Celebrating Women’s History Month

North Wind Staff

This month, we celebrate Women’s History Month, a reflection on the many contributions of women who have influenced our society and changed our world.

In 1978, Sonoma County, Calif. enacted the first designated week-long celebration of women, and in 1981, Congress made it an official national celebration. By 1987, Women’s History Month was on the books.re-NWLogoSocialMedia

In America today, as opposed to 100 years ago, it is now commonplace for women to enter professions once exclusive to men. Women are leading Fortune 500 companies and now make up more than 30 percent of the medical and legal profession, as opposed to 10 percent of doctors in 1970 and 5 percent of lawyers.

In the world of science, women have made their mark time and again, from Caroline Herschel, who in the 18th and 19th centuries was practicing astronomy and discovered several comets, to Marie Curie, who sacrificed her life in the early days of radioactive theory, to Rosalind Franklin, who was instrumental in the discovery of DNA.

Gertrude Elion, a female physician, developed the groundbreaking HIV/AIDS drug AZT in the late 1980s, saving countless lives from a disease once considered a death sentence.

In literature, female writers have enriched our lives for centuries, like Jane Austen, who published “Pride and Prejudice” in 1813 or Mary Shelley, who wrote “Frankenstein” under a male pseudonym just to get published. In the turbulent 1960s, Harper Lee (who passed away Feb. 19) won the Pulitzer Prize for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which is still teaching children to love literature. Today, J.K. Rowling has enamored a generation of people young and old with the “Harry Potter” series.

Still, while leaps and bounds have been made in the last 100 years, there is much work to be done for women’s equality. According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, full-time
female workers made only 79 cents for every dollar men earned in the same position and earn less in virtually every single occupation.

In Congress, where almost 100 years ago women gained the right to vote, women hold a paltry 20 percent of seats compared to their male counterparts. For minority women, the margin is even slimmer.

While having a month to celebrate women’s history and achievement is great, and we should always remember the contributions of women to our society, it shouldn’t be taken as a sign that women have reached equality.