Since we are in March. I would like to talk about The National Women’s History Month. March is women’s history month in the United States, UK, and Australia! It is a time to celebrate the women’s contributions that they have made to the history and the barriers they have had to succeed in dealing with. For many years, women’s history was forgotten and ignored as unimportant achievements, but the effort has been sought to close this gap and more concentration paid on women’s issues.
In the late 1970, academics and scholars lead a revolution for the acknowledgement women’s work throughout the country’s history. Actually, the celebration began with a single day and it has been changed over time. Local groups and municipalities began celebrating a women’s history week and the movement was so popular for a decade (Willingham, 2020).
In 1980, president Jimmy Carter determined the first official national women’s history week, beginning on March 8 of that year (Willingham, 2020). Schools, universities and local governments have started celebrating the achievements of women during this week and educating people about women’s history.
With more equality and opportunities for women, the Congress declared a women’s history week became a month. March 1987 was the first official Women’s History Month.
Between 1988 and 1994, Congress passed additional decisions authorizing the President to proclaim March of each year as Women’s History Month
Since 1995, each president has issued an annual announcement determining the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”
Consequently, women’s history month has been celebrated for the entire month of March to pay attention to the role women that have had during the country’s history.
Every year the National Women’s History Alliance selects and publishes one theme. The theme for this year is “Valiant Women of the Vote.” The theme honors “the brave women who fought to win suffrage rights for women, and for the women who continue to fight for the voting rights of others.”Susan Scanlan and the History of Women’s History Month
Recently, there are many important organizations come together to celebrate and sponsor activities and resources for the commemoration of Women’s History month during March each year including The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (The Library of Congress, 2020).
Actually, I appreciate the idea of this celebration to make people more aware of issues that have faced women particularly gender issues and gender equality, but I’m wondering what have been done to change some of these issues? Even though there is an entire month to honor women contributions in American history, there is underrepresentation of women in STEM subjects, leadership careers, and wage gap between men and women!!
For example, there are still some issues with gender inequality in STEM fields. According to a nationally representative Pew Research Center survey, the majority of STEM women have experienced gender discrimination at work. Although women operate the half of jobs in the U.S. economy, they hold less than 25% of STEM jobs. The percentage of female faculty in STEM majors is on average 16.9% which is extremely less compared to male counterparts, however, this difference is less in non-STEM majors (Roy, 2019). Even though females might encounter some challenges including finding a balance between their work and family, which makes it more difficult for them to achieve some positions, I believe that women have different perspectives and experiences compared to their male counterparts, so they can target issues that might not attract a male’s attention.
In this respect, I would like to mention some examples of the first women in STEM fields.
Mary G. Ross (1908- 2008): was the first native American mechanical engineer. She was a founding member of Lockheed secret Advanced Development Program. At Lockheed, Ross designed rockets and ballistic missiles, developed systems for human space flight and interplanetary missions to Mars and Venus, etc. After retiring, she had a second career as an advocate for women and Native Americans in engineering and mathematics. To honor her contributions to the space program, the United States Mint included a design featuring Mary G. Ross to be on the US 2019 one-dollar coin.
Flossie Wong-Staal (1947- present) is a Chinese-American virologist and molecular biologist. She is one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field of virology. She and her team made a breakthrough, the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Wong-Staal was the first scientist to clone HIV and determine the work of its genes as an essential stage in proving that HIV is a cause of AIDS. For her participations to science, the Institute for Scientific Information ranked Wong-Staal the top woman scientist of the 1980s. Also, she was ranked as one of “Top 100 Living Geniuses.” in 2007.
Patricia Bath (1942- 2019) is African American ophthalmologist and laser scientist. She is the first black women to chair an ophthalmology residency program in the U.S. and the first African American female doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose. She invented Laserphaco for the laser cataract surgery in 1986. Bath co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness to “protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight” for all people in spite of race, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. Her “personal best moment” according to her happened when she restored the sight of a woman in South Africa who had been blind for 30 years.
I think U.S. and other countries need to give women the opportunities for get advantages of brainpower and innovation of all people. Removing barriers to women’s participation and success in STEM fields will benefit the whole nation.
Finally, a quotation by First Lady Michelle Obama is “If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, we’ve got to open doors for everyone. We need all hands on deck, and that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.” (Michelle Obama, 2011).
Happy National Month Ladies!
Roy, J. (2019) Engineering by the numbers. American Society for Engineering Education. Retrieved from https://ira.asee.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2018-Engineering-by-Numbers-Engineering-Statistics-UPDATED-15-July-2019.pdf