Honor, Celebrate, Recognize: Women's History Month at UMass Amherst
Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981, when Congress authorized and requested the president to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as "Women’s History Week." Throughout the next five years, Congress continued to pass joint resolutions designating a week in March as "Women’s History Week."
In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9, designating March 1987 as "Women’s History Month." These proclamations celebrate the contributions women and nonbinary persons have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements they have made over the course of American history.
JOIN THE CELEBRATION
Learn more at the Office of Equity and Inclusion on ways to attend events throughout the month, including "The Hierarchy of Knowledge in Machine Learning And its Consequences," an ADVANCE Distinguished Lecture with Dr. Timnit Gebru. Dr. Gebru is the founder and executive director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) and co-founder of Black in AI, an organization dedicated to increasing the presence of Black people in the field of artificial intelligence.
Also this month, join Jacquie Moloney and Marcie Williams, the first women to serve as chancellors at UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst, for "Barrier Breakers," an engaging and inspiring conversation with two celebrated pioneers in higher education.
Below, we invite you to explore the many resources, articles, and histories of women whose journeys began or continue today at UMass Amherst. Their varied and extraordinary accomplishments, oftentimes achieved amid sexist, racist, and homophobic moments in history, are a testament to the unmatched fortitude and strength upheld by women as they've left their legacies.
UMass Amherst offers an abundance of digital and in-person resources available to the campus community all year long.
The Office of Equity and Inclusion invites the campus community to explore their list of events, suggested readings, and podcasts in celebration of Women's History Month.
Established in 1972, the Center for Women and Community offers many services to meet the needs of the diverse populations of UMass Amherst, the Five Colleges, and Hampshire County.
To raise awareness of the issues and increase visibility of the unique contributions of Black women, women of color, and transfem people, Distinguished Alumna Dr. Irma McClaurin ’76MFA, ’89MA, ’93PhD founded the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA). It is a collaboration with UMass Amherst Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center.
The Valley Women's History Collaborative is an active group of students, scholars, archivists, and community volunteers dedicated to researching, collecting, preserving, and publicizing the history of women in Hampshire, Franklin, and Hamden counties from the mid-1960s to the present.
Explore the Five College's course catalogue to find faculty that specialize in: African American women's history; feminist history; 20th-century US women's history; histories of women and gender in Latin America; and much more.
The Stonewall Center has been a cornerstone of support for the campus LGBTQ+ community for more than 35 years. The center provides support, resources, programming, and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, asexual, and allied students, staff, and faculty at UMass Amherst and for Western Massachusetts.
Revolutionary Women on Campus
Groundbreaking research, social justice advocacy, and record-breaking athleticism: UMass Amherst women continue to excel academically, push boundaries, and strive for a better tomorrow.
Whitney Battle-Baptiste, professor of anthropology and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Center, was recently selected to serve as the American Anthropological Association's president-elect/vice president for 2021-23. She is a historical archaeologist of African and Cherokee descent whose work focuses primarily on the intersection of race, class, and gender in the shaping of cultural landscapes across the African diaspora.
Epidemiologist Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson is the senior author on a recent study that suggests women who experience menopause before the age of 45 are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and dementia, among other health conditions.
Aviva Palencia ’22 recently translated into Spanish the materials for an exhibition, We Are For Freedoms, at the University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA). The translation project, a first for the campus, was a collaboration between UMCA and the UMass Translation Center.
The 2022 season brought record-breaking success for the Minutewomen — After coming back from a 15-point deficit to come out on top over Fordham University, UMass recorded its 21st victory, becoming the first team in program history to reach the feat in a single season.
Environmental Toxicology Professor Kathleen Arcaro is a lead author on a recent study that suggests women vaccinated against COVID-19 transfer SARS-CoV-2 antibodies to their breastfed infants, potentially giving their babies passive immunity against the coronavirus.
Read about just a few of the remarkable women who have graduated from UMass Amherst.
Madeleine May Kunin ’56
Madeleine May Kunin was the first female governor of Vermont and the first woman in the US to serve three terms. She served as deputy secretary of the US department of Education and US ambassador to Switzerland in the Clinton administration. She is the founder and board member of the Global Institute for Sustainable Communities, focused on climate change and civil society, as well as Emerge Vermont, an organization that recruits and trains women to run for public office.
Natalie Cole ’72
Natalie Cole (1950-2015) was a singer, songwriter, and actress. Daughter of singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole, she rose to success in the mid-1970s as an R&B singer. In the 1990s, she sang traditional pop by her father, resulting in her biggest success, Unforgettable... with Love, which sold over seven million copies and won her seven Grammy Awards. She sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Betty Shabazz ’75EdD
Betty Shabazz (1934-1977) was an educator and civil rights activist. The wife of Malcolm X, Shabazz became an important political activist after her husband's assassination in 1965. In the 1970s, Shabazz began giving public lectures on the African American condition, fighting for education and human rights causes.
Cady Coleman ’91
Catherine "Cady" Coleman is a chemist, engineer, former United States Air Force colonel, and retired NASA astronaut. She is a veteran of two Space Shuttle missions, and departed the International Space Station on May 23, 2011, as a crew member of Expedition 27 after logging 159 days in space.
Briana Scurry ’95
Briana Scurry is a legendary US goalkeeper, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and a World Cup champion. Briana played a pivotal role in soccer history as one of the first African American professional female players and has helped to diversify the sport.
Natasha Trethewey ’95MFA
Natasha Trethewey is a poet who was appointed United States Poet Laureate in 2012 and again in 2013. She won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her 2006 collection, Native Guard, and is a former Poet Laureate of Mississippi.
Audie Cornish ’01
Audie Cornish is a journalist and a former co-host of NPR's All Things Considered and panelist on Pop Culture Happy Hour. She was previously the host of NPR Presents, a long-form conversation series with creatives about their projects and shaping culture in America. Cornish recently announced she will host a weekly show for CNN+, as well as contribute to the streaming service’s slate of live programming.
Katrina Spade ’13MA
Katrina Spade is a designer, entrepreneur, and death care advocate. Spade is the founder of Recompose, a public-benefit corporation developing a natural alternative to conventional cremation and burial.
Varshini Prakash ’15
Varshini Prakash is a climate activist and executive director of the Sunrise Movement, a 501(c)(4) organization which she co-founded in 2017. She was named on the 2019 Time 100 Next list, and was a co-recipient of the Sierra Club John Muir Award in 2019.
Continue the Conversation
Discover more exceptional students, staff, and alumni, as well as find ways to get involved this month and all year long at UMass Amherst.