As we close out another Women’s History Month, I have to admit to mixed feelings about this recognition. Do we need this month or do we acknowledge contributions of a special few for a month and then forget them for the rest of the year?
Women don’t make history one month out of the year. They do it constantly and have since the beginning of time. But it’s like the old adage–women doing twice as well as men to be thought half as good. In order to be recognized in history books, women have had to demonstrate superior courage, conviction, and intelligence. More so than male counterparts. So we hear about Madame Curie, Harriet Tubman, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
But what about all the other women we don’t hear about? Louise Thaden? Jovita Idár? Dr. Rebecca Crumpler? Perhaps this is what Women’s History Month is about. Hearing stories about women we haven’t been introduced to previously.
In my last two books for the Women of Action series published by Chicago Review Press, I wrote about women who took to the skies. First in airplanes, and then in spaceships. Now, we’ve all heard of Amelia Earhart and Pancho Barnes. And some of us have heard of pilots Bessie Coleman and Jerrie Cobb.
Yet when I started researching the stories of other women pilots—Elinor Smith, Willa Brown, Violet Cowden, Ingrid Pederson—I became awe-struck and a little angry. Why had I not heard of these women before?
Suddenly, I wanted to spread the word of these and other phenomenal women, but I was limited by the availability of words in my contracts.
The thing that stuck out in my research of Amelia Earhart didn’t relate to her flying ability because there were many women with superior flying abilities. It was her interest and respect of women of achievement. If you think history books are lacking in information about women now, consider what history books were like when she was a young girl in the early 20th century. Perhaps that’s why she kept a scrapbook of women she admired.
Educator Myra Pollack Sadker once said that, “Each time a girl opens a book and reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.”
That is why Women’s History Month is so important.