Rollins Celebrates Women’s History Month

March 01, 2024

By Jessica Firpi ’11

Women's History Month 2024 at Rollins
Photo by Scott Cook, Zach Stovall, Maegan Gindi, and Reagan Cooney.

During the celebration of Women’s History Month, Rollins is honoring the lives and impact of trailblazing women whose contributions and legacy have shaped the fabric of society in the Rollins community and beyond.

The month of March is designated as Women’s History Month as the U.S. honors the contributions and sacrifices of women who have helped shape our nation’s history, culture, and society.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter issued the first presidential proclamation by declaring the week of March 8—coinciding with International Women’s Day—as Women’s History Week. In his message, Carter said, “Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength, and love of the women who built America [were] as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.” It took several years before Congress followed suit and expanded the event to the entire month of March.

Since its founding in 1885, Rollins has built a rich legacy in support of countless women who have come to study, teach, and serve. At Rollins, we’re observing Women’s History Month and this year’s “Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion” theme with a diverse lineup of events on campus and in the community that offer a host of ways to honor and celebrate the historical impact of women on society.

From thought-provoking conversations and themed celebrations to academic introspection and career-defining programs, discover a few of the ways the Rollins community is honoring women innovators and visionaries and inspiring new generations of women and their allies.

Olin Library at Rollins
Photo by Scott Cook.

Olin Library

Throughout March, in the main lobby of the Olin Library, you can celebrate Women’s History Month by diving into a display centered on “Barbie & Intersectional Feminism,” featuring several Barbies from the Barbie Inspiring Women Collection, including Ella Fitzgerald and Sally Ride, along with a variety of titles, ranging from Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics by Bell Hooks to For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez.

The theatrical release of the Barbie movie last year has had an empowering effect on women and men of all ages and has brought into the spotlight the ways women can experience inequality unequally. Intersectional feminism acknowledges how a wide range of social, political, and economic issues can affect a person, resulting in different experiences of discrimination and privilege.

Students in a classroom
Photo by Scott Cook.

Critical Coursework

Women’s contributions touch every field of study, which is recognized at Rollins in everything from our interdisciplinary minor in Sexuality, Women’s, and Gender Studies (SWAG) to the influence of women trailblazers in every field and discipline.

In sociology professor Stephanie Gonzalez Guittar’s Reproductive Justice course, students learn about the past, present, and future of reproductive justice and how it encompasses all the struggles that women, particularly marginalized women, have endured to obtain and maintain bodily autonomy and access to reproductive health. This course incorporates an analysis of issues like the cultural meaning and corporatization of menstruation, contraception, and abortion access, the history of eugenics and its impact on sterilization abuse of marginalized people in the U.S., and more.

In Sociological Theory, sociology professor Joanna Eisele familiarizes students with social theory from the early 19th century to the present, but during Women’s History Month students learn about some of the earliest female sociologists, such as Harriet Martineau, Simone de Beauvoir, the women of the Chicago School of Sociology, Audre Lorde, Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, and Judith Lorber.

“As we learn about sociological theory, it is also important to learn about voices that have been written out of the discipline,” says Eisele. “Students have probably never heard of them before this class, but that isn’t because they didn’t do amazing work. These women collected data, created new methodological tools, and sought social reform.”

In addition, Eisele teaches Introduction to Sex, Women, and Gender Studies, which examines multiple waves of feminism and their historical implications for women’s lives, the contributions of a wide variety of female authors to the discipline, and key issues and debates around the topics like gender and sexuality in society, gender stereotypes, violence, privilege and oppression, intersectionality, transgender issues, queer theory, and masculinity.

Reagan Cooney with her research mates and Rollins professors at the conference
Photo by Courtesy of Reagan Cooney.

Hands-On Research

Through Rollins’ Student-Faculty Collaborative Scholarship Program, history majors Liam King ’24, Peyton Connor ’24, Reagan Cooney ’25, and Helen Hutchinson ’24 undertook the ambitious task of producing a photographic history of Rollins from the student perspective alongside history professor Claire Strom and digital archivist Rachel Walton.

In January 2024, the group presented their research at the Florida Conference of Historians in Melbourne, and Cooney narrowed her scope to focus solely on the impact and history of women in academics at Rollins.

“It is very important to recognize that unlike many other institutions of higher education, Rollins was co-educational from the beginning,” shares Cooney. “This allowed our school to have a variety of learning opportunities specifically geared toward women on campus.”

Cooney says learning about the history of women in academics at Rollins has redefined her own Rollins journey and has helped her gain a new appreciation for her own standing on campus. Sometime in spring 2024, their research will be published as a book available for purchase from Arcadia Publishing.

Women in Finance students in New York
Photo by Maegan Gindi.

Women in Finance Program

Rollins’ Women in Finance Program is opening doors for female students to secure internships and explore career pathways in the finance sector. A study by the University of California at Davis found that women hold just 18 percent of the nation’s finance jobs, even less than STEM fields—but Rollins aims to improve that number.

Facilitated by economics professor Anca Voicu and a group of business professors, the program includes one-on-one guidance through the Office of Business Advising in addition to mentoring through Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business, alumni networking, site visits, Excel training, internships, and a semester-long, independent study course.

“The Woman in Finance program was a semester-long experience that changed the course of my future,” says international business major Sonia Canizalez ’24, now a compliance analyst at StoneX. “The program introduced me to StoneX, which happened to be the company where my mentor worked. Her advice inspired me to take on any learning opportunity offered to me whether an internship, study abroad program, or leadership position. I followed her suggestion, and a year later, I applied for an internship at StoneX. It was due to her guidance to push myself to be disciplined and try new experiences that I was offered a full-time position after graduation.”

