Each month we’ll feature a Q&A with one of the commissioners of the Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. June’s feature: Cathy Ferree
Q: As President and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, why is it important for the state to mark the centennial anniversary of women’s suffrage?
A: The centennial anniversary is important because this topic is still relevant to things that are happening today. The anniversary isn’t just about women but can be used as an opportunity to look at the rights for many groups of people. Women gaining the right to vote shows that persevering and working together can truly make a difference, and that it’s important to never give up.
The anniversary also reminds us of the importance of having multiple perspectives at the table for any conversation. Our country and society would look completely different had women never gotten the opportunity to voice their opinions through voting. Today, it’s important to remember that lesson, and to actively seek out different perspectives and give them a voice in any conversation.
Q: How would you encourage Hoosiers from all walks of life to promote and celebrate this important milestone in your state and nation’s history?
A: Most importantly, Hoosiers should celebrate by voting themselves. It’s an election year, and it’s critical that women and men continue to utilize voting as a platform to be heard. Many people before us worked hard to get us the right to vote, and we need to honor that hard work by continuing to vote.
Another thing Hoosiers should do to celebrate is to help others vote. At the Indiana State Museum, we’re doing our part by setting up voter registration opportunities at our museum. Everyone who is able to vote should vote – and we are proud to be able to help accomplish that goal.
Q: Who is a woman who has inspired you in your life and/or career?
A: Many different people have inspired and guided me in my career. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I believe it takes an entire institution to develop a staff member into their full potential. So much of my own personal development came from coworkers at institutions, including outside of my department.
At all institutions, we need to encourage mentorship across department lines – and employees also need to be open to hearing it. With suffrage, it took a group of women coming together – and a vote from men – to earn the right to vote. Similarly, we must work together to reach our own professional and institutional goals and seek out mentorship from those we admire in our fields.
Q: How do you think we can further encourage Hoosiers to exercise their right to vote?
A: We have to make voting as accessible as possible. It’s important that we make sure people understand the importance and impact of voting. It’s easy to feel it doesn’t matter when you’re just one vote among millions, but every vote is counted equally. As a museum, it’s our job to help people understand the world and topics of today so they can make informed decisions. We don’t tell them what to think, but we help them to make more informed decisions through providing information from a variety of sources. Voters should be given opportunities to seek out information about the candidates and their views, in addition to access to easy, convenient voter registration.