#Throwback Thursday: “Peace is a Woman’s Job” and Republican Motherhood

November 7th, 2013

By: Emily McAfee, NWHM Intern

On this day in 1916, Jeannette Rankin was elected to the House of Representatives, becoming the first U.S. congresswoman. She represented Montana twice: from 1917-1919 and from 1941-1943. In Congress, Rankin was known for her pacifism. She was one of just 50 members of Congress to vote against entry into WWI in 1917, and the only Congressperson to oppose declaring war on Japan in 1941. This gave her the distinction of being the only person in Congress to vote against both world wars.

Rankin was a proponent of female participation in the government and the public sphere. This post will examine how Rankin advocated for this progressive cause by drawing on more conservative rhetoric: in particular, the argument of “Republican Motherhood.”

The phrase “Republican Motherhood” was developed in the late 20th century by historians to name a particular opinion about women’s roles that was influential from the colonial era through the early 20th century. It described the notion that motherhood was a civic duty, and that women’s primary responsibility was to impart ideals of republicanism onto the next generation. It imbued women’s work in the private sphere—childrearing, in particular—with meaning and significance to the nation, thereby rendering women’s political activism and work beyond the home superfluous. Read the rest of this entry »

Huffington Post Article: “Women, Unmarried Voters Key To McAuliffe’s Virginia Victory”

November 7th, 2013

The Huffington Post |  By

Check out the original article.

women mcauliffe victory

Virginia Gov.-Elect Terry McAuliffe (D), campaigns at the State Theater in Falls Church, Va., last month. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) | AP

Women and unmarried voters played a crucial role in Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe’s surprisingly narrow win in the Virginia governor’s race over Republican state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli.

Polls throughout the race found Cuccinelli, a tea party-backed social conservative, lagging among women. While final exit poll results weren’t yet available, data late Tuesday showed McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by 9 percentage points among women, 51 percent to 42 percent. Cuccinelli had a 3-point lead among men, 48 percent to 45 percent.

The division along the lines of marital status was especially stark.

Cuccinelli was ahead among married people of both genders, with a 6-point lead among married men and a 9-point lead among married women. But unmarried voters, especially women, preferred McAuliffe by wide margins. He beat Cuccinelli by 25 points among unmarried men and 42 points among unmarried women. Unmarried voters made up about a third of Tuesday’s electorate, according to polls. Read the rest of this entry »

Many Successful Women Plagued by the Imposter Syndrome

November 6th, 2013

A recent article from slate.com explores the disturbing trend of successful women in the workplace being more likely to think of themselves as less competent and worthy of the success they have achieved–a phenomenon known as imposter syndrome.

Do Women Everywhere Suck at Their Jobs?

184794261 Sheryl Sandberg, fake COO of a fake Internet company called Fakebook.

Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for FORTUNE

In the age of Lean In and female breadwinners and the polysemy of the work stiletto, we are all thinking a lot about professional women. And professional women are thinking a lot about themselves: In Pacific Standard, Ann Friedman looks at impostor syndrome, the phenomenon by which high-achieving careerists feel unqualified for their jobs, regardless of the positive feedback they earn. Impostorism is “a nervous undercurrent that runs through your day-to-day experience, unacknowledged, only to crop up in salary negotiations or in small phrases like, ‘It might just be me but….’ or ‘Not sure I know what I’m talking about,’ ” Friedman writes. While it is prevalent in women, it occurs in men too, especially minorities who fear they owe their success to affirmative action.

A lot of columnists have taken on impostor syndrome, to the point where a template has emerged. The writer leads with a shocking example (World Health Organization chief Dr. Margaret Chan thinks she’s a fraud! So did Sheryl Sandberg! So do three-quarters of Harvard Business School students!) and then offers up some facts (the informal impostor syndrome diagnosis goes back to a 1978 paper by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, who observed symptoms in more than 150 lady professionals). Questions are posed: What makes the modern workplace such a confidence desert? Are professional expectations unreasonably high? (“Wanted: a gifted communicator with fresh ideas, a stellar work ethic, mastery of all Microsoft and Internet technologies from 1970 until now, a pleasant demeanor, a proven track record in everything and anything, and no stinky lunches.”) Or do we all just suck at our jobs? Read the rest of this entry »

This Is What Inspires Girls In STEM

November 4th, 2013

Check out this fantastic article from the Huffington Post about what inspires girls in in the area of STEM.

