“American women of every race, class, and ethnic background have made historical contributions to the growth and strength of the Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways,” a 1987 congressional bill, which declared March as National Women’s History Month, stated.

History department chair Graham Warder, who primarily teaches courses about the United States Civil War period, stated that author Harriet Beecher Stowe comes to mind when thinking about prominent women in history.

“Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’, really changed Northern attitudes towards slavery, so even though women didn’t have the right to vote then, they had huge political effects,” Warder said.

Warder said gender is a lens historians use when looking at the past, as well as the influence of gender systems.

Warder also noted that history education has come a long way in regards to inclusivity.

“It’s such an old-fashioned way of doing history where the only people that count are male presidents and generals, and that doesn’t mean you can dismiss them, because they’re important and powerful, but you have to hear a wide variety of voices,” Warden said. “When I teach history I use a lot of primary sources, and having a wide variety of voices in those sources from the past is crucial to understanding the past.”

Warder also raised some questions about the concept of Women’s History Month and Black History Month. He said, “I do feel kind of uneasy about having a month because it kind of says, ‘Oh we do that just this month.’”

“We’re teaching about African Americans and women in every course that it’s relevant, and talking about issues of race and gender, it goes throughout all our curriculum, it’s not saved for just one month,” he explained.

Warder said that throughout history, there have always been reactionary movements to progress. “It’s always a struggle, and when there’s achievements, there’s always a backlash to those achievements,” he said.

He had a simple message to those seeking to prevent regressions in progress, “Be informed, and vote.”

Women’s and Gender Studies department chair Patricia Pedroza Gonzalez said while, historically, women’s stories haven’t been taught about enough in her view, it’s also important to share their current stories. “I’m a Women’s and Gender Studies teacher and I teach about this exclusion of women because I know women were excluded, of course,” she said. “We don’t learn a lot about women, but I don’t want to only learn about dead women and not discuss current issues right now, because it needs to be a balance.”

Pedroza Gonzalez remarked on the labor struggles in the early 20th century when women and girls experienced injuries and, at times, died because of unsafe working conditions.

“History – all the women [who] died in the factories that had no safety, that is the beginning, second, we commemorate all of them that died, but we commemorate everybody that opened the door for us,” she explained.

Pedroza Gonzalez said that while progress in the past has been stifled, she hopes that the regressions will be slowed. “I’m a Latina, so it’s like Salsa, so I hope that we advance one, two, three, four, five, and we regress by only one,” she said.

When it comes to advice for students in what some would consider a tumultuous time for women’s rights, Pedroza Gonzalez said self care is important.

“First, students need to breathe. Second, drink water…try to sleep well, truly get balance. It’s fundamental that we take care of our bodies,” she said.

“My feminist teacher once said, ‘Probably the patriarchal system was invented to kill us.’ No, we will be happy and healthy and that is the best revenge,” Pedroza Gonzalez stated.

Nathan Hope can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !