Professor Dianne Bevelander's inaugural speech: The 8th summit women's ascent of organisations
Speaking as Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë stated as long ago as 1846 that “women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, to absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer …” and that “… it is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.” Less than a year later in 1847, these views resulted in an attack on the character of Jane as the “personification of an unregenerate and undisciplined spirit” by Elizabeth Rigby in the leading literary and political periodical of the time – The Quarterly Review.
I mention this as a preface to my inaugural address because the opinions raised by Jane Eyre are as relevant today as they were almost 170 years ago, and because the criticism of her character came from none other than another woman. Gender bias is as much a female issue as it is a male issue. Changing the gender paradigm will require extreme effort, commitment, and on-going attention from both men and women.
Read full inaugural speech here
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