Women’s History month traces its origin back to March 8,1857, when a group of women in New York staged protests over factory working conditions. Although Congress didn’t establish National Women’s history week to be celebrated during the second week of March until 1981 and was eventually turned into a whole month in 1987, International Women’s Day was first celebrated and seen in 1909. Women throughout history have overcome inequality, neglect, and we still continue to fight for our full rights. Our gradual success over the last few hundred years can be seen below:
The terms “persons,” “people” and “electors” allow for the meaning of those terms to include both men and women in the U.S constitution.
Mississippi becomes the first state in the U.S to allow married women to have the right to hold property in their own names and independently of their husbands.
The first woman is elected into Congress: Jeannette Rankin of Montana
The 19th amendment allows the right for Women to vote
The first woman cabinet member is elected: Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins
Congress passed the Equal Pay Act stating to close the gender pay gap
Supreme court makes the protection of women’s reproductive rights legal in Roe v. Wade
Congress makes March National Women’s History Month
President Obama intended to reduce the pay gap between genders by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law.
Hillary Clinton was the woman nominated by the Democratic party to run for president.
In Washington D.C. alone, almost 500,000 activists participated in the Women’s march to protest Women’s rights.
To see what some women on the COCC campus feel about this day and what it means, we asked them a few questions.
A: What empowers you as a woman?
B: Who do you admire most as a female and why?
C: Do you feel like there is gender equality from your own personal experience? Why or why not?
A: “As a woman, I find nothing more empowering than living life by no ones standards but my own. The world we live in today has become a seemingly endless compilation of expectations to which women in particular seem to be expected to abide by and meet. It gives me pride to live by no one’s rules or expectations but my own, with the hope that doing so will inspire others to do the same.”
B: “Out of all the women in the world, the one I admire most is my mother. My mother has still managed to remain completely involved in my sister and I’s life despite working long hours, often leaving the house before we get up and returning late. Outside of my family, I have for years held a great admiration for Ellen DeGeneres. This began when I was much younger without me really even realizing it, as I religiously watched her talk show each day after school. I always loved how personal she was with her audience and guests alike, seeming to take a special interest in each person’s cares and worries.”
C: “I do feel as though there is gender equality within the world in which we live today. Even in comparison to just 50 years ago, the position of women in society has increased tenfold. That being said, I do still see there being inequality in some aspects. In certain realms of the professional and sports worlds especially, some undeniable distinctions between men and women do exist. However, some of these instances I feel are understandable, coming as more of a result of the natural differences between a man and a woman and less so as that of sexist bias.”
COCC Math Tutor
A: “I think knowing that the women before me fought and struggled to achieve everything I can enjoy today empowers me. I have the right to vote, own land, work the same job as a man, and hold positions of authority. Women have accomplished so much throughout history. We have broken barriers and broken records. We have established material and intangible commonalities alike.”
B: “My mom, Rebecca Walker-Sands. She has worked so hard to get to the position she’s in now. Despite the several hardships she encountered along the way to her Ph.D., my mother persevered. My mom raised my sister and I with the most relevant and scientifically-proven methods and because of her educational background in child development. If it weren’t for all her efforts in the past and the present, I certainly would not be here now and I wouldn’t be the person I am today. For non-family members I’d have to say Anita Sarkeesian. Her mission in life is to educate the world on feminism and how it’s not the terrible, man-hating conspiracy that so many people seem to think it is. Her primary platform seems to be YouTube, though she does convey information through other social media outlets as well.”
C: “Not at all. Granted, things have gotten better than they used to be, but we’ve still got a long ways to go. Anyway, I do not feel there is gender equality. If there was, women would get paid as much as men for doing the same job; women would be able to make their own decisions about their bodies without being harassed just like men can; birth control would be easy to obtain just like Viagra is; men could wear dresses, skirts, and other traditionally feminine attire out in public without being mocked and labeled; etc.”
A: “I feel like friendship and allies in general makes me feel better with myself, more empowered. I would also say that when there are policies that are put into place whether that is legislation or workplace policies that open doors for women. When I see things like that happen, that empowers me. Even to see little girls now who are growing up in a different time with doors wide open to them.”
