By Aaron Marshall
A scholar, teacher, and leader whose academic expertise focuses on African American and American literature, Dr. Andreá Williams was recently appointed as the new director of The Women’s Place.
Since January 1, 2020, Williams had served as the interim director of the unit dedicated to bringing greater equity for women at The Ohio State University. Williams said her main goal is to guide The Women’s Place in helping to set the optimal conditions at the university that allow women to shine. “The goal of The Women’s Place is that women and people of every gender will be able to make their full contributions in a campus environment that is safe, equitable and rewarding,” she said.
Dr. James L. Moore III, the vice-provost for diversity and inclusion, said it was an easy decision to tap Williams for the permanent role. “I look forward to watching The Women’s Place continue to soar under Dr. Williams’ leadership,” he said.
Williams said she’s aiming to build the office’s reach and impact. “Throughout my time at the university, I have benefited from the networking and programs that The Women’s Place offers. Now as director, I look forward to helping to make The Women’s Place a greater resource for promoting equity at Ohio State.” The office plans to expand the Advocates and Allies Program, which promotes support among men for gender parity. “We need to address the structural impediments to women’s progress and people who do not identify as women can contribute collectively to that effort,” Williams said.
Williams’ vision for The Women’s Place also includes expanding leadership and professional development programs and carving out a greater proactive role for influencing policy against a backdrop of shifting norms. “Even as COVID-19 is creating a ‘new normal,’ we recognize that ‘norms’ of whatever sort are too often created as though they are gender-neutral when they actually have disproportionately limiting impacts on women and other minoritized groups,” she said.
Dr. Williams intends to bring some insights from her academic research into her advocacy for Ohio State women. She currently is writing a book that traces the lives and writing of unmarried African American women who helped to cultivate singleness as a viable long-term lifestyle in the 20th century. “Pursuing gender pay equity and financial well-being is part of ensuring women’s independence and success,” Williams adds.
Dr. Williams has been awarded grants and fellowships from Rutgers University, the National Humanities Center, and the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). At Ohio State, she is an associate professor in the Department of English and has served widely on college and university committees and as vice chair of the Department of English, winning awards for teaching and leadership on campus. She is an alumna of Spelman College, a historically Black women’s college in Atlanta, and earned her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.