As you no doubt know, March is women’s history month.
You might be tempted to ask, why is there a women’s history month when there’s no men’s history month? Well, I’ll bet you can answer that question by doing a little thinking.
How much women’s history did you learn in elementary school? How much in high school? I remember history as a long list of wars and generals. The battle of this and the battle of that – lots of blood and guts: men’s history. But women? Where were the women?
Well, there was Clara Barton, nursing soldiers during the Civil War. She might have gotten a sentence or two in my fifth-grade history book.
As I reflect on high school history classes, I think there was one photograph of a suffragist, with almost no information at all on the women’s struggle to gain the vote. For the most part history was all about men.
Perhaps it is different today. Maybe students learn about the contributions women have made to our culture, our nation and our world.
Whether you know a lot about U.S. women’s history or not, in honor of Women’s History Month, here are a few facts on the subject.
A woman suffrage amendment to the Federal Constitution was presented to every Congress from 1878 until 1919, failing to pass every time except the last.
In 1917, the first woman was elected to the House of Representatives: Jeanette Rankin of Montana.
In 1920, U. S. women received the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
In 1933, the first woman was elected to the U.S. Senate: Hattie Caraway from Arkansas.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 required equal wages for women and men doing equal work.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination against women by any company with 25 or more employees.
In 1968, the first black woman was elected to the House of Representatives: Shirley Chisholm of New York.
In 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor from Arizona was the first woman appointed the Supreme Court.
In 1984, New York’s Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman to run for Vice President on a major party ticket.
In 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida became the first Hispanic woman elected to Congress.
In 1992, Carol Moseley-Braun of Illinois became the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Senate.
In 1997, Madeleine Albright was sworn in as the first female U.S. Secretary of State.
In 2000, Hillary Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming the first first lady ever elected to national office.
In 2005, Condoleezza Rice became the first African-American female Secretary of State.
In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton won the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary becoming the first women in U.S. history to win a presidential primary contest.
Despite all these firsts, the U.S. still has no equal rights amendment to its Constitution. And, as a group, women continue to earn significantly less than men earn.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful that we have one month each year dedicated to women’s history. It gives me a good excuse to stop and consider all that our foremothers have done for us, and to be re-inspired to make some kind of positive contribution of my own.
For more women’s history information, check out the National Women’s History Project at: