Q&A with the President
The launch of "The Status of Women" series marks the second year that Meredith has sponsored a yearlong series of speakers and events around a central theme. The inaugural theme was "Our World, Our Responsibility: Contributing to Positive Change around the Globe."
In the interview below, President Maureen Hartford explains why "The Status of Women" was selected as a focus for the coming year.
Why is it important for the Meredith community to examine "The Status of Women"?
Hartford: There is an unfinished agenda for women in the U.S. For example, there's a fair amount of data that suggests women still are not entering some of the fields in which we need them to be. In fields as diverse as law and medicine, women still aren't earning at the levels of their male counterparts. These are multidisciplinary issues that need to be looked at in a cohesive fashion. As a women's college, we need to understand why and ask ourselves how we can influence change.
Will the campus look at the status of women in both the U.S. and abroad?
Hartford: Yes. As women living in the United States, it is important for our students to hear from women like Shirin Ebadi who — as an Iranian human rights activist — can help us understand what it is like for women in other parts of the world. Even though women have not achieved total parity with men in the U.S., in comparison to the rest of the world, American women still represent a highly privileged minority. Our students also need to be exposed to the areas of the world where women have more rights and privileges.
What impact do you anticipate the theme having on the campus?
Hartford: With so many different generations of women represented in the Meredith community, I see the theme as a way to bring the campus community together. At the end of the year, I hope we will have had serious discussions throughout the campus in as many fields as we can possibly touch on. I hope students will view the series as having had an impact on their lives and that they will have participated in discussions that stretch them and make them uncomfortable.
How does Meredith's 2006 Summer Reading Program selection relate to the "Status of Women" theme?
Hartford: No Ordinary Time is a Pulitzer-prize winning book about Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt that was written by a female historian. The book provides a view into the U.S. presidency at a critical time for women – a time when women were finding options that had not previously been available to them before the World War II.
Eleanor Roosevelt was an influential first lady – she redefined the role. Because he could not travel, Eleanor was in many ways Franklin's view into the world. His presidency was greatly influenced by her views and she made a huge impact on some of his policies. She was incredibly sympathetic to those who were less fortunate and she pushed Franklin to do things like desegregate the military.