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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette celebrates Women’s History Month

Photo courtesy of Women’s Strength Club

In 1909, Marquette University became the nation’s first Catholic institution to admit women. 

Since then, societies and organizations led by teams of women have emerged on campus. In celebration of Women’s history, these organizations held meetings and events to discuss the importance surrounding the month of March. 

Of these organizations, one of them included is the Institute of Women’s Leadership. Jennica Webster, director of IWL, said IWL hosted its second annual gala this month, which raised funds for gender research, as well as an International Women’s Day roundtable.

For Webster, March is a time in which IWL strives to highlight the various impacts women have made on the world.

“This month gives us the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and contemporary society,” Webster said. “Those contributions, whether in arts, sciences, politics, faith, business or virtually every aspect of society, have long been overlooked and discounted.”

Karalee Surface, leadership development coordinator of IWL, said IWL also made sure to acknowledge that society still has a long way to go in regard to gender equality. 

“In the midst of the celebration of Women’s History Month where we can draw inspiration from famous difference-makers, there is also an opportunity to take stock of where we are at and what needs to change,” Surface said. “This month allows us a platform to talk about the existing inequities, the areas for improvement and the issues that we’ve yet to address.” 

Elise Koenig, a senior in the College of Engineering and social director of the Society of Women Engineers, said SWE was another organization on campus that held events to commemorate Women’s History Month and motivate fellow women engineers. 

“SWE had a panel this month of about six women who have professional experience in the engineering industry and we were able to talk with them and ask questions,” Koenig said. “We got to learn about the challenges they face in the field as women and how they overcome them.”

During Women’s History Month, Koenig said she finds herself feeling even more appreciative that communities such as SWE exist at Marquette. 

Engineering is such a male-dominated field, so it’s really nice to be able to talk to other girls in SWE about similar things they’re going through,” Koenig said. “There’s just a different kind of understanding.”

Out of STEM occupations in the United States, women make up 34% of employment. The percentage of women employed in engineering occupations is at an even lower statistic of 16%.

Paige Munyon, a senior in the College of Engineering and treasurer of SWE, said that while it’s not exclusive to this month only, SWE also participates in a program throughout the year that is aimed at inspiring the next generation of female engineers.

“SWE does an outreach after school program where we go to Notre Dame, an all-girls middle school, and we introduce the girls to different STEM topics,” Munyon said. “Some of these topics include mixing different chemicals together or learning about how to build a bridge.”

Aside from their typical gatherings, the Women’s Strength Club also introduced new initiatives.

Allison Schmidt, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences and president of the Women’s Strength Club, said her organization can be expected to switch up their group powerlifting routines in light of this month. 

“Coming up, the Women’s Strength Club is going to be having a rock climbing event,” Schmidt said. “We want to do something fun and new that we can learn to do outside of the weight room but will still be something that builds strength and agility.”

Reflecting on what this month means to her personally, as well as what it means to the Women’s Strength Club, Schmidt said it is important to recognize the boundaries that women have broken thus far.

“Women powerlifting has definitely not always been a big thing in history,” Schmidt said. “However, in the past ten years we’re seeing more and more women feeling encouraged to be strong and not be afraid to lift weights. Looking at the past just makes us appreciate how far we’ve come so much more.”

This story was written by Erin Howard. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Erin Howard
Erin Howard, Copy Editor
Erin Howard is a sophomore from Clarendon Hills, Illinois and is studying journalism. This year, Erin will serve on the Marquette Wire as a Copy Editor. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys running and listening to music. Erin is very excited to get to know more people on each branch of the Wire and share the important stories happening around campus.

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