Who Run The World?

Who Run The World?



Girls. Women truly do make the world go ‘round. From childbirth to running presidential campaigns, women take on some of the hardest and most subtle aspects of life. Women make up about 50 percent of the world’s population, but their representation in history does not reflect these numbers. To celebrate historic women, their accomplishments and continue to strive for future equality, the United States celebrates Women’s History Month every March.

History was written by men — literally and figuratively. Over the decades women have been oppressed and persecuted through legislation and social norms.

While woman have constantly fought for freedom and equal rights — like the suffragette movement in the 1920s and the feminist marches of the 1970s — men have controlled the story since the beginning.

“Every month is men’s history month,” said Dr. Annette Parks, a professor in the History Department. “Women’s history has sort of been tacked on at the end.”

Originally designated as Women’s History Week beginning on March 7, overlapping with International Women’s Day on March 8, Women’s History Month started in 1987 after petitions by the National Women’s History Project.

While it began as a time to address important women’s rights issues, Women’s History Month has largely become a corporate holiday filled with pink social media posts and ironic “nasty woman” apparel.

Parks said that while celebrating women during March is important, the month’s activism roots must not be discarded.

“It has gone from this radical thing for rights to a corporate happy, touchy-feely day,” she said. “It’s all pleasant and non-confrontational. You would never guess the kind of issues that sit behind it because it’s become sanitized.”

Many citizens, including some feminists, believe that the battle for women’s rights is over now. They believe that we live in a more free and equal society than before. But, the current political climate is full of negative opinions and threats to women’s basic rights.

A 2018 study published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found that a total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed and 58 percent were murdered by intimate partners or family members. Additionally, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated that one in five women compared to one in 71 men will be raped in their lifetime.

Parks said equal pay acts have been circulating in the government since 1963, but women still don’t have equal pay — an issue broken down even further when considering race.

“Women’s history month stands as a reminder that it’s not over,” Parks said. “We can’t just get the rights and be done with it.”

Even celebrating women’s history month, people barley see the tip of the iceberg. How many influential women from history can you name? Betty Friedan or Gloria Steinman? Maybe Aretha Franklin?

Whether you can name two or 10, the number of women is a lot less than men in terms of the big movers and shakers of history. Combined with activism and celebration, remembrance and awareness must be included as a key factor in Women’s History Month.

Parks said without knowing or understanding the women’s stories behind some of history’s greatest moments, such as landing on the moon, our view of history and Women’s History Month will never be complete or beneficial.

“Let’s celebrate what we’ve done before and recover women lost to history, but at the same time understand it is our job to push forward as well,” she said.

Katherine Johnson

Nasa.gov describes Katherine Johnson as a trailblazer and champion of STEM education and human spaceflight. In reality, the scientist and activist was so much more.

Honored in the bestseller and hit movie, “Hidden Figures,” Johnson was an African American NASA mathematician who stood for racial and sexual equality. Born in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia in 1918, she graduated with honors from West Virginia State College in 1937.

Johnson worked in NASA’s modern Langley Research Center in 1953. Johnson used a simple pencil, slide rule and her brain to calculate the detailed trajectories needed to get Apollo 11 on the moon and back in 1969.

Over the course of 33 years, Johnson worked under the radar on several space missions including Alan B. Shepard Jr.’s flight in 1961 and John Glenn’s first orbit around Earth.

Despite going unrecognized for her contributions for decades, Johnson was officially recognized by President Barack Obama who awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

NASA also gave her credit when they dedicated the Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility building in 2017. Johnson was the only woman from the Hidden Figures story still alive to see her achievements acknowledged.

After a long life of success in the field and happiness at home, the 101-year old died on Feb. 24, 2020.

Rosalind Franklin

DNA determines our appearance, our traits and even our health. But modern knowledge of DNA would not exist without British biophysicist and x-ray crystallographer, Rosalind Franklin.

