Talk addresses role of women in education

Artist, professor and writer Theresa McCormick held a discussion on efforts for peace and progress for women educators with a group of students Wednesday during college hour in Wilber Hall.

McCormick began her discussion with a brief overview of the history of women’s rights and the struggles and successes that affect women today.

"Often history books don’t tell us about it… there are many non-governmental organizations that focus on peace and peace education," McCormick said.

McCormick spoke about the pattern of inequality female educators face, which, she said, began in the 1800s when the demand for teachers increased and young women could be paid low wages.

She specifically spoke of "Women Peace Educators," an organization headed by Betty Reardon, and its three principles: planetary stewardship, global citizenship and positive human relations. These are "most helpful" for teachers, she said.

She went on to discuss how important it is for students to have role models, which could be teachers. McCormick reminisced about her third grade principal and how greatly influenced she was by a woman who held a leadership role.

Remaining hopeful, McCormick gave advice to her audience of mostly education majors.

"You may think you don’ t make a difference but you can and you do," McCormick said.

McCormick closed her discussion with the story of Ida B. Wells’ 1884 conflict with a train conductor after he discriminated against her racially.

"[She was] an amazing woman," she said.

McCormick began her career in education by teaching art for K-12 in West Virginia. She went on to get her B.A. in art education, her Master’ s degree in art and a doctorate in education. She taught as a professor of education in multicultural and gender studies at Iowa State University for twenty years. She has also written two books on gender and multicultural equality in the classroom.