February 23, 2011
Written by Audrey Rickel
March is National Women’s History Month, established by Congress in 1987 as an extended celebration of Women’s History Week and International Women’s Day.
Julie Willett, a Texas Tech University associate professor of history and U.S. women’s labor historian, said studying women’s history gives us a new way to look at the past and the future.
“Women’s History Month emerged out of necessity,” Willett said, “because of the basic assumptions that women hadn’t contributed much to history.”
Willett said people have a tendency to think that women have only recently become involved in the workplace, community, politics and athletics, but women were transforming politics and had a tremendous impact even before they had the right to vote.
“The beauty of women’s history is that it has redefined the meaning of history,” Willett said.
Women’s History Month allows us to look at old stereotypes that have been believed for many centuries, said Willett, so much so that sometimes it is difficult to realize there are other truths out there.
Willett said she would challenge others to think about the degree to which we still embrace stereotypes that keep us from recognizing the full potential of people.
“It’s just good to celebrate different people’s contributions,” Willett said, “both their struggles and their triumphs.”
Willett referred to the article “The End of Men” by Hanna Rosin, in which she describes present-day statistics, suggesting the number of women in the workplace and the number of women receiving college degrees outnumber men.
The growing importance of women’s history as a main area of study and the developing future of women’s history has motivated the Texas Tech history department to offer a second women’s historian to the staff.
Contact: Julie Willett, associate professor, Department of History, Texas Tech University, firstname.lastname@example.org, or (806) 742-1004 ext. 235.