A message from the person who gave our symposium its name - Dr. Deborah A. Ballam, a four-time OSU graduate, former provost for Women's Policy Initiatives, and director of The Women's Place. She spent her career working tirelessly to improve gender equity and the lives of all Buckeyes. "Last October, I was honored to receive an invitation from Shadia Jallaq to be the keynote speaker at this year’s Symposium. The Association of Staff and Faculty Women was an incredibly important organization for me personally during my years at Ohio State. Since we cannot be together as planned, I would like to offer an abbreviated version of my thoughts.
The theme of my talk was “Influence.” Since the Symposium planned to honor the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, I decided to talk about influence in the context of the suffrage movement as well as my experiences at Ohio State.
Influencing social change, bending the arc towards social justice, is not a solitary pursuit. The flame of a single candle can easily be blown out. The flames from a bonfire cannot be ignored. Influence is not a solitary pursuit.
Everyone who studies the suffrage movement knows the role played by towering historical figures like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Candy Stanton, Alice Paul, and Sojourner Truth. However, the success of the movement occurred because of the hundreds of thousands of unknown women who marched, lobbied, were jailed, and were beaten, but nevertheless persisted.
For example, on March 3, 1913, the day before Woodrow Wilson was inaugurated as president, thousands of women, along with 20 floats and nine marching bands, marched down Pennsylvania Avenue in support of women's right to vote. Some of the marchers were attacked, tripped, and spit upon. Over 100 had to be hospitalized.
Yet, they finished the march.
Alice Paul organized the event, but it would have been meaningless without the thousands of nameless women who participated. Some of those women might have been your great grandmother or great aunt. Such events were replicated for years over the country. The culmination was the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920. Sisterhood is powerful. The same dynamic occurred here at Ohio State in the 1990s with the rise of the women’s grassroots network. Over a period of months, women faculty, staff and students of all races, ethnicities and sexual orientation came together over a period of months to form a group to pressure the university to meaningfully address the many human rights inequities at the university. Creating this network took months of meetings, inviting all women’s voices to be meaningful and equal participants in the process, and making all women feel they were the network.
Thousands of Ohio State women had come together as a sisterhood to demand change. One of the key groups in making this happen was the Association of Staff and Faculty Women. Sisterhood is powerful.
Although the end goals are still to be achieved, beginnings were made to address the myriad of issues existing here. One of the results of the women's grassroots network was the creation of The Women's Place.
Influence, then, is not a solitary pursuit. Group action is essential. Sisterhood is indeed powerful. Keep the bonfire burning!"
ASFW thanks the following program sponsors: Champion level: Ohio State University's College of Pharmacy and College of Social Work; Advocate level: Ohio State College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Services.