Born in 1920, Franklin is known for her x-ray diffraction work in the early 1950s at King’s College London. Except — until many years later — Franklin wasn’t credited for the work at all.

Franklin worked with physicist Maurice Wilkins who had originally started x-ray crystallographic techniques when she joined his project. That same year scientists James Watson and Francis Crick were developing a theory about the molecular structure of DNA.

Using x-rays, Franklin managed to capture photographs of DNA’s structure, revealing the double-helix we know today. She shared her findings with Wilkins, who ultimately showed them to Watson and Crick without her knowledge.

In 1953, Crick and Watson published their double-helix structure discovery, which relied heavily on Franklin’s x-ray for evidence and models. The scientific community applauded Watson and Crick’s discoveries, with Franklin’s name not being included in the conversation.

As a result of her work with x-rays, Franklin died from ovarian cancer complications in 1958. Watson, Crick and Wilkins won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of DNA’s structure in 1962.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Also known as the ‘Notorious RBG,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has served on the Supreme Court since 1993. Famous for her activism, the 86-year old’s life was honored in the 2018 biographical drama, “On the Basis of Sex.”

Born in 1933 in Brooklyn, Ginsburg has also served on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and the American Civil Liberties National Board of Directors.

Ginsburg displays “Justice, justice, thou shalt pursue,” on the wall of her chambers and has embodied the Old Testament words in every part of her life.

From cultivating the minds of future professional woman while teaching at Rutgers University School of Law and Columbia Law School as the first tenured female professor, to writing the ACLU brief in Reed vs. Reed, a case which lead the Court to abolish the state laws that favored men over women as estate administrators, Ginsburg has had a consistent history of influencing, fighting for, and upholding women’s rights in America.

Jackie Mitchell

In the 1920s and 1930s, no names meant more to baseball than Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. But, at only 17 years old, Jackie Mitchell, the first woman to sign a professional baseball contract, struck-out the deadliest hitting duo in baseball history.

In 1931, Mitchell signed to the Chattanooga Lookouts, the city’s Class AA minor-league team. A week later, the Lookouts’ President, Joe Engel, booked two exhibition games against the Yankees.

The games stirred up a media frenzy that had largely disrespectful tones toward Mitchell. But, before a crowd of 4,000 fans and journalists, Mitchell replaced the Lookouts’ started, who surrendered hits to the first two batters, and history was made. When Mitchell walked the third batter, Tony Lazzeri, her manager pulled her from the game — which the Yankees won 14-4.

The pitcher went on to have a largely unnoticeable baseball career after the league commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, voided Mitchell’s contract and barred women from baseball for many years to come.

Alice Ball

Many people think of leprosy as an ancient biblical disease, but the ailment remained a medical issue well into the 20th century. Also called, Hansen’s disease, leprosy was a brutal skin condition that went largely untreated until a chemistry professor at the College of Hawaii, now University of Hawaii, discovered a revolutionary treatment.

Alice Ball’s discovery of a leprosy vaccine that minimized side effects and lessened patient’s pain would be used for more than two decades, significantly contributing to the decline of the condition.

Born in Seattle, Washington in 1892, Ball died at the age of 24 from chlorine poisoning. Ball was never able to publish her findings and her work was stolen by the college president, Arthur L. Dean, who released the vaccine all over the world.

Within the last 20 years, Ball, an African American woman, has received long-overdue credit for the treatment, now referred to as the “Ball Method.” The University of Hawaii placed a dedication plaque under its only chaulmoogra — the root of the oil used in her treatment —tree and posthumously presented her with the Medal of Distinction.

Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr was once a household name during her time as an American film actress. But the Austrian-born Lamarr, had more to offer the country than her beauty.

During her time in Hollywood, Lamarr, born Nov. 9, 1914, would experiment and tinker with various inventions between takes and acting responsibilities.

