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Women's History Month

Profiles in Leadership

Dutta, Ranjana

Ranjana Dutta, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology


1. What is your name and profession?

Ranjana Dutta
Professor of Psychology

2. What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

Women’s history, for me, is to help me remember my strengths and virtues that are often “portrayed as weaknesses” in a “man’s world!”

3. As a woman, in what ways have you struggled to get to where you are today and how did you overcome those struggles?

I have struggled with looking at the male model for so-called “development!”  When arrogance, looking after one’s own interest above that of others, achievement at the cost of balance, profit at the cost of social good, analysis at the cost of synthesis, and logic at the cost of reason dominate.

4. What advice do you have for young women who are aspiring to follow their dreams?

Follow YOUR dreams — even if they are delicate, warm, nurturant. And don’t let some version of masculinity tell you that they are not worthy because they are not about wealth or name or fame or power. There is sacred value in raising a good family, a good garden, and cultivating a planet worthy of living for all.

5. As a woman in your position, how have you fought for equity in the workplace and for other women?

I have been mentored by wholesome women and I pay forward as a mentor to every woman who wants to be herself.

6. Who was your role model and how did they change your life?

I have a few role models. Each one teaches me that masculinity and femininity reside in each of us. We do disservice to our human selves by making ourselves lob-sided. I think every “male” needs to get in touch with their feminine side as much as every woman needs to get in touch with her masculine side.

7. If you could have dinner with any woman figure (dead or alive), who would you choose and why?

RGB – oh how I wish!! Quiet, tiny, gentler than a lamb, with the roar of a lion in her mighty pen, and super smart! She was as womanly as she could be, as humble as she could be, as fair as she could be, and she did everything she believed was right to bring balance to the world without getting into battles with men.  Gems don’t shine in the raw.... and rocks don’t ask people to lean on them. They are just there. It is for the world to recognize them. The sad part is that blinded by the glitter of power we do not recognize such folks early enough. The giving nature of a mother, the value of a good teacher who is a touchstone to your kids’ inspiration are exactly what the world needs but does not recognize as important. Just like the essential workers whose value was perceptibly highlighted after COVID again, the day will need to come when affiliative needs of womanhood and motherhood will be recognized to be just as important as the strength of instrumental achievement of manhood.

8. What is your hope for the next generation of women and girls?

My hope is for people ... of all shades of skin and genders to get unstuck from the current unhealthy models of “Development!” At the country level and at the individual level. Civilizations have come and gone before us … and if stones could talk, they would tell you the stories of all the travelers before us. Might kings with big armies, mighty fire power and ammo from mighty countries!! Nothing lasts forever, not even legacies that are written by the winners’ followers (often untrue and embellished). Life is a journey, give it all you got with all your talents. Live and let live. Love to know the meaning of pain, cry to know the joy of laughter, starve to know the urge of hunger, and then each day aspire to make someone’s life a tad better to know the meaning of satisfaction!! We will all leave this planet bare-handed, with no material goods, only the blessings of those we have somehow touched.