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March Madness? Women’s history bracket takes on advocacy with a full-court press

Mar 11, 2019

For the last three years, a group of St. Bonaventure University faculty and staff have initiated March Madness-style bracket contest to spur conversations and knowledge about some trailblazing women in history.

Each year, the committee has developed a bracket of accomplished women within the framework of a central theme. 

Dubbed March into Women’s History, the initial bracket takes 16 inspiring women in each of four categories for a total of 64 women, much like the NCAA basketball bracket is constructed.

This year, with advocacy as the central theme, the four sub-categories are religion, health care, education and social justice.

Dr. Pauline Hoffmann and Dr.  Kimberly DeSimone, professors in the university’s Jandoli School of Communication, led the charge with colleagues from other academic and support areas to develop and launch the initial Women’s History Bracket in 2016. The leadership group has grown since then but the goal to recognize women is still the same.

The group of students, faculty and staff selected a diverse group of women across many eras from an international pool and gave consideration to women who were “first” in a particular area. They chose advocacy for this year’s theme because, nationally and internationally, women have played a large role in advocating for positive changes in society. 

“Certainly, 16 women in each category does not nearly sum up the contributions of women in each area,” said Hoffmann. “However, the women we include in our bracket each year have important and notable stories. This is one way we can share those stories.”

Voting in the first round begins today, March 12, and will continue throughout the month until the field is eventually narrowed to two women on March 27, with the winner being announced March 28.

The organizers’ goal is to start a conversation. “Tell us about who we’ve missed,” Hoffmann said. “Tell us why you voted as you did. And tell us how these women might have had an impact on your own life.”

Announcements and updates will be posted throughout the month on various university social media accounts. 

Bracket Breakdown
Voting in the first round of 64 women begins March 12 and will continue round by round through March 28, when the winner will be announced at a final wrap-up party on campus. (The location will be announced at a later date.)

The schedule below outlines the dates and times (all EST) for voting:

  • 9 a.m. March 12 to 5 p.m. March 14: Voting begins to narrow bracket from 64 to 32.
  • 9 a.m. March 15: Round of 32 voting (to get to 16) begins.
  • 5 p.m. March 18: Round of 32 voting ends.
  • 9 a.m. March 19: Sweet 16 voting (to get to 8) begins.
  • 5 p.m. March 20: Sweet 16 voting ends.
  • 9 a.m. March 21: Elite 8 voting (to get to 4) begins.
  • 5 p.m. March 24: Elite 8 voting ends.
  • 9 a.m. March 25: Final 4 voting (to get to 2) begins.
  • 5 p.m. March 26: Final 4 voting ends.
  • 9 a.m. March 27: Championship round voting begins.
  • 10 a.m. March 28: Championship round voting ends.
  • 4 p.m. March 28: Announcement of the winner during the March Into Women’s History Bracket celebration (location to be announced at a later date).


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #1 regional university value in New York and #2 in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition.