Women’s History Month: Changing stereotypes and empowering women

Women’s History Month is a celebration of women’s accomplishments in history, culture and society. With the Hope College population being predominantly female, Women’s History Month is an exciting and educational time on campus.

Women of Color United (WOCU), is one of the organizations that empower women around campus. Mikayla Zobeck (’22), a co-president of the organization, says that their aim is to encourage students and staff by creating intersectionality with other multicultural student organizations thereby building an inclusive community on campus. “Women’s History Month to me means a month of celebrating women’s resilience and challenges that women are facing around the world. It’s a month to unite and keep overcoming the challenges; to appreciate each other and celebrate our growth and development,” said Zobeck. She added that a month allocated for women is valuable, but women should be celebrating and empowering each other every day.

Here at Hope, organizations such as WOCU and WEO work on creating a community by bringing in speakers in addition to professional development opportunities. “There are many organizations that create space for women to network in a field that interests them, such as WISE,” said Zobeck. 

Zobeck said the biggest challenge she and her partner have had as leaders of WOCU is starting the organization from the ground up. She explained, “When we started, it was unprecedented and Covid-19 was more prominent, which made it hard to get it moving.” A major purpose of WOCU, and other women empowerment organizations on campus, is building relationships by connecting with others. “It is nice having a community of encouragement and support on campus. I know if I need something, they are there to help me,” Zobeck said. 

Poster advertising for the Resilience exhibit at the KAM. Credits to Hope College.

​​In her life, Zobeck says that the women that empower her are her birth mom, adopted mom, her little sister, and Michelle Obama. As an adoptee, Zobeck says that meeting her birth mom and hearing her story was very impactful because “her sacrificial hard work in giving her children a better future showed me her resilience.” Zobeck also mentions that her little sister is influential to her because of her wisdom, knowledge and strength of character. “My mom, adoptive mother, has worked very hard in her life, even with the great loss she suffered,” said Zobeck. As a result, these women motivate Zobeck to be a better daughter and older sister.

In talking about the stereotypes of women, Zobeck says that there are many issues that women face more than their male counterparts including “human trafficking, femicide….[n]ot to mention men being more dominant in business and science-related fields.” As a business major and biochemistry minor, Zobeck mentions that she often feels that she has to work twice as hard to prove her worth. 

Zobeck says that confidence is an essential thing to have as a woman in a society that is not equitable. She goes on to say that it is important that females on campus remind themselves of their value, saying “sometimes, it is okay to fake it till you make it.” Zobeck added that affirmations are crucial in building self-confidence because it allows one to manifest it into the present. In talking about her career path, Zobeck mentioned that she is often going to be depicted as inferior as a woman of color, which can influence her confidence; however, she said, “reminding yourself of who you are, your growth, and reason for being in the field that you are in encourages you to keep pursuing your dreams.”

When asked about the importance of women being in STEM, a male dominant field, Zobeck says that it is all about equity: “It is a big part of giving women of color a voice, and opportunities to build themselves and have access to the building blocks of their goals.”

Events coming up on campus to celebrate Women’s History Month:

  • Come do homework and study at Keppel house on Saturday, March 5.
  • Women of color and BSU panel at 7pm and coffee house collaboration Thursday, March 10.
  • Opening of the Resilience exhibit at the Kruzinga Art Museum 5-7pm Friday, March 11.

Women’s History Month is an annual event that celebrates women and their continuous efforts for success and rising above the stereotypes. So, in honor of March signifying the start of Women’s History Month, we encourage you to join WOCU in celebrating.

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