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Patricia Sloane-White, who chairs UD's Department of Women and
Gender Studies, has been honored for her commitment to advancing women's
equity on campus.
Patricia Sloane-White, chair of the Department of Women and Gender
Studies, has been honored by the University of Delaware Women’s Caucus
with its 2021 Torch Award for her commitment to advancing women’s
equality on campus.
“I have set my goals as chair to draw attention to changes in our
discipline, as those who came before me did, to ensure that our
programs, teaching, and initiatives are seen more broadly in the
University community,” said Sloane-White, “and to communicate more fully
what our discipline is about: that we don't merely study ‘women’ but we
study all forms of power that create disadvantages and inequities, and
advocate for change and recognition for all people, identities and
bodies experiencing marginalization and oppression.”
Sloane-White’s work started on Wall Street, but after she trained as
an anthropologist, she made her way to the University of Delaware,
eventually being elected chair of her department. She worked in her
chair position to ensure her department was properly recognized and
invigorated. She created a minor in Women and Religion and changed
departmental protocols to ensure all voices were participating in
activities such as faculty meetings.
In response to the challenges of the modern day, she organized “What
Happens Now?” events and “the Diversity Research Cafe,” both spaces
where conversations could be had about how women, diversity and social
justice could be explored by the UD community.
"During her time as chair, the percentage of women in the department
holding the rank of full professor doubled,” said Angela Hattery,
Sloane-White’s colleague and professor in the department. “Several of
the faculty in the Department of Women and Gender Studies are parents,
and Prof. Sloane-White has identified and implemented creative
strategies for extending parental leave. As the pandemic hit, and all
staff and faculty suddenly had to go online and work remotely, she was
vigilant and conscientious about supporting the needs of everyone."
Sloane-White also has expanded the role of her department in
providing early college credit courses for high school students within
Delaware and teacher’s workshops within the state, creating further
exploration of women’s studies throughout the area. She says she hopes
this work has an eventual impact on state agencies, organizations and
When asked what message Sloane-White would share with the University,
she replied: “I have met students at UD who are reluctant to call
themselves ‘feminists.’ I would ask them to own that term; to think
about how the feminist bell hooks said that contemporary feminism
requires advocacy for overlooked voices. To be a feminist asks us to
recognize the enormous privilege and power we have as members of a
university community and to use our voices to seek change for those who
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The Torch Award, presented annually, recognizes an individual who has
“carried the torch for women’s equality” at the University. The torch
recalls the lighting of a torch for the 1977 National Women’s
Conference, symbolically charting a course between the first Women’s
Rights Convention of 1848 and the modern movement for women’s
liberation. It was selected by the Women’s Caucus to represent the past
and present efforts to achieve equality and improve the quality of
employment for women at UD.
While traditionally a public award ceremony is held in honor of the
recipient, due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a celebration
will take place at a later date.
Article by Jennifer Biddle, photo by Evan KrapePublished October 7, 2021