At the first meeting of the MIT Women's Collective, a new organization open to women of all races, religions, nationalities, sexual orientations and political persuasions, Professor Margery Resnick discussed the historical significance of Katherine Dexter McCormick, for whom the first women's dorm is named.
About 25 people, both men and women, attended the meeting on September 24, at which Professor Resnick of foreign languages and literatures gave her presentation on Ms. McCormick, a 1904 graduate of MIT who later donated the money to build McCormick Hall.
"Katherine Dexter McCormick understood how collaborative, collective action can be used even by autonomous people who maintain their own agendas outside the collectivity. She was an activist, yet never lost her own voice and style even as she worked with other women on national and international concerns," said Professor Resnick.
The Women's Collective was organized by seven undergraduate women who envision it as "a powerful arena for women's voices on campus," said Amalia Miller, a junior in economics and one of the founding members. They hope to create more awareness among the MIT community of social and political issues that affect women, and to provide a supportive community "for critical thought and open discussion on topics concerning women and gender," she said.
"Part of the problem for women at MIT is that gender becomes invisible. For instance, violence against women is a problem here, but it's not something that people talk about," said Ms. Miller.
The collective was formed when several women independently began seeking other women with a similar interest in organizing a women's group. The founders anticipate that the collective's agenda will be shaped by the interests of the aggregate, but initial plans call for workshops, community service activities and movie nights.
The Clothesline Project, the collective's inaugural campus event, consisted of a Lobby 7 display on September 23-24 of T-shirts on which messages had been written by victims of domestic violence. The shirts on display were borrowed from the Boston branch of the National Organization of Women's Clothesline Project.
Other members of the founding group are Patricia Cheng, a senior in mathematics; Michelle Evans, a junior in chemical engineering; Nancy Hsiung, a junior in management; Irene Kim, a junior in biology; Pallavi Nuka, a senior in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences; and Sarah Veatch, a senior in physics.
For more information on the collective, send e-mail to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 1, 1997.