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. Sister Maureen Hilliard, SND, first viewed the exhibit in San Francisco. Moved by the powerful message of women’s contribution, Sister Maureen adapted the project for her freshman religious studies class in 1994.
Over the years, the project has evolved into what it is today, an interdisciplinary study of the strength and contribution of women across time, culture and industry. Involving religious studies, fine arts, history and English curriculums, today’s project draws on the student’s research and public speaking skills. The finished project is composed of several components including the place setting and a toast celebrating the 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 “Butterly Wall of Honor,” paying tribute to the strong and inspirational women of our own community.
We encourage our students to find another hero among the women represented by the place settings, a personal role model that 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 path to becoming women of impact.