The Huffington Post |  By

A question like that brings to mind clichés more fitting at a beauty pageant. Yet when you ask a STEM girl, the responses might well cause you to straighten up and pay attention.

The Huffington Post posed this question to the applicants of our Girls In STEM Mentorship Program. More than 1,000 young women responded to our call-outs last December, and amid all the different names, ages, locations, career motivations and educational backgrounds, we were blown away by the deep purpose each applicant found in her studies and future career.

So in celebration of International Day of the Girl Child and the quest to empower young women everywhere, we’ve compiled some of our favorite responses to this question in the following list. Hopefully they inspire you like they’ve inspired us.
What inspires you? What inspires your pursuit of STEM?

“Seeing my work impact a person’s life, no matter how small the action. I know my thoughts can transform into action.” – Phyllis, 21, Aspiring pharmacist

“I find the the research towards finding an AIDS vaccine fascinating.” - Taryn, 14, Aspiring Orthopaedic/Neurological surgeon

“My whole life, all I ever dreamed about when growing up is to help somebody in a powerful way. I want to make lives better or help move society forward to a future with less misunderstandings and ignorance. Women have been doing this throughout history, and if I could do something just half as good as them, I would be more than satisfied.” – Florencia, 20, Interested in a career in health physics

amy atwater
“It is interesting to learn about how everything comes together to create life and how life is sustained through these processes.” - Danielle, 19, Interested in research and lab work

“Showing a sixth grade girl how to use a dissecting microscope for the first time. Watching her get more excited about wearing gloves and goggles than whatever is in the dish.” - Jane, 21, Aspiring Genetics researcher Read the rest of this entry »

#FoodieFriday: What would you do for a modern dream kitchen?

November 1st, 2013

by Elissa Blattman, Project Assistant

In an earlier Foodie Friday post, we explained how 20th Century kitchen appliances and food creations made women’s lives easier.  Take a look at this 1955 video entitled, “A Word to the Wives.”  In it, two women conceive of a plan to trick one of their husbands into getting a new modern kitchen.  What would you do to get the latest modern conveniences?

THE “PLOT”:

  • Jane is at her new neighbors’ house.  The neighbor is ecstatic over her wonderfully modern kitchen.  Jane is depressed.
    The neighbor tells Jane she should buy a new hat to make herself happier.
  • Jane tells the neighbor she cannot go shopping because she does not have a “dream kitchen” and, therefore, does not have time for pleasure.  She says she asked her husband, George, multiple times to move to a more modern house but George did not consider it seriously.
  • Neighbor says she needs “freedom from the unnecessary drudgery” of cooking and cleaning in an outdated kitchen.  She suggests that when Jane goes away for the weekend to visit her mother, she leaves work for George to do himself (i.e. not planning out meals ahead of time for her family).  If George has to do the housework himself, he might indeed get Jane the modern conveniences she has been wanting.
  • Jane agrees.
  • George makes a mess of the stove when trying to cook rice, has no ice cubes for his lemonade, spills garbage all over the floor, has no hot water to do the dishes, and cannot even open his own kitchen cabinet.  He gets very frustrated, and ends up yelling at their son and banging on things.
  • Jane and George go to neighbor’s house for a dinner party.  Neighbor explains to George how helpful having the latest kitchen is and tells him she even had time to play golf before getting everything ready for the party.
  • George discusses getting his own modern kitchen with the salesperson who got the neighbors their kitchen (he is also a guest at the dinner party).
  • Jane and George move into their own new “dream house.”
  • Plot is successful!

Join in on the conversation!  Post comments below, on Facebook, or Tweet us @womenshistory using the hashtag #FoodieFriday.

A History of Halloween

October 31st, 2013

By: Katherine Dvorack, NWHM Volunteer

Long before it was the mass marketed, slightly kitschy but always fun holiday we know and love today, Halloween was an ancient Celtic festival to the dead known as Samhain. The most important holiday on the Celtic calendar, Samhain marked the day when the veil between the living and the dead was at its weakest and the souls of those who passed during the year would journey to the underworld. Celebrated with bonfires and crop sacrifices, the festival marked the end of summer and the beginning of a long winter.

