Celebrate Women; Every Day of the Year
Celebrate Women; Every Day of the Year
By Anna Hessel with Wes Hessel
History In the Making
Women’s History Month 2022 is now behind us, but women’s contributions to society continue, so we are recognizing some of the Women’s History Month themes of previous years in honor of the confirmation of our first female African American Supreme Court Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. The theme for 2022 is “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope”, which pays tribute to frontline workers, medical professionals, and caregivers. The 2021 Women’s History Month topic saluted the strength of women in times of difficulty.
Glass Is Trash
During 2020, festivities for the centennial of women’s suffrage had to be postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, therefore 2020’s theme, “Valiant Women of the Vote: Refusing to be Silenced”, was extended through 2021, as we celebrated the election of our first female Vice-President, Kamala Harris. The intent was to pay respect to the ladies that paved the way for women’s voting rights. Now that the second highest office in the land has had its see-through ceiling shattered, the view to the top looks clear for breakthrough when President Biden hands over the reins. Ladies, we should make sure we are wearing cute shoes and watch where we step, as there is glass everywhere, and more to come.
Barriers are falling and walls are continuing to be breached. As Douglas Emhoff put it, “I may be the first Second Gentleman, but I know I won’t be the last.” The foundation for more is being laid in part by the man who wrote and pushed through the “Violence Against Women” Act. Dr. Jill Biden has a doctorate in education. Ms Biden is the only First Lady to continue her career while her spouse has led the nation. But there were leaders before them who led the way. Shirley Chisholm was the first woman of color elected to Congress, then the first woman to run for the Democratic nomination for president. Geraldine Ferraro was the first woman to be a major party candidate for Vice-President.
Working From Within
The 2016 Women’s History Month theme was “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” This sisterhood of political pioneers have opened the doors of diversity for our nation. The National Women’s History Project for that year honored the often undervalued and overlooked women in government leadership and public service. This collection of amazing women has stood on the forefront of change, and their dramatic influence on public policy and the assisting of building viable organizations and institutions have helped lead the way to a more democratic, safer, and stronger America.
Above And Beyond
These women have fought to insure equal opportunity for all. With diversity of experience and tireless dedication to community service, each of these public leaders, have succeeded against seemingly insurmountable challenges. This company of ladies and their ability to create non-partisan policies and all-encompassing solutions, in addition to their determination, art of collaboration, and amazing skill sets, will serve our nation today and inspire our future generations. We applaud these women for their unyielding courage and faithful service.
Women In Front
Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “Behind every successful man, there is a woman”. Behind every successful woman is one or more women who succeeded before them, breaking ground or building up new progress. And these were not always just in the advancement of women’s rights. Most of us know of Madame Curie, and her ground-breaking radiation work. But what about Tabitha Babbitt, a Shaker who came up with the prototype for the circular saw? Or Nancy Johnson, who patented the original hand-cranked ice cream freezer.
Josephine Cochrane created the first dishwasher to achieve commercial success, with the first use of water pressure to scrub. Sarah Boone improved the portable ironing board to the familiar wedge shape of what we use today for our pressing engagements. Alice H. Parker created the first natural gas central furnace.
Men Don’t Have A Monopoly
Elizabeth Magie gave us “The Landlord’s Game”, the forerunner of what we now know as probably the most recognized board game ever, “Monopoly”. In its design she made social commentary on property owners of her time in their treatment of tenants and materialistic priorities, as well as the benefits of home ownership.
The first female scientist hired by GE, Katharine Burr Blodgett, developed the first method to put one-molecule thick coatings onto glass or metal. This made possible non-reflective glass, which is used for lenses on common items such as eyeglasses, cameras, microscopes, and other optics, as well as picture frames and the like. She also invented screens during World War II to protect troops from toxins in smoke.
Even More Data
In 1944, data processing pioneer Grace Hopper worked with Howard Aiken to create the Mark I computer at Harvard, then later came up with the computer slang “bug” and its companion, “debug”, after finding an errant moth had caused a system problem. She was also on the team that developed COBOL. Architect Eleanor Raymond collaborated with biophysicist Maria Telkes to build the first solar heated home in 1947.
She Didn’t Just Play A Spy…
And Hedy Lamarr didn’t rest on her acting laurels – her work with George Anthiel in 1941 created a “Secret Communication System” that depended at least in part on frequency-hopping for security. These innovations and further work on her part gave us the beginnings of “spread-spectrum” technology, which became the basis for fax machines, cell phones, GPS, Wifi, and other related wireless communication advances.
