BY CAROLINE POWELL
Women’s History Month is an important time to celebrate and encourage the learning of women’s vital role in American history. Below is a list of some, but not all, well-known women who made an impact on women’s education, literature, LGBTQ+ rights, reproductive rights, voting rights and more.
- Writer and activist Maya Angelou, who made literary history with her novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings as the first nonfiction bestseller by an African-American woman.
- Malala Yousafzai, who survived a shot to the head after speaking out about women’s right to education and becoming the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at seventeen years old.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who worked as the first Jewish woman on the Supreme Court and protected many women’s rights, including the right to choose an abortion, the right to equal pay in the workforce and a woman’s right to serve on a jury.
- Marsha P. Johnson, who was a prominent figure of the gay rights movement as a self-identified drag queen known for her involvement in the Stonewall uprising of 1969 and advocating for HIV and AIDS awareness along with gay and trans rights.
- Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for voting as a woman in 1872 and continued to speak out for women’s suffrage, encouraging the path towards the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
The university posted a timeline showing a history of influential moments for women at the university. One woman worth noting is Emalea Pusey, the first woman to join the university’s Board of Trustees. Pusey is also notable for creating the university’s Women’s College. Kathryn Young Hazeur and Cora Berry Saunders were the first African-American women to receive graduate degrees from the university. Hauzeur went on to be an educator and the first director of Head Start, a program supporting low-income children, children with disabilities and homeless families with children to be well prepared to enter the school system in kindergarten in Wilmington public schools. Saunders was also an educator later in life and taught public speaking to her elementary students.
Hilda Davis was the first African-American woman to become a faculty member and helped establish and direct the Writing Center at the university. Mae Carter encouraged the establishment of the Office of Women’s Affairs and helped make Women’s Studies an academic department. She also worked as a counselor to assist young college women navigating the hardships and struggle that came with a college education as a woman.
The university offered a few events throughout March to celebrate the month, including past events at the Ida B. Wells Lecture and a discussion board for Black women-identifying faculty members and their experiences. This month, the university encouraged everyone to honor women in electrical and computer engineering.
The university continues to shine stories on women and their impact on campus, such as alumni Erin Rezich who works as an aerospace engineer at NASA designing and testing crucial equipment for research missions. Another alumni, Emily Christopher, founded the university’s chapter of Construction Engineers of America to work with students interested in mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering.
All of the women mentioned helped influence future generations and change society as a whole, on and off the university’s campus. Everyday, there are women to be celebrated. The month of March is not just for honoring well-known women, but also mothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, colleagues, teachers, nurses, doctors, firefighters and more. Being a woman means celebrating ourselves and each other, so let’s do exactly that!