By: Olivia Perron
On Aug. 18, 1920, women were legally given the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. From that day forward women began a full steam drive for equal rights. Over the course of 100 years, women have continued to make strides in breaking the glass ceiling put in place from the very start. Barbara Walters, Michelle Obama, Kim Janey, Kamala Harris, Aretha Franklin, and Carla Hayden are just a few of the many women who have significantly worked towards breaking that glass ceiling.
During Women’s History Month, Curry students and faculty shared thoughts on the progression that has been made for women’s rights and the changes they want to see happen for the future.
Congress established Women’s History Week in 1981 and it was celebrated for the first time in March 1982. Five years later, after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress established March as Women’s History Month.
“Women’s History Month is a month where we can honor all women who persevered through hardships caused by gender inequality,” Curry College junior Caelene Burnham said. “It encompasses all women of different races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, etc. It really allows unity through the whole women supporting women mindset.”
Women face challenges to this day, when it comes to the workplace and in everyday life. Each woman faces their share of setbacks and harassment from being female. Professor and Coordinator of Public Relations, Dr. Brenda J. Wrigley listed some of the challenges women face in the world today.
“Equal pay and equal opportunities to lead in organizations and in government are especially important,” Wrigley said. “Sexual harassment and sexual assault are still far too prevalent. Outdated notions of ‘proper’ gender roles also impede women from achieving their full potential.”
In 2006 Tarana Burke used the term “Me Too” as a way to bring awareness to women who had been abused. Ten years later the term went viral as the #MeToo movement exposed many powerful men who had been sexually harassing, abusing, and assaulting women for years.
Through #MeToo women have been given the opportunity to share their stories and hear others’ stories. Senior Michelle Ricci provided her own perspective on the movement.
“The idea that women are becoming more comfortable with sharing their stories is amazing to see,” Ricci said. “The movement has ensured that any victim of sexual assault does not feel alone.”
Women have watched as more positions of power have been filled by women, the most recent being, the first female Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. The progress of women filling positions of power leads to a change in perception.
“We need women in leadership positions so that girls can grow up knowing that they can be leaders,” Burnham said. “That it is OK to be authoritative, that they do not need to starve themselves to be successful, that they can make a difference. Women in leadership roles are just as important as seeing other genders in leadership positions as well.”
With progress occurring, women still want to see changes that haven’t happened. Women have made strides in the direction of permanent change, but it’s not there yet.
“I would like to see the Equal Pay Act updated to strengthen women’s ability to be paid fairly,” Wrigley said. “We’ve never been able to reach the finish line on the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) either. Those would be an excellent start!”
A century ago, after the 16th Amendment had been ratified, women’s jobs still focused on tending to children, and the home. From there, women worked in factories for wartime, which spurred many more women to seek jobs outside the home. Ever since, women have worked progressively more in the workforce.
“I want to see women dominate fields that have traditionally been dominated by males,” Ricci said. “I also want for there to be stricter rules all-around when it comes to how issues of sexual harassment are handled.”
Women’s History Month is about the importance of change, progress, and equal rights. Women have taken over positions that were once only known exclusively filled by men. As Women’s History Month, March signifies the steps taken by women as they progress towards completely shattering the glass ceiling.