Woman's Place Project
Studying Women of Impact
The Woman’s Place Project was originally inspired by the work of artist Judy Chicago. Chicago’s iconic 1970’s feminist project, The Dinner Party, comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The project was adapted for Notre Dame’s freshman religious studies classes in the 1994-95 school year as a powerful message of women’s contributions.
Over the years, the project has evolved into what it is today, an interdisciplinary study of the strength and contributions of women across time, culture and industry. Involving the religious studies, fine arts, history and English curricula, today’s project draws on the student’s research, writing and public speaking skills. The finished project is composed of a place setting and a written toast celebrating a woman’s life and accomplishments. Students also honor the women in their own lives who have played a role as their personal hero with recognition on the “Butterfly Wall of Honor,” paying tribute to the strong and inspirational women of our own community.
We encourage our students to find a hero among the women represented by the place settings, a personal role model who has, in many cases, overcome obstacles and shattered preconceptions to become a woman of impact. As a result of this exploration, students often find the seeds of ideas that will become their future Senior Service Learning Projects and their own path to becoming women of impact.
Honoring Women of Impact
The plate, flatware, cloth napkin, cup, place card and placemat selected by the student are intended to reflect the spirit of the woman of honor.
Each place setting includes symbols, flowers and a candle to represent the life and accomplishments of the honoree. A framed photo and meaningful quote are integrated as well.
Students learn about the art of writing and giving a toast. The text of the toast provides insight into the student’s understanding of her honoree and an opportunity for her to practice public speaking, an important life skill.
Rite of Passage
Each student begins her journey at Notre Dame with the Woman’s Place Project. Later in the week, our seniors will present at the Young Women’s Advocacy Summit. These events bookend each student’s study of women’s leadership and commitment to becoming a woman of impact.