Manoff Strives to Convey Women's Issues

More than half of all the people on Earth are female.

Though it is sometimes easy to forget, women have come a long way in their struggles for equal rights, political power and acceptance.

Though much more needs to be done, a lot has been accomplished, and thanks to the Women's Movement, many women have a voice, through education.

Ricky Manoff, who teaches Western Civilization, Women in American Culture, and Introduction to Women's Studies, has been at SMC since 1997.

She also teaches at Cal State Northridge, where she has been teaching for a decade.

She attended UCLA and earned her Ph.D. in modern European history.

Teaching women's studies and history has been her passion ever since she began teaching, and she uses the classroom as a catalyst to spark change in the world.

She says that history and women's studies go hand in hand.

"History is inherently political. Politics are a part of everything. Feminism is political," she said.

She mentions that the reason she loves and teaches history is because it is empowering, and the key to understanding "why we're here."

It is her goal to give students the necessary analytical skills and open minds to become well-rounded members of society.

Manoff thinks that most people have been taught poorly, and most teachers tell their students what to think, and fail to integrate other subjects into their curriculum.

This is why she emphasizes teaching history intertwined with women's studies.

"The Women's Movement is one of the most profound transformations in human history. It touches every aspect of our lives," she said.

"History is an ongoing process - it's always happening. In my class, I transform history to include women," she said.

In her women's studies classes, Manoff stresses major contemporary issues and challenges facing the Women's Movement, including the lower pay and living wages of women, the struggles between the family and the work place, and the lack of health care and child care for today's working women.

"The lack of health care in this country and childcare is just absurd," she said.

Manoff also points out that though she teaches a women's studies course, these issues affect men as well.

Topics covered in her women's studies class include: The history of the Women's Movement and feminism, sexuality and the woman's work place.

She also says they also go into different disciplines such as biology, anthropology, history and philosophy, and relate them to women's struggles.

"We look into different kinds of feminism, and examine history to find images of women that present a realistic portrayal," she said.

"I encourage students to think on their own, but act collectively. They have to be able to pick up on what's important," she said.