CSM Offers New Women’s Studies Program

Courses Investigate Cultural, Political, Historical Contributions of Women

How does society communicate about women? What messages do we make about women based on what they wear or how they choose to spend their time? How does society keep women in the roles it has designed and approved for them? What are the issues women face at work, at home and in society? These are just some of the questions students at the College of Southern Maryland will address in the new women’s studies associate of arts and sciences program being offered this fall.

The women’s studies associate degree program will provide students with an understanding of the complex roles of women throughout history and how women's issues have evolved into current practices, expectations and concerns. A background in women’s studies prepares students to work in nearly any field that involves the interaction of men and women whether it is a business, political or social organization according to Nadine Poznanski, an associate professor of communications in the College of Southern Maryland’s languages and literature department. Students will examine significant contributions of women in the arts, science and politics. Courses include “Women, Science and Technology,” “the History of Women in America,” “Sex Roles and Gender and Women Writers.”

“Socially, we tend to focus on men and their accomplishments. If you don’t believe this is true, try to name 10 historically famous women who have made a lasting change on how we perceive or live in our world,” said Poznanski.

“The thing I want to emphasize about this program is that women’s studies is not anti-male; it is about changing the focus of our studies in order to re-conceptualize what we think we know about the impact of women on society,” said Poznanski.

“Women’s studies is also not about eclipsing or challenging the role of men; it is about acknowledging women’s place alongside men. Historically, there have only been two roles for women – the Madonna and the Whore. Most women have always fit into the middle of those two extremes and we need to investigate what options they have and have had available to them, and how they talk about and perceive those roles,” said Poznanski.

“For example, why do we overly sexualize some women but claim that others are frigid or lacking emotion. Why is the discussion of the next potential First Lady so heated and pervasive this year? Is it simply because we are facing the possibility of having the first gentleman, and therefore the role of the president’s spouse might change? What about the difference in the way people talk about Hillary Clinton compared to other candidates, or even compared to Bill [Clinton]?” said Poznanski.

“The great thing about this program is that it is already making people question what they think they know about the issues facing women. I’m excited about the prospective conversations this program will start up that might not have been broached without it,” said Poznanski.

For information on women’s studies call 301-934-7850 or 301-870-3008, Ext. 7850 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7850 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7850 for Calvert County or visit http://www.csmd.edu/ws/.


Female Firsts of Note…

· On April 2, 1870, Victoria Woodhull (1838 – 1927) becomes the first woman to run for president of the United States, 50 years before women were granted the right to vote

· In 1864, Mary Edwards Walker (1832 – 1919) becomes the first female surgeon to be commissioned in the Army. Walker is also the only woman to be ever awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, which she received on July 21, 1861 at Bull Run.

· In 1921, Elizabeth (Bessie) Coleman (1892 – 1926) earns her pilot’s license from the renowned Federation Aeronautique Internationale in France making her the first licensed black pilot in the United States.

· In 1767, Anne Catherine Hoof Green (1720 – 1775) becomes the first woman to run a print shop. She printed the “Maryland Gazette” and is named the official printer for the colony of Maryland.

· In 1914, “Madame” Mary Davenport Engberg (1881 – 1951) becomes the first female orchestra conductor in the world, after she organizes and conducts the 85-member Bellingham Symphony Orchestra in Bellingham, Wash.

· In 1964, Patsy Takemoto Mink (1927 -2002) becomes the first Asian-American elected to Congress. She served Hawaii in the U.S. House of Representatives for 24 years.