In 1980, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter declared that the week of March 8th would be National Women’s History Week. This week-long event turned into a month-long celebration of women who built America.
Some historical figures we celebrate are women who built America, who fought for civil rights, and who were pioneers in their field:
- Sacagawea, who guided Lewis and Clark across the Louisiana Territory, all while carrying a baby on her back.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was one of the leading figures in the early Women’s Rights Movement.
- Madam C.J. Walker was the first self-made woman millionaire. She did this by launching her own hair product business.
- Marie Curie was a scientist who discovered Polonium and Radium. She also proved that atoms are not indivisible. Her work earned her TWO Nobel Prizes. Marie Curie is the first and only person in history to win two separate Nobel Prizes for two separate fields.
- Frances Perkins became the first woman Secretary of Labor in 1933. Frances pushed for laws that would protect workers like requiring a minimum wage, work-hour limits, and the legal age to work.
- Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress and she was the first Black woman to run for U.S. President.
- Maya Lin became a famous architect after she won a contest to design the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. She later designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
- Misty Copeland became the first Black woman to be named a principal dancer in the 75-year history of the American Ballet Theater.
It doesn’t stop there: women continue to pave the way to a better tomorrow!
- Vice President Kamala Harris, for example, is the first Black, and Southeast-Asian-American, woman Vice President of the United States.
- Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Indigenous women to be elected to Congress.
- Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
There are women today who are also breaking ground in STEM.
Meet Amy Beth Prager, a transgender woman who devotes her time to helping people in marginalized communities succeed despite their challenges.
Amy earned her Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University. She pursued her PhD in Math Education and Mathematics at Columbia University, and completed courses at Princeton University and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Amy is now an applied mathematician and computational scientist. She is also a researcher who focuses on barriers and inequalities in countries with higher education costs like the USA and the UK. Amy is currently the Outreach Director for ForHale, a nonprofit that uses data to make tools that will improve public health.
Amy passionately advocates for diversity and inclusion in education. Her biggest goal is to encourage young women and those in underrepresented groups to pursue a career in STEM. Amy herself experienced discrimination and observed discrimination throughout her studies. She took those observations and chose to challenge those barriers that are often present for people in underrepresented groups.
Over the years, Amy has been a guest speaker at programs with organizations she supports. She has spoken at conferences for Girls Who Code, Society of Women Engineers, and the Society of Advancing Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science. She also mentors young women who are interested in careers in STEM.
The work that Amy is doing will help bring resources to future generations of young girls who might be interested in STEM. With STEM being a male-dominated field, it can sometimes be scary to study it. But Amy knows that when more women choose to work in STEM-based fields, they will no longer seem scary. Amy’s example will inspire future generations to pursue a career in STEM, and that is how she is making a difference.