Faculty Focus: Dr. Brenda Bethman – Director, Professor and Feminist


March is Women’s History Month, but UMKC Women’s Center Director Dr. Brenda Bethman says the United States should recognize women every day of the year.

In addition to being the director of the Women’s Center on campus, a position she has held for nearly 15 years, Bethman is also an associate professor in the Department of Race, Ethnic, and Gender Studies (REGS).

As an outspoken feminist, Bethman’s tenet is never to be bossy in the classroom or at work.

“What I’m trying to do both in working at the Women’s Center with staff and students, but also in teaching, is to model more open feminist power-sharing,” Bethman said. “Although I’m also glad to hear myself speak.”

Bethman’s passion for women’s equity dates back to her childhood – and instead of outgrowing that passion, she turned it into a career.

“My mom says I came out of the womb as a feminist,” Bethman said. “When I was a kid, I was considered a tomboy. I was often told that I shouldn’t do certain things because I was a girl, and that would drive me really crazy.

Of all she has accomplished in her career, Bethman is most proud of the two books she has written, her study abroad programs in Germany and Senegal, and the programming she developed at the UMKC Women’s Center.

More recently, she has been busy in the REGS department, which is in the process of combining its three minors into one: Race, Ethnic and Gender Studies. The minor will be available to students next fall.

“Any student can take it, and it adds a perspective on diversity and inclusion that I think is essential for anyone embarking on a career,” Bethman said.

In addition to the big changes in the REGS department, the Women’s Center is also particularly busy during the month of March. As someone who has devoted much of her life to the subject, Bethman said she is frustrated that the United States often limits interest in women’s rights to a single day or month.

“It should be a topic for the whole year, not just part of it,” Bethman said.

However, Bethman said she always recognizes that Women’s History Month brings needed awareness to the accomplishments of women throughout history. Students can observe the holidays by learning more about women’s history and supporting female voices on campus.

“Come to our events and follow the Women’s Center on social media,” Bethman said.

The UMKC Women’s Center is located at 105 Haag Hall and is open to visitors throughout the week. They are also active on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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