As a teen, I thought history was only about presidents, generals and Henry Ford. Perhaps that had something to do with the textbooks in use back in the day. I didn’t realize the biographies I loved to read — Amelia Earhart was a favorite — also counted as history.
For more than thirty years, the National Women’s History Project has tackled the “important work of writing women back into American history.” March is National Women’s History month, and the theme for 2017 is “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business.” Let’s learn about some of those women. Here are a few titles to begin with:
“Grace and Grit” is Lilly Ledbetter’s story of working at Goodyear. After nineteen years as a manager, she discovered she was making forty percent less than men in the same position. She spent a decade seeking legal redress, sticking with the case all the way to the Supreme Court. Though she lost on appeal, her efforts led to the signing of the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
“The Good Girls Revolt” by Lynn Povich tells “How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace.” Povich went to work for Newsweek in the 1960s and found advancement opportunities there limited by her gender. In 1970, 46 female employees brought a class action lawsuit against the magazine for discrimination in hiring and promotion.
Women in many professions have made strides by joining together. In “Household Workers Unite” Premilla Nadason covers the organizing efforts of domestic workers from the 1950s to the 1970s. They formed unions, insisted on being treated as professionals and supported actions such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“Earning It” by Joann S. Lublin compiles life stories and lessons from more than 50 women who have climbed the corporate ladder successfully, reaching the upper echelons of management. Lublin herself is the management news editor for The Wall Street Journal.
Women who have created their own visions of success are represented in Grace Bonney’s book, “In the Company of Women.” Bonney interviewed 100 “makers, artists and entrepreneurs.” They talk about work spaces, business advice and childhood dreams. Interviews are accompanied by photos of the women and their work.
I was struggling with a concluding sentence for this post and realized the titles listed make a nice found poem:
With grace and grit
The good girls revolt
Household workers unite
In the company of women