Looking Back: Women’s Issues Forums hosted empowerment talks


Oakland Post Archives

Author Naomi Wolf spoke at Meadow Brook Theatre for Women’s History Month in March 2002.

The Center for Student Activities and the Women’s Issues Forum (now called the Office for Student Involvement and Students Advocating Gender Awareness, respectively) held events throughout the month of March 2002 that were focused on women’s history. 

With feminism continuing to be a growing movement today, Oakland University has been presenting its dedication to women through the years.

“65% of the students at OU are women and a large faculty on staff are women,” said Jean Ann Miller, director of the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development. “It’s a national celebration.”

Since 2002, the percentage of female students has dropped to 56%, which is still over half of the students that attend OU, according to OU’s Fast Facts.

Throughout the month, there were multiple events taking place and various guest speakers, with the two most highlighted being Naomi Wolf, the author of books “The Beauty Myth,” “Misconceptions” and “Fire with Fire,” and Michigan’s first female senator, Debbie Stabenow.

“I hope I can inspire people to get involved in the government and public services,” Stabenow said before the event. “I’m really looking forward to coming and having an opportunity to share stories about remarkable women in our history. I will also be talking about my experience throughout the years and the challenges I’ve faced.”

When Stabenow presented at OU in 2002, there were only 13 women in the U.S Senate. Since then, the number of women in the Senate has grown to 25, with a total of 56 women ever serving in the Senate.

According to Stabenow, the reason she entered the world of politics was to make a difference in public policy. Throughout her presentation, she emphasized how women even being able to be part of Congress is progress in itself. 

While Senator Stabenow focused more on women’s impact in the workplace and gender equality, Wolf drew everyone’s attention to the “Genderquake,” which is when women use their voting and financial power to change policies. 

One highlighted point in Wolf’s presentation was how many women have high expectations when they are 9 years old but often think they are far-fetched by 19 years old.

“I want the world to be more fair and equitable,” Wolf said. “Now, I acknowledge that there may be some gender differences that are innate, sure. Do I think we ought to make policy out of them? No.”

Wolf was trying to get across the point of the struggle for gender equality and how women today need to take their role in society into consideration. 

Today on campus, there are organizations that highlight all the areas that Wolf was trying to get across. A big group impact on campus is the Feminists of OU, a student organization that holds events to work toward the education of gender equality and minority status of women. OU also has a Women and Gender Studies (WGS) program that talks about the power and representation of women throughout history.

While feminism will always be a big topic around campus, members of the OU community in 2002 were trying to inspire students and hoped for a future that holds more equality around universities.