“Every time a girl reads a womanless history, she learns she is worth less.”
- Myra and David Sadker in Failing at Fairness: How America’s Schools Cheat
March is National Women’s History Month. “Why do we have a Women’s History
Month and not a Men’s 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 deals with 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
With that in mind, in 1978 Women’s History Week was begun by a group of
educators in Sonoma County, California. By 1987, Congress declared a resolution
making March National Women’s History Month. A declaration was signed by
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. Of the 100 Senators, only nine are women. (In California and
Maine, both Senators are women.) Of the 435 members of the House of Representatives,
only 56 (13%) are women.
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 Sadkers’ opening quotation:
Every time a boy reads a womanless history, he learns that women are worth
less. Don’t we want both our girls and our boys to value women and their
place in our society?
This column has been incorporated into Teach Your Children Well: A Teacher’s
Advice to Parents.