A professor in the Department of Classical Studies, Dr. Sheila Ager argues that, when it comes to the status of women, the ancient world is not as far away as one might think. Starting with ancient Athens, she demonstrates that old prejudices and ancient discriminatory practices persist in the world’s societies and religions. ‘Women’s rights,’ she states, is a very recent – and both fragile and culturally restricted – phenomenon in human history, and she warns against complacency – especially in Western democracies where many may feel that the struggle for equality is over.
In 2019, Sheila Ager was named Dean of the University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Arts, the first woman to serve in that role. Her research has focused on the Hellenistic age between the death of Alexander the Great (323 BCE) and the suicide of Cleopatra (30 BCE). Much of her work, including her book Interstate Arbitrations in the Greek World, 337-90 BC, has looked at the issue of peaceful resolution of disputes, which undoubtedly will serve her well in her new role as Dean.