- Category: Volume 88 (Fall 2016 - Spring 2017)
- Published: 12 April 2017
- Written by CORAL COOPER | CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Women holding powerful positions has often been unheard of for the majority of American history. Of course, there were revolutionaries that broke through to become successful in otherwise male dominated fields such as Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman on the supreme court; Janet Yellen, Chair of the Federal Reserve of the United States; and Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors. More women than in the past have recently held powerful positions.
Even right here at Monmouth, women hold powerful positions, but it was not easy to get there. Dr. Johanna Foster, Director of the Sociology Program in the department of political science and sociology, teaches gender studies and discusses being a woman in the professional world of today.
Foster recalls when her gender affected other’s views on how she would manage her work. “I was eight months pregnant and the University asked how I would be a professor and a mother.” Today, this question would still have the misogynistic undertones it had back then.
Another time, Foster was asked by a chair to take on an administrative position, assuming that she would be better at multitasking because she was a mother.
The issues of biased perceptions of women put them under a negative scope within the workplace and that practice is still common today. However, Foster noted she has not experienced gender biases from faculty while working at Monmouth.
Maintaining respect and authority within a classroom environment requires more effort than a male professor does, Foster believes. “I am aware that my authority in a classroom can come across confrontational as a women’s studies professor. I use a lot of humor to manage my own authority,” Foster continued.
Alicia Torello, a senior communication student and the President of Student Activities Board, noticed respect is more than something that needs to be earned; to be successful, respect needs to be given to others as well. “I worked to gain the respect of my board by remaining honest and hardworking in SAB.”
“I think successful women need to establish a habit of encouraging and inspiring other women to gain respect as well as celebrate themselves for their achievements and successes,” Torello said.
Foster said she is inspired by many women around the world from the feminist movement but explains that her mother was an advocate for victims of domestic violence during the early second wave feminist movement. “Coincidentally, I began to study gender inequality and feminism in college and my mother happened to be a part of it,” Foster revealed.
Foster suggested that students looking to impact inequality should educate themselves on the issues. Gender inequality goes hand in hand with class inequality, race inequality, and any other form of social wrongs.
Jill Murphy, a junior communication student, has ran for e-board positions in two separate organizations. “I know that people think that being respected as a woman is different than the respect a man is given, but I do not really see that because I have never been in that situation.”
Murphy has ran for an e-board position in Hawk TV, which is co-ed, and for her sorority, Phi Sigma Sigma, “Although I did not really think it was any different, I felt in my interviews that I did not come off too strong to the co-ed board because I did not want to give a wrong impression,” Murphy said.
When it comes to maintaining respect and being recognized for one’s abilities and achievements, women may have to try harder for it. “A successful woman should be confident and not let people take advantage of her; especially in the workplace, it is important to stand your ground to be taken seriously,” Murphy said.
Murphy states that a role model of hers is Michelle Obama; she is impressed by her views and Ivy League academic background. “Her philanthropic beliefs were something that needed serious attention in America, and the way she could get an entire crowd’s attention with her speeches mesmerizes me,” Murphy explained.
Foster also commented on the profit corporations are gaining by marketing feminism. “Buying things does not make you empowered. They try to sell liberation.” Greed and superficiality has become prominent in new philosophies on feminism, but buying a “Girl Power” t-shirt does not allot women equal rights. “Feminism has been supersized to sell empowering things.”
“It is a very different world, but the issues for women are still there,” Foster noted, “Unless the folks in power are questioned about inequality, nothing will change. It’s not done enough. We can’t Facebook post our way out of rape culture, or tweet away the wage gap.
PHOTO TAKEN by Alexandria Afanador