Seeing clearly

Dr. Lisa Ford-Brown and Dr. Gretchen Hendrickson

Women's History Month

It was dinnertime in Dulany Hall, the college’s dining facility, but Dr. Gretchen Hendrickson, assistant professor of psychology, wasn’t eating. In fact, she was grimacing and muttering.

Her fellow instructor was getting closer and closer. Hendrickson shut her eyes, and —


A long braid of Hendrickson’s hair was gone.

Then another, and another — a few of the cutters, some students there for dinner, seemed to have been having a little too much fun, judging by the wide grins — until Hendrickson’s head looked like a hedgehog.

“Here’s your chance to get close to a professor with scissors!” said Dr. Tonia Compton, assistant professor of history, event MC and one of the organizers of Women’s History Month, celebrated on campus and nationwide in March. Hendrickson’s shearing, which benefitted the Central Missouri Food Bank and Locks of Love, a nonprofit that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children suffering from medical hair loss, kicked off the month.

Technically, it occurred Feb. 29, leap day, but Compton said she claimed the extra day for Women’s History Month.

The theme of Women's History Month 2012 is “Forward. Movement.” — a theme that resonates at Columbia College, Compton said, because it has been educating forward-thinking women since 1851. Education is true forward movement for women, Compton said, a chance to change not only their but the entire world.

Here are some other events associated with Women's History Month at Columbia College:

  • “Ethical Challenges for Women in Modern Sports,” Christine Brennan, March 7, 7:30 p.m., Launer Auditorium, on the Columbia College main campus. Brennan is the 2012 Althea W. and John A. Schiffman Ethics in Society lecturer, a series that each year draws noted scholars and personalities to the college. USA Today columnist Brenann is the most widely-read female sports columnist in the nation, recognized for breaking barriers for women in journalism. Among her books are the best-seller “Inside Edge” recognized by Sports Illustrated as one of the top 100 sports books of all time and “Best Seat in the House: A Father, A Daughter, A Journey Through Sports.”
  • Women’s Leadership Conference, March 10, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., 204 S. Ninth St., Columbia, Mo. Co-sponsored by Columbia College, Stephens College and the University of Missouri.
  • “Women: Balancing the Weight of Change,” Lateefah Simon, Women’s History Month keynote address, March 12, 7:30 p.m., Launer Auditorium. Simon, a nationally recognized advocate for juvenile and criminal justice reform, is the youngest recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. She is director of justice for California's Women and Children Campaign at the Rosenberg Foundation, focusing on poverty, reproductive and immigrant rights and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues.
The college also will hold a trivia contest (sample: Who is the first female recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize?), brown bag luncheons for faculty, students and staff, alumni events and movies on the women’s suffrage movement.

Focused research permeates the college year-round, however.

Sociology professors Drs. Yngve Digernes and Ahoo Tabatabai will take a group of students to the annual meetings of the Midwest Sociological Society in Minneapolis, Minn., during spring break to present original research on such issues as the portrayal of female athletes in mass media, how pregnancy is dealt with in “Star Trek,” sexism and homophobia in hip-hop lyrics and gender roles and violence in pornography. Tabatabai will speak on motherhood among military wives, and Digernes on colorism in Mexico.

Meanwhile, one of the last locks covering Hendrickson’s face is snipped away.

“Ah!” she sighs. “Much better. Now I can see.”

Which is maybe not such a good idea. What she sees is a pair of clippers coming to reduce her head to stubble.


Philip Myers said...

How about speaking on the treatment of women in Afghanistan and other Muslim countries?