Our team members are busy getting some Women of Hopkins portraits ready for the Johns Hopkins High Table event. This is a first-year undergraduate experience in which the students join the deans and professors for a formal “Harry Potter” type dinner. Read about last year’s event here.
It’s cool. The Rec Center is transformed for an evening into a medieval-like banquet hall. Fancy gold plated dishes and flatware placed along long, stately tables are the settings for this sit down dinner. The walls are covered with formal curtains that give the feel of velvet drapes, and the faculty, deans and the JHU president march in all decked out in their academic robes. It doesn’t hurt that the president’s robe is a brilliant Hopkins gold. If you’ve ever been in any of the dining halls of Cambridge or Oxford, you’d have to agree that the organizers do a great job of capturing this ambiance.
I have been a participating professor at this dinner for several years. It has a super fun feel and comes at a good time when the semester is gaining full steam whilst the students are still somewhat rested. But one thing always bugged me about it. As a female faculty member marching in, I passed by numerous ornately framed portraits of (presumably) the luminaries of Hopkins past. Although I’m sure these past leaders were better than Moaning Myrtle, what struck me immediately is that there were no portraits of women. Only men.
Really? No women?
This realization was one of the motivators for our Women of Hopkins exhibit. And I’m pleased that our Diversity Innovation Grant funded not only the main art show but also enabled us to add women to the portraits that students and professors will pass by on the procession into this Hopkins Harry Potter banquet. After all, 49% of the undergraduate students at Hopkins are women. I’m hoping that these images will be noticed by the young women students. I’m hoping it will spark a recognition that female luminaries can lead the way. And I’m hoping that these heroines of Hopkins will inspire confidence in the students to become the next generation of scholars, doctors, business women, leaders, engineers, writers and scientists of prominence and brilliance.