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Women's and Gender Studies

January Highlights in U.S. Women’s History
from the National Women's History Project

  • January 25, 1980 – Mary Decker became the first woman to run a mile under 4 1/2 minutes, running it at 4:17.55
  • January 29, 1926 – Violette Neatly Anderson is the first black woman to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court  
  • January Birthdays 

    • January 13, 1850 (1911) – Charlotte Ray, first female African-American lawyer and first woman admitted to the bar in Washington D.C.
    • January 13, 1917 – Edna Hibel, artist and colorist, first woman to win the Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts
    • January 13, 1926 (1999) – Melba Liston, self-taught jazz trombonist, member of Dizzy Gillespie’s tour of the Middle East in 1956, recorded, taught, and performed in Women’s Jazz Festivals
    • January 14, 1900 (1987) – Marion Martin, elected to Maine House of Representatives, (1930-34), Maine Senate (1934-38), first woman to head Department of Labor and Industry (1947-62), worked for minimum living wage, industrial safety and child labor laws
    • January 15, 1892 (1968) – Jane Hoey, director of the Bureau of Public Assistance, Social Security Board (1936-53), helped states develop programs of assistance, especially mothers’ aid programs, bequeathed millions to Trinity College and Columbia University School of Social Work
    • January 15, 1898 (1995) – Irene Kuhn, journalist, scooped the world when a tidal wave hit Honolulu in 1923, worked on Thomas Dewey’s campaign, penned conservative nationally syndicated column for nearly 25 years
    • January 16, 1906 (1984) – Ethel Merman, actress, singer, performed “I Got Rhythm” in “Girl Crazy” in 1930, continued with “Annie Get Your Gun” in 1946 and “Gypsy” and “Hello Dolly “ in the 1970s
    • January 16, 1927 (1998) – Estela Trambley, teacher, writer, playwright, pioneer in Chicano literature, addressed challenges of life in the Southwest and explored the cultural demands of gender roles and marriage
    • January 16, 1932 (1985) – Dian Fossey, primatologist and naturalist who studied, lived amongst, and befriended the gorillas of Rwanda for 18 years, wrote Gorillas in the Mist (1983) emphasizing the need to protect them from the constant threat of poachers and neglect
    • January 16, 1933 (2004) – Susan Sontag, intellectual, critic, filmmaker, and writer, first influential essay “Notes on ‘Camp'” (1964), wrote On Photography, Against Interpretation, and recently released journals and diaries
    • January 17, 1910 (1987) – Edith Green, elected to Congress in 1954 and served 9 terms, worked on women’s rights, education, and equal pay
    • January 17, 1920 (1987) – Nora Kaye, ballerina, choreographer, and film producer, joined George Balanchine’s American Ballet (1936), collaborated on films with husband Herbert Ross including “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1969) and “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution” (1976), produced “The Turning Point” (1977) and “Pennies from Heaven” (1981)
    • January 17, 1922 – Betty White, veteran actress, her latter TV roles included “Mama’s Family,” “The Golden Girls,” and “Hot in Cleveland,” advocate of animal welfare                    
    • January 17, 1939 – Martha Cotera, pioneering Chicana feminist, author of Diosa y Hembra and Chicana Feminist, and founding member of the Raza Unida Party in Texas (1969)
    • January 19, 1905 (1995) – Oveta Culp Hobby, second women in the U.S. Cabinet (20 years after Frances Perkins), first Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1953), awarded the Distinguished Medal of Service for her work as Director of the Women’s Army Corps (1945)
    • January 19, 1905 (1996) – Anne Hummert, producer of popular radio soap operas “Just Plain Bill” (1933-55), “Ma Perkins,” and “Stella Dallas” (1937-55)
    • January 19, 1946 – Dolly Parton, singer and songwriter best known for country music, her most famous movie, “Nine to Five,” dealt with sexism in the workplace
    • January 21, 1905 (1996) – Agnes Mongan, published material on French artists despite restrictions on her movements because she was a woman, director at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum (1969-71)
    • January 22, 1877 (1981) – Rosa Ponselle, soprano, debuted with Enrico Caruso in 1918, sang with Baltimore Civic Opera after 1950, mentored Beverly Sill
    • January 23, 1902 (1999) – Lucile Leone, upgraded programs of the U.S. Nurse Corps, which grew to 180,000 by 1948, chief nurse officer of U.S. Public Health, Assistant Surgeon General (1949-66)
    • January 23, 1909 (1985) – Tatiana Proskouriakoff, artist for life possibilities, inspired by Mayan hieroglyphs on first visit in 1936, also traveled to Mexico and Guatemala
    • January 23, 1910 (1993) – Irene Sharaff, costume designer for 40 movies and 60 Broadway shows, created costumes for “An American in Paris” (1951) and “West Side Story” (1961), nominated for fifteen Academy Awards
    • January 23, 1918 (1999) – Gertrude Elion, biochemist, one of only 10 women to win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (1988)
    • January 23, 1921 (1994) – Merija Gimbutas, author, emigrated to Boston, began with Lithuanian beliefs and rituals, folklore, and ancient practices, wrote The Prehistory of Modern Europe (1956) and The Civilization of the Goddess (1994)
    • January 24, 1968 – Mary Lou Retton, first and only American woman to win a gold medal in the All-Around in gymnastics at the Olympics (1984) and first American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics, first woman featured on a Wheaties cereal box
    • January 25, 1896 (1987) – Helen Heffernan, supporter of bilingual education, recognized that children who were interned in World War II needed health and family services
    • January 26, 1872 (1957) – Julia Morgan, first licensed female architect in California, innovative architect of Hearst Castle and over 700 other buildings
    • January 26, 1892 (1926) – Bessie Coleman, first African-American woman in the world to fly a plane and earn an international pilot’s license
    • January 27, 1898 (1995) – Georgia Clark, first female U.S. Treasurer (1949-53), appointed by President Truman
    • January 27, 1937 (1997) – Nancy Dickerson, producer of “Face the Nation” (1960), first woman on NBC to go on assignment worldwide (1986-91)
    • January 27, 1941 (1981) – Beatrice Tinsley, astronomer, studied how light changes as stars age, found that young galaxies are brighter and bluer
    • January 28, 1913 (1988) – Hazel Garland, editor-in-chief of The Pittsburgh Courier (1974-77), a pioneer in communicating with people of diverse backgrounds
    • January 29, 1941 – Robin Morgan, poet, political theorist, activist, co-founder of the Women’s Media Center, author of 20 books, edited trailblazing anthology Sisterhood is Powerful in the 1970s.
    • January 30, 1890 – Angie Debo, spent lifetime examining historical implications of settlements of Native Americans Indians, wrote And Still the Waters Run in 1940 describing the “criminal conspiracy” that defrauded Oklahoma’s Five Civilized Tribes of their lands
    • January 30, 1912 (1989) – Barbara Tuchman, author, historian, awarded thePulitzer Prize in 1958 for The Guns of August and in 1971 for Stillwell and the American Experience in China
    • January 31, 1960 (1982) – Betty Parsons, gallery owner and artist, exhibited watercolors in 1935, created the Betty Parsons Gallery in 1946, showed the work of many avant garde expressionists