Create Like It’s 1966
1966 was a bellwether year – in it Marie Van Brittan Brown patented the first closed-circuit TV security system. Again in ’66, Stephanie Kwolek invented-Kevlar. Kevlar is one of the most important synthetic fabric fibers ever created. She developed the process while working on strengthening material for auto tires. It is still used for tires, and brake shoe linings, boat hulls, flame-resistant clothing, and many other composite materials. It’s most significant use has saved countless law enforcement and military personnel; which we are extremely thankful for – the bulletproof vest.
Dr. Jackson, Dr. Jackson…
The first black woman to receive a M.I.T. PhD, Shirley Jackson, helped develop modern communication technologies such as touch tones, call waiting and caller ID, and fiber optic cables, in addition to solar cells. And she was the first woman to head one of the major technological institutions, in her case Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
They Figure In
Since this article is about women, we can’t forget women in American history; explorer Sacagawea, original First Lady Dolley Madison, abolitionist Sojourner Truth, women’s suffrage advocate Susan B. Anthony, famed authors Louisa May Alcott and Harriet Beecher Stowe, Red Cross founder Clara Barton and fellow super-nurse Florence Nightingale, aviatrix Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, poet and author Julia Ward Howe, civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King, just to name but a very few…
Wells, Wells, Wells…
Women have typically had to be multi-taskers – many took this to levels of great feats. Ida B. Wells was a women’s rights and civil rights activist (one of the founders of the NAACP), while also wearing the hats of teacher and investigative reporter, particularly focused on the horrors of lynching. She, working with Frederick Douglass and other African American leaders, orchestrated a boycott of the 1893 Columbian Exposition, since Blacks were not permitted to enter the exhibit areas. Ms. Wells also advocated for school integration, and helped found many African American clubs, particularly for women of color.
Working It In
Contemporary to Ida B. was housing reformer, women’s suffragette, social work pioneer, and political administrator Jane Addams. Harriet Tubman made a career out of multiple jobs – in addition to her famous slavery freedom trips, she was a spy for the Union, abolitionist, and political advocate.
Multiple talents aren’t just a precedent of years gone by – what about actress, director, and producer Penny Marshall? Or dancer, choreographer, singer, and reality talent judge Paula Abdul? Queen Latifah handles music (including songwriting), acting, and producing, equally well. While we’re on the subject of entertainment, we can’t forget Cher and Madonna. Then there’s the lifestyle mavens such as Martha Stewart, Rachel Ray, and Ree Drummond. And, of course, there’s one lady we only need one word for: Oprah.
Great women of sports also abound. Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias excelled in baseball, golf, track and field, and basketball. In the 1932 Summer Olympics, she received two gold medals for track and field events, then became a golf professional, and went on to win ten LPGA major championships. In 1951 she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame, and she was married until her death in 1956 to George Zaharias. Babe is seen as a lady ahead of her time.
They Have the Drive
Ms. Zaharias has been followed by other outstanding female athletes, such as a professional from Sweden who is considered to be one of history’s most stellar lady golfers: Annika Sörenstam. She has received numerous awards, including H.M. The King’s Medal, AP Female Athlete of the Year 2003-2004, Bob Jones Award, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nancy Lopez’ exemplary career was also precedent setting.
The dynasty of the Williams’ sisters in tennis is one of the great dominations of a particular sport. And before them was the legendary Billie Jean King, who even beat out Bobby Riggs in the “Battle of the Sexes”.
Leading From The Front
The 2017 theme was “Honoring Trailblazing Women In Labor And Business”; these are ladies that have been successful in challenging women’s roles in the paid labor force and businesses. Although women have always been part of our workforce, they are often been underpaid and undervalued. One well known example was popularized by the movie “Norma Rae”, which was based on events in the life of Crystal Lee Sutton. She was a strong labor leader who fought for unionizing as a way to gain better working conditions.
Here are ways we can continue to commemorate women’s history:
- Involve yourself with female supporting groups that empower girls and women
- Create a brand-new book or movie club on-line, or join an existing one
- Treat a special lady that you receive inspiration and friendship from to a mocha latte, lunch, or bouquet of flowers
- Invite female entertainers, speakers, writers, and other professionals to online events
- Utilize all social media outlets to encourage women
- Utilize intersectionality to understand women of all walks of life
- Take an online class that highlights women’s history
- Help involve children and teens in art, writing, performing, and reading women’s history related material
- Support STEM/STEAM initiatives targeted at encouraging young women in science and creative pursuits
- Write a play, article, song, book, or poem about women, or read one
Color Purple And White
Let’s all wear purple, the international color which symbolizes women, and white, which represents women’s suffrage, to highlight those ladies who have contributed and continue to do so. We will keep using our voices for the advancement of female equality. For more information, visit www.womenshistorymonth.gov. In the words of Elle Woods, “What? Like it’s hard?”