For more than three decades, March has been designated as Women’s History Month. Sometimes it seems like the impact of women’s history might seem abstract to some, and less pressing than the immediate struggles of working women today. But to ignore the vital role that women’s dreams and accomplishments play in our own lives would be a great mistake. We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us – and those remarkable women working among us today. They are part of our story, and a truly balanced and inclusive history recognizes how important women have always been in American society.
Recognizing the dignity and accomplishments of women in our own families and those from other backgrounds leads to higher self-esteem among girls and greater respect among boys and men. The results can be remarkable, from greater achievement by girls in school to less violence against women, and more stable and cooperative communities.
Here are just a few Amazing Facts about women in the United States:
- 50.52% of the United States population was female in 2018.
- 54.6 of the United States workforce are women, as of 2018
- On average, in the United States, full-time working women earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by men.
- 71% of mothers in the United States, with children under 18-years-old, work outside of the home. Approximately 40 years ago, less than 47% of mothers worked
- The mother is the singular or principal breadwinner in 40% of families with children in the United States.
- The average salary of an African-American female college graduate in a full-time position is less than that of a white male high-school drop-out.
“She believed she could, so she did.” — R. S. Grey
- The two highest IQ scores in recorded history belong to women.
- Women earn more than 60% of all college degrees in the United States.
- 51.2% of all artists in the United States are women; 5% of works in museums are by women.
- 95% of enrollees in weight-loss programs are women, although the sexes are overweight in equal proportions.
Are We There Yet? History helps us learn who we are, but when we do not know our own history, our power and dreams are immediately diminished.
“Well behaved women rarely make history.” Elenor Roosevelt
I could list dozens of examples of women who have changed the course of western civilization, exercised real power, divided up Europe, restored the papacy to Rome, started major wars, ended major wars, conducted complex political and financial negotiations at the very top levels of government, and dictated political and economic policies that affected the lives of hundreds of thousands of their subjects. Yet hardly any of these women rate even two sentences in an American textbook.
Yes, we have separate Women’s Studies classes, but we are not included in the core curriculum, anywhere from grade school through college. Continuing to allow women to be shunted off to the side in this way — for no matter how impressive the academic department, or how large the museum, or how many previously unknown females are highlighted in the month of March, that is what we are doing— we are ensuring that women remain a subset of history rather than integral components of recognized major events.
“We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated.” — Maya Angelou
When Women’s History Month — or Black History Month for that matter — was initiated it was a necessary first step towards remedying inequality. But it has been over 30 years now and the achievements of powerful women of the distant past are still almost totally unrecognized. As Morgan Freeman said in a 2005 interview with Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes, “I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”
That is exactly how I feel about Women’s History Month. Women’s history is world history. Women are still striving for a number of rights, (I.e., equal pay, the right to determine what happens to our bodies, being a real part of the decision making processes and so on, but until we are written into the history books, for me it is still “His Story”.
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” Oprah