As with many pagan holidays, in an effort to convert Celts to Christianity, Samhain was appropriated by the Catholic Church in the early first century A.C.E. and renamed All Saints Day. But despite the Church’s best efforts, many of Samhain’s traditions and rituals remain. While the Church transformed the Celts’ pagan deities into malevolent spirits, people still left offerings for the dead and dressed up to appease the spirits. It was this mixing of beliefs that lead All Saints Day to become All Hallows Eve before finally becoming Halloween. Read the rest of this entry »

#Throwback Thursday: The Lizzie Borden Trial of 1892

October 31st, 2013

By: Emily McAfee, NWHM Intern

Happy Halloween from NWHM!

Yearning for a spooky tale from the annals of American women’s history? Look no further than the gruesome (and yet-unsolved!) double homicide that took place at the Borden household in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1892. You may have heard of the case through a famous old nursery rhyme:

Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.

The rhyme embellishes a bit, but you get the gist. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew Borden and his wife Abby were found dead in their home, both crushed by the blows of a hatchet, 11 and 19 times respectively.

Andrew Borden’s 32-year-old daughter, Lizzie, was present in the house at the time of the murders. She was arrested a week later. Although Lizzie was acquitted (in fact, Massachusetts eventually elected to not charge anyone with the murders), her name remains inextricably linked to the case, and she lived out the remainder of her life as a shunned member of the Fall River community. Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Halloween from NWHM!

October 31st, 2013

How did Halloween make its way to the United States? And how did our foremothers and their families practice it? Find out in A History of Halloween, which explores the ancient origins of the holiday, as well as its origins and early practices by women at the turn of the 20th century America.

NWHM Mentioned in Huffington Post Article

October 29th, 2013

By Natalie Pace, Huffington Post

What Do Devious Maids and Family Guy Have in Common?

Seth MacFarlane and Brianna Brown use their star power to preserve history for posterity.

What do Devious Maids and Family Guy have in common? Beyond the obvious hitmaking gene, the people behind these beloved brands just threw two of the most inspiring parties of the year.

Anytime you can mix a joke or two, with a drink or two and a good cause or two, if I’m allowed in, I’m there. Thankfully, this week I was fortunate enough to be on the list for An Evening with The John Wilson Orchestra and a cocktail fundraiser for The National Women’s History Museum, thrown by Seth MacFarlane (creator of the hits Family Guy, American Dad!, Ted and more) and Brianna Brown (star of Devious Maids), respectively. These two celebrities, and the talented people in their inner circle, are creating far more than the best comedy on television. They are both reaching back into the past and resurrecting great stories and songs for us to enjoy today, which, without their efforts, might never be heard again.

John Wilson, maestro and conductor of The John Wilson Orchestra, loves old show tunes, but when he decided to put together a 100-piece orchestra to play them, he discovered that the scores were missing. Even Cole Porter’s “You’re Sensational,” originally arranged by Nelson Riddle, had to be reconstructed. Thanks to John Wilson’s arduous sifting through orchestra sheets and his astute ear, and Seth MacFarlane’s passion and support of the project, the world can now enjoy That’s Entertainment! A Celebration of the MGM Film Musical. The DVD features sing-along tracks to tunes like “I Got Rhythm,” “Singing in the Rain,” Love is Here to Stay” and much more. And yes, that is Seth MacFarlane crooning with the best of them on a number of the tracks.

Seth MacFarlane’s Evening with the John Wilson Orchestra and the Moonshine Lounge celebration was the best party I’ve ever been to. Truly!

The National Women’s History Museum is determined to exhume and display the stories that have been buried in the basement for centuries. As one example, Sacagawea was the guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition. History books acknowledge that, without her, the trek was doomed, so should her invaluable contribution earn her star billing in the name of the expedition? What about the woman who dressed up as a man to fight in the Revolutionary War? Shouldn’t we know her name? Read the rest of this entry »

NWHM had its 2nd Annual LA Event on Oct. 24th

October 29th, 2013

NWHM’s Los Angeles Regional Committee hosted its 2nd event in LA on Thursday Oct. 24th where it honored Grammy, Oscar and Tony-Award Winning Actress Rita Moreno, Actress and Activist Fran Drescher and the United Nation’s Girl Up program which provides girls around the world with life-changing opportunities.  The event was held at Mr. C Hotel. Check out some of the photos from the event below: