Women’s studies founders honored

by Will Fritz, Senior Staff Writer

The San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame will honor Joyce Nower and Carol Rowell Council, who helped start SDSU’s women’s studies department, in an event on March 5.

The women’s studies department is a co-host of the Women’s Hall of Fame in San Diego, along with the Women’s Museum of California, San Diego County Commission on the Status of Women and  UC San Diego Women’s Center.

The women’s studies department at SDSU was founded in 1970 and is the oldest such department in the United States.

Sophomore women’s studies major Jadielis Muñoz said although she had not previously done much research into how the department was started, it was great to see Nower and Council recognized this way.

“I think it’s really cool how they are able to be honored and acknowledged for that especially since I already thought it was really cool that the women’s studies department was the first one in the nation, here at San Diego State,” she said.

According to Women’s Studies Professor Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Nower was a professor teaching courses related to women’s studies at the time of the department’s founding, while Council was a student who helped raise feminist consciousness around campus.

They were both instrumental in founding the department, Ahmed-Ghosh said, although she said credit also belongs to a larger group of people.

“It was a collective group that started the department,” she said. “I don’t think credit goes to individuals.”

Still, she said, the two deserve the honor being given to them.

“So the thing is that for five years before, there was stuff going on and these two, one student and one professor, definitely were instrumental,” Ahmed-Ghosh said.

The San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame honors women who “significantly contributed to the quality of life and who have made outstanding volunteer contributions in San Diego County,” according to its webpage.

Nominations, which are due Nov. 30 of each year, can be made on the webpage, and are reviewed by a committee of representatives from each of the four co-host organizations.

There are five categories for hall of fame nominees: trailblazer, empowerer, activist, cultural competent and historian. Nower and Council were nominated under the empowerer category.

Four other women will also be honored alongside Nower and Council.

Women’s studies department chair Doreen Mattingly, who participated in the Women’s March on Washington, said Nower and Council’s recognition is especially important and historic at a time when she believes women’s studies are extremely relevant.

“I’m proud to see this history being honored and both of them, they’ve made a lot of contributions to the campus, to our department, and to women’s rights,” Mattingly said. “San Diego State has a dynamic and exciting program, so it’s a good time for people to be thinking about us and what we still have to offer.”