March marks the beginning of Spring, which to many represents fresh hope, new beginnings, and motivation to advance goals and aspirations. This sentiment goes hand in hand with Women’s History Month as a time to celebrate phenomenal women throughout America’s rich history.
For years, women’s history was missing from our nation’s textbooks. During the 1970s, the topic was virtually unknown within the K-12 public school curriculum. The story of Women’s History Month is truly about diversity and inclusion.
“Walk the street with us into history. Get off the sidewalk.” Dolores Huerta, (1930-), labor leader and civil rights activist
Let’s look at some events (a full list would be never-ending) from the past that made it possible for women to walk into history as Dolores Huerta demanded.
- In 1789, our Constitution was ratified to state that both men and women were included when “persons”, “people”, and “electors” were referenced.
- In 1840, the first woman received a bachelor’s degree in the U.S. Her name was Catherine Brewer and she graduated from Georgia Female College (now Wesleyan College) in Macon, GA.
- In 1872, two important events occurred. First, Susan B. Anthony is arrested for trying to vote. Not only that but Victoria Claflin Woodhull was the first woman Presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party.
- In 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
- In 1932, Hattie Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman elected to the Senate.
- In 1964, an act is passed that prohibits employment discrimination on basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex.
- In 1973, Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case protects woman’s right to terminate pregnancy.
- In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman Supreme Court justice. Not only that but in 1981, Congress authorized and requested President Jimmy Carter to designate the week of March 7th be Women’s History Week. After being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project.
- In 1987, the entire month of March became Women’s History Month.
Now, let’s see how we are continuing towards diversity and inclusion more recently:
- In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House.
- In 2009, Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina Supreme Court Justice.
- In 2015, two of the biggest accounting firms in the US elected their first women as CEOs.
- In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first woman presidential nominee for a major political party.
Not only are these influential women making a change, but women throughout the country are working hard and creating change of their own. Women now earn more Bachelor’s Degrees than men, the Female-to-Male Earnings Ratio has gotten smaller over the past 40 years, and the percentage of wives who earn more than their husbands has been going up as well.
Throughout the month of March every year, we honor those women who paved the way for the future and celebrate women persisting towards equality today.