BC celebrates Women’s History Month

Sharida Rejon, Features Editor

Women-1-SRThe annual Women’s History and More Month at Bakersfield College has kicked off, and they have a series of events planned to honor the historical accomplishments of women.
One of these events was Women in a World of Men: Legendary Leaders at BC, which took place on March 10. During this event, panelists Marci Lingo, a reference librarian at Bakersfield College, and Jerry Ludeke, director of the Bakersfield College archives, gave a presentation about some of the important women in BC history, their journey, and their contributions during a time when the majority of the staff was male.
Ludeke gave an overview about one of the most influential women in the history of Bakersfield College, Grace Van Dyke Bird. According to an interview in 1978 with William Leaser, who was president of the American Association of Junior Colleges at the time, Bird was “positive and upbeat.”
Ludeke quoted Leaser regarding Bird: “She was one of the first to teach me that the institutions we worked with were not junior to anything. They were institutions of worth in their own right.
“Grace Bird was one of the wise foundation builders. She not only influenced an educational movement, but she touched the lives of many who later had privileges of leadership. I am one of those, and I’m grateful.”
Lingo, the second panelist, spoke about Margaret “Peg” Levinson, who according to her, was affectionately known as “dean of everything” because she was always present when she was needed.
She mentioned that Levinson played several roles at BC, such as being the adviser of numerous clubs on campus, including many that were associated with women, heading the scholarship committee, and perhaps the most important of all, playing a key role in the administrative and management areas.
“In today’s management styles and administrative styles, it seems to me that when we think of managers, we think of talk-down, kind of giving orders, and taking command kind of people,” said Lingo. “That’s not the way Margaret Levinston administered; it’s not the way she managed. She cooperated, she was diplomatic, and she listened. She sought a cooperative kind of solution to things.”
Lingo believes that these women paved the way to a better form of management. “I think that’s something that this event is about, and what these legendary women are about. I know I’m generalizing, but I think that although it’s not thought of, women often bring the idea of consensus and consensus building that sometimes men, because they think they need to be in charge, don’t bring,” she said. “I think Margaret Levinson, as well as Grace Bird, epitomized this consensus style of management.”
Lingo also informed attendees about Levinson’s legacy at BC. She quoted John Collins, who became president of Bakersfield College after Levinson ended her career and who considered Levinson his mentor: “I worked under Margaret’s wing and she was my faithful supporter. Although she never became president, she trained generations of presidents. That’s important to remember.”
In addition to speaking about Levinson, Lingo talked about Shirley Tremble, a mathematics professor who played a great role in the shaping of Bakersfield College. According to Lingo, Levinson was an extraordinary teacher and her commitment to students was unparallel. “She understood and knew the obstacles that students face in the San Joaquin Valley, so she counseled them and really helped them face those obstacles, whether they were in math or whether they were financial or anything, Shirley was there to help,” she said.
Lingo explained that it is important for Bakersfield College students and the community to learn about these women’s journeys because they are often taken for granted. “These women paved they way for other women, and yet they also made some sacrifices in order to have the kind of careers they had,” Lingo said. “Although these women were highly admired, there are elements of their careers that show that they are undervalued.
In spite of that, they were highly effective, highly intelligent, and really admirable women who really did change Bakersfield College and made it what it is today,” she said.