Women’s History Month

Dr. Ashley Baggett answers questions about Women’s History Month

Photo Courtesy | Cassy Tweed

Dive into Woman’s History Month by participating in events. Everywhere from online news panels to free flowers, there are many ways to get involved and celebrate women.  

NDSU’s Special Events and Volunteer Network started off the week by handing out free flowers in the Union on Tuesday, March 8. When asked about how she felt about receiving a flower, one student claimed it brightened her day and brought her great joy.

Whether you participate in these events or not, remember how far women have come in the last century. Everywhere from gaining the right to vote to inventing life altering products such as the fire escape and windshield wipers. Happy Women’s History Month to all incredible women! 

In honor of Women’s History Month, Dr. Ashley Baggett, Associate Professor of History and Director of Women & Gender Studies, answered a few questions on the background of the celebratory month and gave her personal perspective on what Women’s History Month means to her.

Why is Women’s History Month important to celebrate?

Women’s History Month was a result of the efforts from the Women’s Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Part of the gender equality movement aimed at uncovering past women’s voices and their impact on history. 

Activists were creating curricula from scratch because the field of women’s history didn’t exist before then. Archival materials with the historical footprints of women were often ignored or not studied. Consequently, day/week/month in observance of women’s history served not only to recognize and celebrate the vital role of women but also encourage the study of women in history.

 In 1980, a newly-formed organization, the National Women’s History Project (now the National Women’s History Alliance), pushed for national recognition, which resulted in President Jimmy Carter signing a proclamation for the first “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, Congress passed Public Law 100-9, which authorized the president to proclaim March as “Women’s History Month” and called for activities and ceremonies in recognition of women who are, “consistently overlooked and undervalued” in shaping our country. Since then, each year the president issues a proclamation marking March as Women’s History Month. The 2022 one is here.

What does this month mean for women?

There are multiple meanings. For many, Women’s History Month demonstrates women’s history is American history. It validates the critical role of women in our nation’s history and recognizes women’s history as a necessary field of study. I’ve actually had people ask why I study women’s history because it’s not “real” history, so this is an issue. 

It’s important to study the past of everyone because the history of women, of people of color, of LGBTQIA+ folks — that is American history. WHM also allows for honoring women in our past and their impact on the present. Lastly, WHM raises awareness about the continued inequalities women face, particularly women of color and LGBTQIA+ folks, to serve as a call for full equality.

What does this month mean to you?

I’m partial because I love researching and teaching women’s and gender history. I remember the first time being taught women’s history as more than, “here are a few famous women.” It was my “light bulb moment” because here was the other half of history, and at that point, I could understand history as a whole as well as the need to recover marginalized voices from the past. There is a saying, “Our history is our strength.” We study history for a number of reasons, one of which is that history teaches us who we are and where we come from. It can inspire us and give hope in overcoming adversity. That’s the power of history. 

A Conversation with Chanel Miller

The NDSU WGS program is hosting “A Conversation with Chanel Miller” held from 6-7 p.m. on March 30. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.

Chanel Miller is a writer and artist who received her B.A. in Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her critically acclaimed memoir, “Know My Name”, was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner, as well as a best book of 2019 in Time, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, NPR and People, among others. She is a 2019 Time Next 100 honoree and a 2016 Glamour Woman of the Year honoree under her pseudonym, Emily Doe, according to NDSU’s College of Humanities and Arts web page. 

Miller will read from her memoir, “Know My Name”, speak on the topic of empowerment and healing and answer questions at the end of the program.

Leave a Reply