March is Womenís History Month

 
        "Every time a girl reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less." - Myra and David Sadker in Failing at Fairness: How Americaís Schools Cheat Girls.

        March is National Womenís History Month. "Why do we have a Womenís History Month and not a Menís History Month?" asked one of my first-graders, a six-year-old boy. The question is fair enough -- and food for thought.

        Academic reviews have shown that most United States history books in our country have less than 11% of their content that pertains to women. As a result of this, students - boys and girls alike - can understandably draw the conclusion that women have been passive and non-participatory throughout history.

        With that in mind, a group of educators in Sonoma County began Womenís History Week in 1978. By 1987, Congress declared a resolution making March National Womenís History Month. President Reagan signed the proclamation.

        Since then, the history of women in our society has been moved to a place where it has not been before: as in integral part of the school curriculum and in the forefront of the minds of many more people.

        We have quite a way to go if we are looking for parity on the national level. Women are 52% of our population; that should be reflected in our Congress. In the 107th Congress, thirteen of the 100 Senators are women. (In California and Maine, both Senators are women.) Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives, 61 (14%) are women. Five of the fifty states have women governors.

        Who are the women who most influenced you? It would be valuable to both sons and daughters to talk about these women - whether they were famous or not - and their character traits that affected your life.

        In conclusion, I propose a corollary to the Sadkersí opening quotation: Every time a boy reads a womanless history, he learns that women are worth less. Donít we want both our girls and our boys to value women and their place in our society?

  
This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents.

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