In celebration of the motivated commitment of these inspiring women, we now celebrate Women’s History Month. The United States has observed it annually throughout the month of March since 1987. To learn more about other influential women in history and Women’s History Month, go to History.com here.
Motivation. There are two main types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic motivation is the outside factors that influence a person’s commitment to an endeavor, such as working really hard in a daunting history class because you want that “A” grade. Intrinsic motivation is a person’s interest in or gratification from in the task itself, such as being motivated to work hard in that history class because you love the subject matter. That being said, this blog isn’t directly about motivation, and I’m not going to tell you how and why you should be motivated.
This blog is an ode to some of the most intrinsically and extrinsically motivated women in history. Women who committed themselves to a cause greater than themselves, not simply looking for credit or a title (although I’m sure that contributed to the motivation of some), but because they believed they had the ability to be valuable agents in the fight for women’s equality. Though they lived in different decades, different countries, and different cultures, these women share two undeniable traits; the progress of women and the whole-hearted motivation they had to inspire progress for women in society. These motivated women changed society for the better. I hope they inspire you the way they have inspired us.
Lucretia Mott was one of the leading voices of the abolitionist and feminist movements of her time. Some would say the Susan B. Anthony took over where Mott left off. Mott’s feminist viewpoint was outlined in her Discourse on Women, a document in which she argued for equal economic opportunity and voting rights. More on Lucretia’s impact here.
Susan B. Anthony was a champion for the woman suffrage movement in the US. She was president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association for eight years. In 1872 Anthony voted in the presidential election illegally. She was arrested and ended up being fined $100, a fine that she never paid. Anthony died on March 13, 1906, with women still not having the right to vote. It wasn’t until 1920 that the 19th Amendment, giving all adult women the right to vote, was passed. Check out Susie B challenging Judge Ward Hunt in the USA vs. Susan B. Anthony, in which she was charged with illegally voting here.
Sojourner Truth was a prominent abolitionist and women’s rights activist. She was a commanding and passionate speaker who has left a legacy of feminism and racial equality that still echoes today. Truth is best known for her moving “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech, delivered at a in 1851. Check it out here.
Margaret Thatcher was the United Kingdom’s first and only female prime minister. She served from 1979 until 1990. Thatcher is the longest-serving British prime minister of the 20th century and was nicknamed the “Iron Lady,” as she fervently opposed Soviet communism and had no hesitation in fighting a war to preserve control of the Falkland Islands. She was eventually pressured into resigning by members of her own Conservative Party. You can find more on Margaret Thatcher here.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg was the second female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Bader taught at Rutgers University Law School before becoming the first female, tenured professor at Columbia University. She served as the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s and was named to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. As Justice, she argued for gender equality in many poignant cases. Check out more on Ruth Bader here.
Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. She is a moderate conservative, and has been known for her unemotional and scrupulous opinions. For 24 years, Sandra Day O’Connor was a pioneering force on the Supreme Court, and has paved the way for women in law. More on Sandra Day O’Connor here.
Rosie the Riveter, yes she’s a fictional character, but she represents so much more than one woman. American women entered the workforce at high rates during World War II. