Dear Members of the George Washington University Community,
This week, as we begin commemorations for Women's History Month, I am delighted to join our community in honoring the voices and contributions of women and their vital role in shaping the past, present, and future of our nation and our university.
Although it initially began as a weeklong celebration, Women’s History Month has been proclaimed as a national celebration since the 1980s—appropriately recognizing the depth and breadth of impact women have on society. Of course, many significant moments in women’s history have played out just blocks from our campus, whether on Capitol Hill, in the White House, and throughout Washington, D.C. Legislation on voting rights, civil rights, equal pay, or combating violence against women show how far we have come. More recently, we also have witnessed firsthand so many women making history—such as the first to serve as Vice President or, here in our university community, the first to become the most decorated Black athlete in the Winter Olympics.
Being at a university with a majority of women, I recognize that there are countless George Washington University students, faculty, staff, and alumni who have accomplished their own “first,” or who are working each day to create a more equitable society for women. I think about our teaching and research mission and all the student and faculty scholars who are involved in policy work, global women’s issues, health care, or addressing the underrepresentation of women in various disciplines. Having attended several athletic events and student meetings since joining the university, I think about the impressive dedication of our women student-athletes and leaders on campus. And I have been reflecting on the contributions women have made over more than 200 years of our university’s history—building the institution we know today—and the many women who serve in leadership positions in our departments and divisions, as deans in our schools, and on our Board and leadership council.
As we reflect on many moments of challenge, progress, and achievement, we also remember we have much more to do to foster an environment and society of true gender parity. I believe we must continue to challenge gender stereotypes and reject gender discrimination, sexism, and bias that many continue to experience. As an academic institution committed to teaching, research, and service, our university has an important platform to convene, to set examples, and to demonstrate how our teaching, research, and service can create a more equitable and just society. We will always be made stronger by a strong community of women.
I hope that you will join me in celebrating Women's History Month by attending a university event and finding ways to honor the historical and present contributions of women who have given so much to the university, our country, and the world.
Mark S. Wrighton