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FOR this year's Women's History Week, the Committee on Degrees in Women's Studies has put together a multicultural and multinational series of speakers and panels that explores the past from the perspective of a majority of the world's population.
As the week unfolds, all students should consider the importance of creating a space within the academy for voices that have been too long excluded. Women's history should not be relegated to one week; the Harvard administration and Faculty should make a commitment to hiring (and tenuring) more scholars who can teach the history of traditionally excluded peoples.
Among Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia, Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell and Stanford, Harvard ranks dead last in the number of tenured women and sixth out of eight in the number of nontenured women faculty. Even considering the small pool of female Ph.D. candidates, Harvard would have to add 17 tenured women and 11 non-tenured women to its Faculty to make female representation consistent with the national norm, according to the University's most recent affirmative action report.
Harvard should provide sufficient funding to the Women's Studies committee so that it can accept everyone who wants to choose the concentration and have room for all non-concentrators who want to take Women's Studies courses.
WE ARE now in an academic setting where students have been demanding increased minority and women faculty hiring and where women have begun to speak out against subtle--and not so subtle--sexism in the classroom and in textbooks. Women's History Week is the academic counterpart to such protests; studying scholarly work by and about people who have been left out of most history books is a protest against the current homogeneity of today's academy.
It is important to continue working towards a time when women's voices will not be assigned to the margins of history and when women's experiences will form a part of every student's understanding.
Until that time--and even after that time--Women's History Week serves an immensely significant role by forcing all of us to examine what we know as history and to finally read the margins of that history. We encourage all students to attend this week's events.
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