    From the National Women's History Project



    The Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Program is committed to and supports and promotes equality and equal access and opportunities for all, in all areas of society, including those that are political, social, cultural, economic, educational, personal, career and global.

    We recognize that education is the foundation of success and accept the responsibility to create challenging and encouraging intellectual environments in our classrooms.

    The WGS Program is also dedicated to encouraging students to claim their access and their right to equality and to providing opportunities that support such action and endeavors, both in and outside of the classroom.

    We empower students to recognize their ability to change their lives, and we reach out into the community and invite the community into our program in a rich exchange of events and discussions.

    Lastly, the WGS Program believes in working toward change that helps to make such equality and opportunity possible for all.

    We accept the responsibility for the work we do, hold it to a high standard, and we are ready to adapt to the diverse needs of our students as they change with the times. 


    The Women's and Gender Studies Program offers courses about women and gender for both women and men.

    The program is designed to explore the experiences and contributions of women to their cultures.

    Informed by feminist theory, Women's Studies courses:

    • challenge false assumptions and theories about women, race, and class
    • encourage rigorous critical thinking
    • raise issues of gender bias and the subjective nature of knowledge
    • support women's development as individuals and as participating members of their larger communities
    • expand women's and men's options beyond the limits of traditional gender roles.

    These writing-intensive courses help students consider the difference that gender makes in family relationships, friendships, education, and work. They are comfortable settings for delving into feminist scholarship and theory.

    In addition to the interdisciplinary introductory course on women's and gender studies, courses in the programinclude: women's history, literature, sociology, psychology, physical education, and women's health.

    Honors modules are available for some classes. Service learning and internship opportunities are frequently offered. Opportunities to pursue independent study projects are also available.



    Germantown Campus Coordinator

    Professor Joanne Bagshaw
    20200 Observation Dr.
    Germantown, MD 20876

    (240) 567-1977

    Collegewide and Rockville
    Collegewide Women's and Gender Studies Program Director

    Professor Genevieve Carminati
    51 Mannakee Street
    Rockville, MD 20850
    (240) 567-7446

    Om Rusten, Admin Aide, 240-567-4100

    Takoma Park/Silver Spring Coordinator

    Professor Bess Vincent

    7600 Takoma Avenue
    Takoma Park, MD 20912

    (240) 567-1397

    Nancy Nyland, Webmaster, (240) 567-7854

    W&GS Home page last updated January 12, 2016


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