“Well behaved women seldom make history.”
This well-worn adage is no doubt true, but so too is its opposite. History is written for a purpose and, all too often, that purpose is to justify the status quo as a historical inevitability. Those women and men who defy the expectations of their time, who fight too often and too well against the injustices of the day, are mysteriously forgotten by those who write our history. In this way, women’s contributions to and leadership of the organized labor movement, though lionized within the movement itself, have largely escaped public consciousness.
Indeed, women led the battle for industrial democracy — even before they won the right to vote.
Perhaps the best known labor leader is Mother Jones. Born Mary Harris, Jones was an Irish immigrant who lost her husband and all four of her children to yellow fever and didn’t begin her advocacy until her 50s.
But as the Industrial Revolution took hold, as wages fell to subsistence levels, and men, women, and children worked long hours in dangerous conditions she began organizing — and continued to do so well into her 90s. She traveled up and down the country, persuading miners and …
Women’s History Month isn’t just a time to recognize achievements made throughout the decades to advance women’s rights and demand equity. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate women making history today, the ones in our unwritten history books.
For example, U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson, if confirmed, will be the first Black woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. Judge Jackson, a former clerk for retiring Justice Stephen Breyer, graduated from Harvard Law School and served as a federal district and appellate court judge in Washington, D.C. Before serving as a judge, she worked for two years as a federal public defender, a vitally important role and an experience that few judges share. Indeed, she would be the first Supreme Court justice to ever have held such a position.
Shalanda Baker, a Member Scholar on leave …
Change is a natural phenomenon, though it is often met with resistance and skepticism. Women, who are responsible for countless social, cultural, political, scientific, and economic achievements that have shaped the world, have stood in the face of such resistance, particularly when confronted with unequal opportunity and rights.
International Women’s Day celebrates the changes made by women and calls for action to accelerate women’s equality. This year, International Women’s Day notes that a challenged world is an alert world, and from challenge comes change.
At the Center for Progressive Reform, the women on our staff “choose to challenge” existing norms so that we may create a just America that works for all people and our planet. Below, our women staff describe what motivates them to work for all Americans.
Maggie Dewane, Digital Media Manager — My mother worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for …