BY MEG FOSTER Dr. Ashley Simons-Rudolph wears many hats: she is director of the NC State Women’s Center, a Women’s and Gender Studies instructor, a researcher and writer, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a paddle-boarder, an aspiring banjo player—and she infuses into each role the same passion that she brings to her job at the Women’s Center.
Although Simons-Rudolph’s path to the Women’s Center began when she was an undergraduate at NC State minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies, her commitment to social justice issues began even earlier. She wrote feminist papers in the fourth grade. She jokes: “If you met me when I was 6 or when I was 36, you’d essentially meet the same person.” There’s no question that educating, inspiring, and advocating for others has always been Simons-Rudolph’s calling, and one of her proudest accomplishments is her unwavering commitment to the values she has fought for since the fourth grade.
Dr. Simons-Rudolph has over 15 years of experience working toward gender equity—and that experience goes beyond the United States. In 2011, Simons-Rudolph accepted a position as an adjunct professor of psychology at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Aside from the history of gender and social movements in the United States, Dr. Simons-Rudolf also has an interest in gender and health internationally and believes in developing cross-cultural understandings of gender equity with her students.
Since returning to the U.S. and taking on her role of director at the Women’s Center, it has become clear to Simons-Rudolph that there are a number of pressing issues for women right now in North Carolina. Second Wave Feminists achieved much in the field of gender equality, but a lot of work still remains. Dr. Simons-Rudolph notes three important steps to inspiring a new generation of people to come together to achieve gender equality once and for all:
- Becoming aware of inequality;
- Understanding that there exists a responsibility to address inequality;
- Providing young people with the tools and skills to work for change.
As for those future leaders of change, Simons-Rudolph advises: “Make your life a service.” Dr. Simons-Rudolph argues that “you can have it all, all the time, but you need to be intentional about what it ‘all’ is. Define what is really important to you and do that thing first and best.”
Simons-Rudolph doesn’t just preach intentionality, she exemplifies it – both in the office and at her home. Whether it’s by mentoring an intern at the Women’s Center, bringing her daughter to an NC State Women’s Basketball game, or working with her partner as Editors in Chief of an academic journal entitled Gender Issues, Simons-Rudolph promotes gender equity everywhere and every day, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “There was never anything else that I wanted to do. My community and my faith taught me that I not only have the privilege of working towards social justice, but that I have a responsibility to do what I can. I have the best job in the world!”
Watch this video that NC State made to learn more about Dr. Simons-Rudolph, and stay updated on the Women AdvaNCe summit in fall 2014, where Dr. Simons-Rudolph will speak.