While dating pilot and fellow-inventor, Howard Hughes, Lamarr’s innovative mind flourished. She combined the fins of the fastest fish and wings of the fastest bird to sketch a new wing design for Hughes’ planes. She also created an upgraded spotlight and a tablet that created a soda similar to Coca-Cola when dissolved in water.

Lamarr’s greatest contribution by far was a communication system that used frequency hopping to prevent the interception of radio waves, allowing torpedoes to find their targets. Patented in 1942, Lamarr’s technology would not be utilized in World War II until the patent expired and copies of the system were made. Finally recognized with induction to the National Inventors Halls of Fame in 2014, Lamarr’s technology was the spark that ignited modern wireless communication, such as Bluetooth and GPS.

Ada Lovelace

While they are considered relatively new technology, a nineteenth century mathematician had the key to creating computers a century before their existence.

Ada Lovelace was born in 1815 with a passion for numbers and science. Privately tutored in mathematics, Lovelace was only seventeen when she was first exposed to a device called the analytical engine.

After getting married and having several children, Lovelace returned to her research and published a translation of a French article on the machine in 1843. The translation featured frequent notes added by Lovelace, which included the first description of sequences of operations for solving mathematical problems and her prediction of a machine that could compose “elaborate an scientific pieces of music.”

Referred to as “the first programmer,” Lovelace was the first person to understand the potential of computers and their abilities outside mathematics.

Chien-Shiung Wu

The Manhattan Project, a research and development initiative to create the first nuclear bombs during World War Two, is historically known as a male dominated undertaking, but Chinese-American scientists, Chien-Shiung Wu, played a significant role in the project.

Born in Shanghai in 1912, Wu joined the Manhattan Project at the Substitute Alloy Materials Lab at Columbia University. Her work largely focused on radiation detectors and she is best known for identifying and fixing dangerous problems in many of the key reactors.

After the war, Wu continued her career in nuclear science. She was the first scientist to confirm Enrico Fermi’s theory of beta decay, which occurs when the nucleus of one element changes into another element.

Also the first woman to serve as president of the American Physical Society, Wu has been awarded the National Medal of Science and the first honorary doctorate to a woman at Princeton University.

Marsha P. Johnson & Sylvia Rivera

The Stonewall Riots, one of the most famous events in the gay rights movement, are believed to have started after transgender women and activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera reacted to unfair treatment from local Police who were raiding the Stonewall Inn in New York City.

Both well-known transgender activists, both women are finally getting recognized for their activism with monuments across from the Stonewall Inn. Johnson, a black woman, and Rivera, a Latina woman, fought hard for their community and their achievements in a movement dominated by white gay men.

Johnson and Rivera met as children in New York City and remained friends throughout their lives. Together they founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, which provided young LGBTQ+ people support after being shunned by their families.

While their actions are hailed as heroic in today’s world, both women were targets of sexism, racism and homophobia in their day. Johnson died in 1992; her body was pulled from the Hudson River. While her death was ruled a suicide, many, including Rivera, question the authorities’ determination.

Rivera lived at a shelter for transgender people in Brooklyn until she died of liver cancer in 2002.

Ilhan Omar

Along with Representative Rashida Tlaib, Representative Ilhan Omar was the first Muslim woman to be inducted into Congress. Elected in 2018, Omar faces daily battles for her peers and citizens alike to recognize her contributions and qualifications.

The first Somali-American in Congress, Omar represents Minnesota’s firth district. She made history in 2016 when she became the first Somali-American elected to the Minnesota State legislature.

Despite carrying the weight of being first in so many positions, Omar displayed confidence and skill throughout all of her campaigns. Since winning her election and fighting for legislation and representation for many minority groups, Omar has become somewhat of a pop-culture sensation.

She has 1.9 million followers on Twitter and appeared in the music video for Maroon 5’s hit, “Girls Like You” in 2017. Still early in her life and career, Omar’s supporters continuing to increase and look forward to seeing her list of firsts grow.

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