In honor of National Women's History Month, the Women's Studies Program will host its 15th annual Women's Week today through Friday in celebration of the achievements and experiences of women.
Along with commemorating the anniversary of the event, this year marks the 30th anniversary of a women's studies course being taught at Ball State.
In 1975 the Women's Studies Committee began development of a women's studies minor, which was approved in 1980. In the 22 years since its approval, the program has grown to include 83 women's studies minors, up from two in 1988, 15 in 1991 and 35 in 1993.
"I think we do extraordinary programming for a program of our size," said Kim L. Jones-Owen, director of the Women's Studies Program. "You'd be hard-pressed to find this kind of strong academic program at another university such as ours."
Jones-Owen has served as director of the university's program since 1994 and said she believes the women's studies program is important for a number of reasons.
"The program is an advocate for interdisciplinary education, which is a powerful way to learn," Jones-Owen said. "Minors in the program can take courses in women's studies while cross-listing with other departments to learn about women in areas such as health, history and science.
"It's a way for us to prove we don't keep our students here but instead send them out to learn all across the campus."
According to the program's mission statement, the Women's Studies Program at Ball State provides a forum for learning and teaching about women's lives and the way society defines gender roles.
This purpose is accomplished in ways that include administration of a minor in women's studies, knowledge about women's issues through a wide variety of programs and service to the public as both a resource to the university and Muncie community.
As part of this year's Women's Week activities, Jones-Owen will depict Belva Lockwood, America's second female candidate for the U.S. presidency, in a dramatic presentation today titled "Vote For Belva: The 1884 U.S. Presidential Campaign of Belva Lockwood."
Jones-Owen said she will dress in authentic costume and focus on the 1884 election and the steps Lockwood took to run for office.
"I'm hoping when people look at the period dress and hear about Lockwood's extraordinary achievements, they'll realize she was a little-known but extremely important woman in U.S. history," she said.
Julee LaNelle Rosser, assistant director of the Women's Studies Program and Women's Week chair, said preparations for this year's Women's Week began last July. The week will feature about 20 events - including lectures, presentations and exhibits - that will focus on a variety of women's issues.
Jones-Owen said the Women's Week Committee focused on bringing in a vast representation of women with expertise in a number of different areas.
"We wanted to show the range of what women are doing to prove that you could name any field and be able to bring in any speaker with impressive credentials and significant experience in that area," Jones-Owen said.
In promotion of this year's event Rosser said the Women's Week Committee has distributed more than 5,000 brochures both on and off campus and has received widespread media coverage to the events with the help of University Relations.
Jones-Owen said she hopes Women's Week will draw attention to the Women's Studies Program.
"Right now we might be one of the best kept secrets at Ball State," she said, "but word is getting out and we've begun to grow."