In celebration of Women’s History Month, Jessica Simmons, an intern in the Office of Marketing and Communications, interviewed Barton’s female faculty, staff, and students to share their challenges and insights about their roles as women. HERStory features individual women and shares their personal stories of their proudest moments being women.
About Yvette Richardson
Yvette M. Richardson earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Shaw University and her Master of Social Work degree from East Carolina University. She holds a Clinical Social Work and School Social Worker license. Prior to joining Barton, she worked as a school social worker for several years in Halifax and Nash counties. Richardson also offers community-based mental health assistance in Nash and Edgecombe counties. She has served as a part-time adjunct instructor at Barton College and East Carolina University for several years. Her passion and main areas of research are child trauma; resiliency; community crisis response and mental health; school social work; and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
What makes you unique?
“I like simple things. I like to think I’m non-judgmental and I have creativity. It’s my creativity that sees what can be done; sees about ways in which people can come together to help each other do things differently beyond what our system in society has already defined. Respecting other people. I invite women to come into my space. Sometimes women can look at each other differently because each woman is powerful and unique. That is empowering. We need spaces for each other.”
What makes you feel proud to be a woman?
“I feel proud as a woman in that I’m able to carry life and give life. That’s powerful. Women are more nurturing. I can nurture people, whether or not they’re my biological children. Nurturing is an innate characteristic that I have that allows me to help, support, feed other than myself. I’m proud of that as a woman. I have a voice and a perspective that men don’t have.”
What are the moments you celebrate as a woman?
“As a woman, I celebrate being a mother, a grandmother, a sister; and all of those roles. I can’t separate myself from those spaces. Being able to be independent and take care of myself because God’s taking care of me. I also celebrate finding my voice. I’m not afraid of things that people don’t like to talk about. Faced with fear, I found the courage to push past the fear to go after something I’ve never done. If I allowed the fear to dictate my actions, there would be things not done. Things like buying a motorcycle. At some point in my life, making the move from New York to North Carolina and all the apprehension behind it. I had to push past those fears, such as making different career moves.”
What are the different roles you have as a woman?
“All the roles are synthesized together because of whom I see myself to be. My role as a mother. With my role as an assistant professor, what comes with that is being a teacher and content expert. One thing I tell my students is that I am not here to just be your professor. I invite you to be a thought partner with your peers so that we can learn from each other. I’m also a role model and a mentor to respect others’ opinions and thoughts. I’m also an advisor and a counselor for advice outside of the classroom.”
What are some defining moments you’ve had as a woman?
“When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I was the second woman and person in my immediate family to receive an educational degree. It was an achievement for me because I was an adult learner and it took me some time to finish that journey while being a full-time worker, mother, and wife. I wore all of these hats, and yet I did it, and I did it at the top of my class.”
What does HERstory mean to you?
“I think it’s important for us to understand women and the stories we have. Understand the common joys, challenges, and struggles. I can be challenged by an opportunity to grow in some areas. I think history also provides other women that understanding; of the capabilities, the potential that we have as women. Society doesn’t dictate what we do or where we go. We have the freedom to do things the way they work for us. The ability to show up in the skin, hair that feels good to us. I think that when we hear collective stories about women, it is some type of empowerment, learning, and connection that gives us power and inspiration.”
Share a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you.
“Moments with my friends just to talk and share our empowering moments. I think we must consider that the spaces we have and create for ourselves are also empowering, and it shows progress.”
What would you change about the assumptions made by men of women?
“I would change the assumption that we’re limited in our ability to think and do. Those gender roles say I shouldn’t be working. When we look and see the gender roles in other countries where women don’t have the same rights, we do and see how blessed we are that we have the opportunities. The idea is that a man’s work is better than my work, so if anybody’s going to make a sacrifice around a work schedule, it’s going to be because I’m a mom, and that’s what moms do. The assumption is that women are more emotional because men are emotional too. They just display it in different ways. The lack of respect I see and hear in media. We have songs that call women out by terrible names. We have too many videos that sexualize women.”