

Anthropologist Margaret Mead is credited with stating, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Yes, many inequities are systemic; however, we do have the capacity to effect change. One such way is by attending events offered at Michigan State. I encourage you to join me in attending these events, then furthering your activism by developing your own plan of social action to support Women’s rights.


Brian Johnson

Assistant dean for diversity, equity and inclusion