Women’s History Month

Julia Fabrizio, Features Editor

Every March marks Women’s History Month, and several events are hosted on campus to celebrate the contributions women have made to history. This year, Women’s History Month lines up with Iona’s 50 Years of Women celebration at the college. In fall of 1969, Iona transitioned from a men’s college to a coed institution when it welcomed a freshman class that included 200 women. These women accounted for about one quarter of the freshman class. These early classes of women shattered the glass ceiling for women who later enrolled at Iona.

Peggy Norton Sullivan ’75 was in the third class of women at Iona and a founding member of the women’s basketball team. Originally, there was no money assigned to the team for uniforms.

“Our uniforms were cut off jeans…and maroon t-shirts that were this bright yellow with maroon letters saying ‘Iona,’” Sullivan said. “Look at the program now: there’s scholarships given, they do well, they pull from different areas. It’s terrific.”

The women’s basketball program has grown impressively and the team took home the 2016 MAAC championship.

The women’s sports program reaches far beyond basketball. Iona is now home to nine non-club women’s sports. Eleri Earnshaw ‘07 is a former member of the women’s soccer team and has previously played for the Welsh national team as well as the Arsenal Ladies, an English professional soccer club. But notable female alumna stretch beyond the field and a number have found themselves in the boardroom.

Catherine R. Kinney is an Iona alumna and she is the former president of the New York Stock Exchange. Kinney held the position from 2002 until 2008.

Iona also boasts notable female alumni in the arts. Eileen A. Ivers ’87 is a Grammy Award-winning Irish Fiddle player. Alumna Terry Finn also stepped into the spotlight as she originated the role of Gussie Carnegie in the Broadway cast of Sondheim’s musical “Merrily We Roll Along.”

These women all played a part in setting the stage for today’s women at Iona. The last three Student Government Association presidents have been women— senior Hannah McGowan, Erin Kutch ’18 and Kayla Kosack ’17. The executive boards of both The Ionian and Iona College Television are mostly women. 50 years ago, women made up just one quarter of the freshman class. Now, the college is split almost evenly, with 47% of the student population consisting of women, according to the Iona College website.

This year’s theme for Women’s History Month is “Valiant Women of the Vote,” the theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others,” according to Women’sHistory.org. This month will honor women like Ida B. Wells and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, both early suffragettes in the United States. This year will also mark one hundred years since the 19th Amendment was ratified.

Junior Naomi Getachew is celebrating strong women that inspire her every day.

“Celebrate the moms and the female CEOs and the nannies and the Ph.D. holding women and the women who are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet,” Getachew said. “You don’t have to be an Oprah or a Gloria Steinem to be celebrated. Celebrate all women, and celebrate them every day.”

While it’s important to reflect on those that paved the way for us both in Iona and outside of it, women’s history month should also recognize the unsung and everyday heroes. The women who continue to push for intersectional equality, and who thrive even in the face of adversity.