Hiram College

During the fall 2014 3-week session, the Professional and Graduate Studies department held their Gender and Creativity Course, focusing on the remarkable tale and role of women in leadership.

Taught by Professor Damaris Peters Pike, the Gender and Creativity course was designed with the goal of discovering women who have made a difference in our Western Heritage, from the time of the Ancient Greeks to the present. An important aspect of the course was the discovery of elements which have enabled a tiny percentage of women in history to emerge from the pack – political, religious, economic, sociological, and many other elements have contributed.

“The Gender and Creativity class is special, I think,” said Pike. “The subject is important, and the guest speakers are outstanding. One neat aspect is that on our last afternoon together, each student shares his/her research. This means that in addition to the woman on whom each student does research, they learn about 15-20 additional important women.”

During the 3-week course, students met women who have succeeded in non-traditional roles, who visited class to discuss the elements in their success. The guests did not lecture; rather, they joined the students in a circle, told their stories, and responded to student questions.

“The course also makes a special point to highlight women of our day who are a continuing example of positive leadership, and what better way to do this than to meet exceptional women,” said Pike.

Last semester, students met and heard from the following women:

Dr. Lori Varlotta, the first female President of Hiram College, a graduate of Notre Dame with a Master’s Degree from Syracuse University, a Doctorate from Miami University and a sterling record in higher education.

Dr. Ellie Beach, PhD in Old Testament Studies, who will not only share her story, but provide information about women in the Old Testament, an important and surprising part of our heritage.

Dr. Jeanette Grasselli Brown, was named outstanding woman chemist in the United States by the American Chemical Society and was the first woman inducted into the Ohio Science and Technology Hall of Fame. Dr. Brown spent 38 years in industrial research as Director of Corporate Research for BP America (formerly The Standard Oil Company).  She holds 13 honorary doctorates, has 1 patent, 80 publications and 9 books in the field of infrared and Raman spectroscopy.

“I try to have a woman in a non-traditional role come to visit with the students each Saturday,” said Pike. “Last December we had Ellie Beach, who has a PhD in Old Testament Studies, explain the creation story in Genesis by translating from the original Hebrew. Her version did not make women so secondary!”

The conversation didn’t end with class – after the discussions, students typically joined class visitors in the College Dining Hall or the Bistro to learn more from these exceptional women.