Women’s History Month an opportunity to reflect on the many voices of leadership at St. Catherine University

Women's History Month 2021

Following a historic year for women, St. Catherine University - led by women, for women from its beginnings - begins Women’s History Month 2021 celebrating the many examples of leadership and progress made possible by Katies.

“This has been, without question, an extraordinary year for women,” said ReBecca Koenig Roloff 76, president, St. Catherine University. “We see examples of women’s leadership from the highest levels of government down to the improvised workspaces that popped up in homes around the world. We are living in a historic moment that our students at St. Catherine University will look back on with great pride. It’s a history they are writing in the spirit of the alumnae who have led before them.”

History made, history in the making

In a year that has seen a rise in the number of women elected to represent their constituents across branches of government, St. Catherine University was proud to celebrate its own alumni who are actively serving their neighbors. And with the ceiling-shattering moments of the Inauguration, reflect on the Katie who was the first woman to be nominated by a major political party for the same role, back in 1948. 

Current students are changing the world for the better already, like Mary Clare Francois ’23, who founded her nonprofit The Real Minneapolis to help her neighborhood recover from the violence and protests following George Floyd’s murder. Or the students who are collaborating with Mapping Prejudice to bring new light to discriminatory housing inequities of the past, in order to dismantle the systems that allowed the practice to take root. Jessica Miehe, DNP’21 user her coursework at St. Kate’s to bring a school-based health clinic to an elementary school to support the underinsured and uninsured children who attend it — and then expanded the services after COVID limited healthcare access for those students’ parents.

“What our students learn is how to dismantle a problem, and create a solution that’s less of a ‘fix’ and more of a change this world needs,” said Anita Thomas, PhD, executive vice president and provost, St. Catherine University. “The liberal arts bedrock of a St. Kate’s education, combined with the values imbued from the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, is how we educate women to lead and influence.”

Celebrate Women’s History Month Everywhere

St. Catherine University invites everyone to celebrate Women’s History Month. A dedicated web page shares more of the University’s connections to this observance, including a proud history of alumnae who have written their own chapters in ways women lead. 

Other ways to celebrate Women’s History Month include:

  • The Integrated Learning Series this semester explores the conditions for, and the implications of, women’s leadership. The March 2021 guests are intergenerational, from a variety of disciplines and sectors, and will speak to our theme. 
  • The Confluence: Octavia E. Butler at the Intersection of Cultural Critique and Climate Collapse is a virtual conference that will be held the weekend of International Women’s Day.
  • Minnesota Suffragists, a virtual exhibition hosted by the Catherine G. Murphy Gallery. Painted by Minneapolis artist Leslie Barlow, the portraits on view here are featured in the film Citizen, bringing to life the stories of Minnesota suffragists Marie Louise Bottineau Baldwin, Nellie Griswold Francis, Julia Bullard Nelson, Dr. Martha Rogers Ripley, Sarah Burger Stearns and Clara Hampson Ueland.
About Women’s History Month

What began more than 40 years ago as a week to celebrate the many contributions women have made to the nation over the course of American history was designated a month back in 1995. President Jimmy Carter issued the first Presidential Proclamation declaring the Week of March 8th 1980 as National Women’s History Week. The timing coincided with International Women’s Day.

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 designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional resolutions requesting and authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month. Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields.

The National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes the yearly theme. The theme for Women's History Month in 2021 captures the spirit of these challenging times. Since many of the women's suffrage centennial celebrations originally scheduled for 2020 were curtailed, the National Women's History Alliance is extending the annual theme for 2021 to "Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to Be Silenced.”