Debate Like a Girl

For the first time in the College’s history, Rollins has an all-women debate team. Made up of Abigail Buffington ’27, Nora England ’27, Shaya Mariji ’27, Ana Mentucci ’26, Linda Saraniti ’26, Lindsey Scanlan ’26, and co-captains Jiya Manchanda ’25 and Abrielle “Elle” Mannino ’25, the team is currently ranked No. 1 in the Southeast for ethics debating.

“I think this means a lot because it shows that women are breaking through a glass ceiling,” shares philosophy professor and faculty advisor Eric Smaw. “Debate, historically, has been a male co-curricular activity.”

In February 2024, they competed in the 28th annual Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE) Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl, placing 12th in the nation. More than 200 teams across the country compete in regional competitions just to qualify for the bowl, making their accomplishment even more impressive.

“What I can see, that they can’t see, is that they are making history in the present,” says Smaw. “Years from now, there will be young women who are interested in joining the Rollins College Debate Team and they’ll know about the mystique of the team and the accomplishments of the team.”

Student writing a thank you note
Photo by Zach Stovall.

5-Minute Difference

  • When: Thursday, February 29
  • Where: Outside Campus Center

Facilitated by the Center for Leadership & Community Engagement and the Lucy Cross Center for Women, Gender, & Sexuality, this 5-Minute Difference event will focus on writing appreciation notes to inspiring women in your life and sharing the names of inspirational women at Rollins. With the area adorned with quotes from female leaders, stop by for your next inspiring mood-board quote and collect a bracelet or other table goodies.

Zine and collage

Zine Making

  • When: March 1 | 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
  • Where: French House Lounge

Sponsored by Voices for Women, drop by the French House for some zine making.

Rollins theatre students attending a lecture
Photo by Scott Cook.

A Conversation about Gender and Sexuality in Theatre and Dance

  • When: Friday, March 1 | 2:15-3:45 p.m.
  • Where: Bush 176

The Theatre and Dance Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility Council invites you to an open conversation to learn more about students’ experiences surrounding gender and sexuality in theater and dance spaces. What’s not working? What can we bring to campus from other places you’ve been or heard about? Where can we celebrate?

This robust discussion will be generously supported by campus partners Spectrum, the Wellness Center, Rollins Improv Players, and SWAG.

Presentation: Healthy Relationships and Preventing Interpersonal Violence

  • When: March 5 | 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
  • Where: Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, Room 320

Join us for a Harbor House presentation on healthy relationships and preventing interpersonal violence. Harbor House works to prevent and eliminate domestic abuse in Central Florida by providing critical life-saving services to survivors, implementing and advancing best practices, and educating and engaging the community in a united front.

Consent Carnival

  • When: March 5 | 5 – 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mills Lawn

Sponsored by the THRIVE peer educator program and Title IX and co-sponsored by the department of SWAG, the Consent Carnival encourages healthy relationships and consent. Participating organizations included Student Government Association (SGA), Residential Life & Explorations (RLE), X-Club fraternity, and Alpha Delta Pi sorority, among others.

Students in Dave's at a game night
Photo by Scott Cook.

Trivia Night

  • When: March 19 | 8-9 p.m.
  • Where: Dave’s Boathouse

Brought to you by the Center for Campus Involvement, Curtis Earth will be hosting trivia night in Dave’s Boathouse: Women’s History Month edition! Grab a friend and test your knowledge to win a prize.

Screenstill from "Out in the Dark"

Film Screening and Pinkwashing Discussion

  • When: March 21 | 6:15 p.m.
  • Where: Kathleen W. Rollins Hall, Room 128

The department of SWAG and the Rollins Film Club are co-hosting a screening of Out in the Dark, a film that tells the story of a queer relationship between an Israeli lawyer and a Palestinian student. Following the screening, there will be an interactive discussion about the movie, touching on topics such as pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is a tactic employed by various groups in which the promotion of LGBTQ+ rights are used to legitimize violence against different communities.

Margot Robbie in the Barbie movie
Photo by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Barbie & Feminism Tea Party

  • When: March 26 | 3:30–4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Olin Library, Room 230

Hey, Barbie! The Olin Library invites the campus to join in the dream-house fun, dressed in their garden party best, for an afternoon of tea, snacks, and a discussion about Barbie, her impact on societal standards, and the role historical women paved for modern-day feminism.

Caroline Peters Talk

  • When: March 26 | 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: Bush 176

Caroline Peters, South African feminist and human rights activist and founder of the Callas Foundation, will speak about gender-based violence. Peters is in the U.S. in March to speak at the UN Commission on the status of women.

Peters played a pivotal role in establishing civil society representation in the domestic violence act, facilitating training for various first responders and community members to combat gender-based violence. In addition to her numerous leadership positions, Peters also coordinates the Food Agency Cape Town (FACT) Kitchen Network, an initiative that works specifically around the intersection of food insecurity and violence against women, underscoring her commitment to addressing not only immediate challenges but also the broader social issues that contribute to women's vulnerabilities.

Black Renaissance: Women Are the Spark

  • When: March 27 | 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Bush 176

In observance of Women’s History Month and in continuation of Black History Month, join the Black Women’s Circle for a viewing and discussion that celebrates the power and impact of the artists and activists who have given others permission to aim higher through their art, activism, and audacity. Refreshments will be provided. All Rollins employees are welcome to attend.

Women and the Peace Process

  • When: March 27 | 4 – 5:30 p.m.
  • Where: French House Lounge

A representative from a community activist group will join us to share their own activism and discuss women’s role in peace and justice initiatives.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Resource Fair

  • When: March 28 | 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Where: Mills Lawn

For more information contact the Office of Title IX.

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