Every year for Women’s HERstory Month the Gender Studies Program and Office of Multicultural Programs at Missouri State University celebrate students, staff, and faculty who are nominated for their “encouragement, mentoring, and support provided to other women and femme identified individuals” and for their “commitment to positively influencing the lives of others” through “innovation and/or leadership.” Due to the emerging pandemic last March, both the 2020 and 2021 Womxn of Distinction Awards were announced this past month and awards were handed out to staff and faculty recipients at a small, masked ceremony on March 24, 2021. At the ceremony, two Missouri State Department of History faculty were celebrated for their contributions: the 2020 Faculty Womxn of Distinction Award was conferred to Dr. Julia Troche, and the 2021 Faculty Womxn of Distinction Award was given to Dr. Sarah Mellors.
The selection committee highlighted Dr. Troche’s commitment to equity in the classroom and in advising and noted that topics relating to gender, broadly defined, can be found not only in her own research but in her students’ research as well. Dr. Troche’s research on digital pedagogy, for example, critically examines how digital pedagogy and digital tools can be biased in ways that can unintentionally disadvantage women and communities of color. In her ancient Egyptian history class, Dr. Troche’s students consider paradigms of masculinity, femininity, and power in antiquity and debate the applicability of modern constructions of gender and sex in the ancient context.
Dr. Mellors was lauded for her leadership and inspiration in the classroom, as well as for her important and novel research on women’s health, particularly issues surrounding birth control and abortions, in modern China. Uniquely, Dr. Mellors’ research gives voice and agency to Chinese women in a scholarly field that otherwise often focuses on governmental reproductive policies.
Dr. Julia Troche teaches a wide range of world history and ancient history classes, including ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern history, and Dr. Sarah Mellors can be found in the modern world history survey classroom and teaching classes on East Asian history and on the histories of medicine.