March is Women’s History Month, but UMKC Women’s Center Director Dr. Brenda Bethman says the U.S. should recognize women every day of the year.
Along with being the director of the Women’s Center on campus, a position she’s held for nearly 15 years, Bethman is also an associate teaching professor in the Department of Race, Ethnic, and Gender Studies (REGS).
As an outspoken feminist, Bethman’s principle is to never be authoritarian in the classroom or workplace.
“What I try to do in both working in the Women’s Center with staff and students but also in teaching is model a more open feminist power-sharing,” Bethman said. “Although I am also happy to hear myself talk.”
Bethman’s passion for women’s equity goes back to her childhood — and instead of outgrowing that passion, she made a career out of it.
“My mom says I came out of the womb a feminist,” Bethman said. “When I was a kid, I was considered a tomboy. I was often told I shouldn’t be doing things because I was a girl, and that would make me really mad.”
Out of everything she has achieved in her career, Bethman is most proud of the two books she’s written, her past study abroad programs to Germany and Senegal, and the programming she has developed at UMKC’s Women’s Center.
Most recently, she has been busy within the REGS department, which is in the process of combining its three minors into one: Race, Ethnic, and Gender Studies. The minor will be available for students next fall.
“Any student can take it, and it adds to a perspective on diversity and inclusion that I think is essential for anyone going into any career to have,” Bethman said.
In addition to the big changes in the REGS department, the Women’s Center is also especially busy during the month of March. As someone who’s devoted much of her life to the subject, Bethman said she is frustrated that the U.S. often limits interest in women’s rights to a single day or month.
“It should be a topic for all year round, not just part of it,” Bethman said.
However, Bethman said she still recognizes that Women’s History Month brings a necessary awareness to the achievements of women throughout history. Students can observe the holiday by learning more about women’s history and supporting female voices on campus.
“Come to our events and follow the Women’s Center on social media,” Bethman said.