Look How Far We Have Come
While sitting here thinking about March being Women’s History Month, it reminded me to look how far we’ve come.
The first thing that came to mind was I am only the second generation of women in my family to VOTE! My grandmother was not afforded that opportunity and it was a new experience for my mom. WOW! How much we take for granted.
Then I thought about women in colonial times. Women who did not have a voice. They did not have any legal rights. Men dominated all aspects of society and held all prestigious roles in religion, economics and government.
Colonial society of the 18th century was dependent on several social classes as well as geographical areas. In the South, the North and the mid-Atlantic the classes were the Gentry (the wealthiest and most educated), the middle class and the lower class. One’s social standing determined one’s political and legal rights, personal attire and even church seating.
Because of Women’s limited rights, hundreds of men and women met in Seneca Falls. New York on July 19-20, 1848 for the first Women’s Conference. While the convention served as the catalyst for the fight for Women’s Suffrage, the quest for Women’s rights continued for more than 100 years.
During World War II, women left their homes and kitchens to work in Defense Plants while the men were away at war. It was during this time that the Women’s Army Corps (WACs) was created to serve in noncombatant positions. These women became proficient in skills such as radio operators, electricians and air traffic controllers. When the war was over, these women continued to work in their newly found jobs but they continued to have limited rights. Single women had problems obtaining credit, credit cards, buying cars and property and definitely could not adopt children. As late as the 1980s and 1990s, women had to have their husband’s signature on their retirement papers and authorization for certain surgeries such as hysterectomies.
During the 1950s and 1960s, it was inappropriate for women to wear pants on some jobs, to church and in public buildings such as City Hall and Court rooms. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Mayor criticized a woman for wearing pants at the San Francisco City Hall, refused her service and told her to leave the building and come back when she was PROPERLY dressed. In addition, female teachers and girls could not wear pants to school.
WELL, JUST LOOK AT US NOW!!! Women are in top government positions, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE United STATES, heading large companies, piloting commercial airplanes, driving 18 wheelers across country and are chefs in major restaurants.
IN 2015, President Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson, an African-American mathematician whose calculations of Orbital Mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent United States crewed spaceflights. Two NASA buildings were named in her honor and in November, 2020, a satellite named for her was launched into space. In addition, on February 26, 2021, the NASA Headquarter building was named in honor of Mary W. Jackson, a mathematician and NASA’s first female Aerospace Engineer.
YES, WE’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY
BUT OUR JOURNEY IS NOT COMPLETE.