Hard Hatted Women and Women in Action: History and Experiences of Working Women at University Museum Exhibit

Posted on 2/4/2019 12:06:03 PM

Hard Hatted Women: Trailblazing in the Labor UnionsThe University Museum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania will present two concurrent exhibits featuring women and work from February 9 through March 9, 2019. Hard Hatted Women is a multimedia exhibit about women who were trailblazers in the Pittsburgh region’s labor movement during the 1970s and 1980s. Women in Action presents artworks from the University Museum’s permanent collection that emphasize women working in a variety of fields. 

In addition to a video of 12 trailblazing women talking about their experiences in the labor movement, Hard Hatted Women presents period photos and memorabilia from private collections.  Featured activists include IUP alumna Nancy Murray (BA 1968 in sociology and anthropology), who organized a group known as Hard Hatted Women in 1978 to address the needs of women in nontraditional jobs.

The exhibit also showcases Rita Drapkin, coordinator of the IUP Counseling Center and member of the Teamster’s Union, who spoke about sexual harassment on the job at the first Pittsburgh “Take Back the Night March” in 1979.

The exhibit presents a history of working women who traditionally worked mostly in service jobs that paid less and provided fewer benefits or opportunities for advancement than professional or industrial jobs held by men. Although federal and state laws were enacted to promote equal opportunity in the workplace beginning with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, change did not come easily or quickly. Hard Hatted Women documents the achievements of women with varied work experiences (from steelworkers to builders to miners) and the stories of how they unionized, integrated traditionally male occupations, and broke down barriers to employment equality.

The exhibit of Women in Action shows women actively contributing to and participating in a variety of fields, from industry, to arts, to politics. The exhibit includes art by women and features a wide range of styles and media, including photography, painting, posters, drawings, and ceramics. Images explore the role of women who were pioneers in their fields, such as Eleanor Roosevelt in politics and Amelia Earhart in aviation. Women in Action includes artwork by Pittsburgh artist, Louise Pershing (1904–86). The exhibit also explores women’s roles and contributions during different historical eras and in different parts of the world, from post-World War II Italy to the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico.

An opening reception will be held at the University Museum on Saturday, February 9, from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The University Museum is located on the first floor of Sutton Hall. The Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday 2:00 p.m.–6:30 p.m.; Thursday noon–7:30 p.m.; and Saturday noon–4:00 p.m. Admission is free, and free parking is available in the IUP Parking Garage after 5:00 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

This exhibit is supported in part by the Student Cooperative Association at IUP. The University Museum receives state arts funding support from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, through the Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance.

For more information on this and other Museum events, please contact Audrey Swartz, IUP Department of Art, at 724-357-2530, or email museum-info@iup.edu.