B: “My paternal grandmother who emigrated to the U.S. from Spain in 1913. She taught her own children and her grandchildren and great grandchildren the importance of family and especially of family gatherings. A non-family member would be Molly Murphy MacGregor, one of the co-founders of the National Women’s History Project, the non-profit organization that is responsible for our nation celebrating March as Women’s History Month.”
C: “I have been fortunate in my career choice (a college English teacher) where I have not personally experienced inequality because I am a woman. But I see it in a number of other places. It’s hard to ignore that a small percentage of women are among our elected officials in Congress. (A total of 104 out of 535 members, which is 19.4%; that includes 21 out of 100 in the Senate (or 21% there), and 83 in the House of Representatives (19.1%).”
World Languages & Cultures
A: “Both men and women (friends), kind of empower me in the way that they support me and support my decisions and give me the ‘go-ahead’ in the ideas that I have. Family members as well, my family is very supportive of the decisions that I make. I do have an older sister who just became a CEO at her job, she’s also kind of a role model for me, seeing her get stuff done because in the business world, there aren’t a lot of female CEOs. It’s kind of neat to be able to see barriers being broken like that.”
B: “Within my family, I would definitely say my Grandmother who passed away a few years ago, she was just a happy and supportive person. She fulfilled the more standard gender role of being a mother, but she was just a really positive person. She was very supportive in any life-decision that you would have, she was very open minded with anyone in her life. For a non-family member I would say Michelle Obama. She’s intelligent, well spoken, motivated, and she’s just a very strong women. She’s really well balanced, she’s pursuing social justice, and a career, while maintaining a balanced family lifestyle.”
C: “So I believe that compared with times in the past, there is much more gender equality. It’s not total equality, there are still certain expectations that certain people have, there are certain kind of gendered norms that the woman is going to be the one to take care of the children more. It’s not like that is necessarily a bad thing, but it is bad when a woman doesn’t want to fit into those norms and then is looked down upon for that. In compared to many places, there is a fair bit of equality, but there’s still a lot of kind of norms and expectations that women should fulfill a certain role, and men should fulfill a certain role too. There is room for improvement in a lot of ways, I would say compared to the expectations that were put on my grandparents or even my parents of what a woman can or can’t do. I personally don’t feel very limited by that.”
Student, Criminal Justice
A: “I’d say all the love and support from family members, and from friends. But I think having that group of people who always have your back no matter what you choose to do is so important.”
B: “In my family probably my mom, she had me when she was 19 and I’ve never struggled or had any less than people with parents who had a solid foundation and had a lot of money when they were born. I don’t know if I’d have the courage and the self confidence I have today without her. For a non family member I’d say Sara Gravelle, she’s a local boss babe who makes the bikinis that I model. She is one of the most inspiring creative people I’ve ever met and no matter the crazy idea she’s always down for the adventure.”
C: “I think that the whole gender equality thing is just a way for people to grow apart. I think that there are so many differences in people, I know so many amazing women who are incredible moms and super creative and who have full time jobs, and I know men who are amazing dads and who are insanely strong and who also have full time jobs and I know some who are completely the opposite but I think that if a woman wants to kick butt and do a typically male job then she should have that opportunity and she should get all the benefits that he gets.”
Student, Marketing & Communications
A: “My mom has always been a solid example of someone always supporting me. She’s just never told me that I can’t do anything, she always said that if I wanted something, then go for it, but I have to work for it. She encouraged me to be the jack-of-all-trades and try new things. It didn’t matter if I wanted to play baseball or be a ballerina, she just wanted me to get out there. I’m an older sister and I have 2 younger sisters, so it’s empowering to know I am a solid example for them as they grow up. It’s nice to know that someone looks up to me.”
B: “My sister Maggie doesn’t care what anyone thinks, is a free spirit, and has her own opinions and I really admire that. I wish I was more like that. This might sound dumb, but the character Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) I admire her character if that makes sense. Her as a mom and as a person, she’s so independent, and she’s super strong, and has an amazing relationship with her daughter in the show. I hope that when I come to that point in life I am like her. In a way, I admire independent mothers that are successful on their own even if they don’t need to be.”
C: “I think that issues I’ve had with inequality have more to do with being younger in the past and not having certain opportunities because of my age. So no, I don’t think so. It is definitely out there. But in my own little bubble of life, I don’t have that problem.”
Katya Agatucci | The Broadside