Women’s History: Then and Now

“Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.”

Hillary Clinton

Women’s History Month

Since the beginning of time, women have been making major impacts on society and contributions to the world. Officially in 1987, March became known as Women’s History Month, celebrating amazing women who opened the door for women’s rights. Women’s history month is full of ways to celebrate women, including International Women’s Day celebrated on March 8th every year. During women’s history month it is important to remember the powerful women who started the fight for equality and continue to impact fighters today.  


Influential Women of The Past and Present

Since the early 1700’s women have been making major impacts to our society causing major changes. This includes, the right to vote, educational rights, practicing medicine, reproductive rights, involvement in the civil rights movement and politics. These established women faced many challenges but still fought to change the future for women.

Then:

  • Abigail Adams: Known for being a strong advocate for woman’s rights in the late 1700’s.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony: Known for their activist ideas during the Suffrage Movement. Founders of the National Woman Suffrage Association which ultimately led to the passage of the 19th amendment, women’s right to vote.
  • Sojourner Truth: After living a terrible life as a slave, she became a well-known women’s rights activists, delivering her most famous speech “Ain’t I A Woman?”
  • Margaret Sanger: Opened the first birth control clinic in the United States. She is an advocate for women’s reproductive rights and founding the American Birth Control League which lead to the development of modern day Planned Parenthoods.
  • Amelia Earhart: The first woman to fly an airplane nonstop across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Rosa Parks: She refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus and sparked the Civil Rights Movement.

Now:

  • Nancy Pelosi: The first female speaker of the House.
  • Hillary Clinton: The first female to become a presidential nominee.
  • Kamala Harris: First woman and woman of color to become the Vice President of the United States.

Women in Medicine

Women’s rise in the medical field started when Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to earn a medical degree in 1849. Back in the 1900’s, it was very hard for women, especially of color, to be accepted into medical school. Men were the only ones who were awarded for their contributions in medicine. Today, women are eagerly taking over the medical field and being awarded for their contributions to medicine.

Powerful Women in Medicine

  • Dr. Virginia Apgar: Designed the first test for the health of newborns, known as the Apgar Score.
  • Dr. Helen Taussig: Led a cardiac operation that led to the development of open-heart surgery.
  • Dr. Irene Ferrer: Helped to develop the cardiac catheter.
  • Dr. Marilyn Gaston: Known for sickle cell disease research and helped develop nationwide screenings.

Although women created advances in medicine, today they are still faced with several challenges. These include:

  • Female doctors are paid less than men in the same field.
  • Fewer research and leadership roles for women.
  • Not receiving tenure at academic schools.

Despite these problems, women came a long way in the medical field and continue to inspire young girls every day.


Women in The Workplace

During the early 1900’s women did not work outside of the house. Their jobs were, childcare, and household tasks. It wasn’t until the mid to late 1900’s that women began taking over the workplace. Women would prepare for careers by getting an education and earning a degree. As of December 2020, women held 50.4% of American jobs. The two largest careers by women are health care and retail services. The growth of women in the workplace has benefits for society, but women still face many struggles in the workforce today.

Benefits of Female Workers

  • Women workers show higher, job satisfaction, meaningful work, and less burnout.
  • Positive employee interactions.
  • Creates more chances for women to make a difference.

Challenges for Female Workers

  • Women earning less wages than men.
  • Discrimination and sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Difficulties juggling career and childcare responsibilities.

Supporting Women in the Workplace

  • Do not discriminate by gender. Give all genders the ability to receive raises, and praises for their work.
  • Offer flexible work that fits into their lifestyle.
  • Take the time to get to know them and support their ideas.
  • Involve them in leadership roles and provide job advice.

Women in Sports

During the early 19th century women were told to not participate in sports and the sports industry remained a male field until the late 1900’s. Theories about sports in the early 19th century showed damaging results to women’s health, particularly reproductive health. Women competed for the first time at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1900. Of the 997 total players at the games, only 22 were women and they only competed in 5 sports, golf, tennis, equestrianism, sailing, and crochet. Women’s role in sports steadily increased during the late 1900’s. Today, female athletes are recognized for their talent and contributions to the sports industry. In 2012 at the Olympic Games in London, women played in every sports category and at the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, 45% of competitors were women.

Leading Women in Sports

  • Wilma Rudolph: An African American sprinter who was the first woman to win 3 gold medals in a single Olympics.
  • Janet Guthrie: In 1977, she became the first woman to compete in the Indy 500.
  • Manon Rheaume: In 1992, she became the first woman to compete in a National Hockey League game.
  • Billie Jean King: Known as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. She is also a major advocate for women and LGBTQ equality.
  • Serena & Venus Williams: Considered 2 of the best female tennis players with Serena being the only woman on the Forbes world’s highest paid athletes.
  • Lindsey Vonn: Won 4 World Cup championships in female skiing, becoming one of only 2 female skiers to accomplish this.
  • Danica Patrick: Became the first and only woman to win the IndyCar series in 2008 at the Indy Japan 300. She is the most accomplished woman of American open-wheel racing.

For decades women fought for recognition in the medical field, workplace and in sports. While women receive recognition for their achievements, there is still a long way to go. As Women’s History Month continues, let’s uplift each other by spreading kindness to the women in our lives. Be an advocate for women’s right and speak up for what you believe in. Always encourage other women to join in the fight for gender equality.

“Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”

Serena Williams

Leave a Reply