This month we acknowledge women throughout history who have made a difference in society and around the world. Each global celebration of Women’s History Month has a different theme, this year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” Some of these women were major symbols in our society and although they are deceased, their research and inventions still play a major role in 2013. Others have made an impact on the world and continue to do so today.
The History behind the Day
The observation of women’s history month occurred in 1981 when Congress approved Pub. L. 97-28 which called for President Regan to approve “Women’s History Week” as March 7, 1982. It took five years for Congress to designate “Women’s History Week.” During that time, The National Women’s History project sent requests to congress in hopes that March would be appointed “Women’s History Month.” In 1987, Congress finally gave in and passed Pub. L. 100-9 which finally approved it for March 1987. However, that observation was only in 1987. From 1988 to 1994, Congress continued to ask for the President’s approval of March as “Women’s History Month”. Starting in 1995, there are have been yearly declarations from Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama decreeing March as “Women’s History Month.”
This year more than 115 women were nominated to be featured during Women’s History Month. Out of those women, 18 were chosen to represent the STEM line of work and serve as great examples for a line of work in which women are inadequately represented. If you do not recognize their names, you will most certainly recognize their notability.
Here are a few honorees:
Hattie Elizabeth Alexander (1901 – 1968)
Pediatrician and Microbiologist
Alexander created the original medication for Haemophilus infuenzae which lessened the deaths related to it from almost 100% to fewer than 25%. She one of the primary scientists who recognized and researched antibiotic resistance, accurately finding that it’s origin was in “random genetic mutations in DNA.” Alexander was the first woman president for the American Pediatric Society.
Elizabeth Blackwell (1821 – 1910)
Elizabeth Blackwell, in the United States, was the first completely certified female doctor. Her sister Emily and she established the first women’s medical school which meant more women doctors and created harsher medical school criterion for all medical schools.
Susan Solomon (1956 – Present)
At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Solmon is the Ellen Swallow Richards Professor of atmospheric chemistry and climate science. Her major studies of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as the reason for the hole in the ozone layer “were part of the basis of the international treaty that has effectively regulated damaging chemicals.” She is recognized for her influential research which demonstrated how alterations in climate caused by the rise in carbon dioxide by humans will continue for thousands of years.
Patricia Era Bath (1942 – Present)
Ophthalmologist and Inventor
Bath created the Laserphaco Probe which was a great stride in the laser cataract surgical procedure. In 1976, she helped to establish the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness. The institute’s objective is to “protect, preserve, and restore the gift of sight.” Bath was also “the first African American woman doctor to receive a patent for a medical purpose.”
These women have played and will play an influential part in history. This month is not only about recognizing famous people who have STEM occupations. It is about recognizing all women who make a difference in the world and most importantly in your life. Think about the women who you believe are great role models, and make sure you commend them for their efforts.
~ Ali McFadden
“For what is done or learned by one class of women becomes, by virtue of their common womanhood, the property of all women.” – Elizabeth Blackwell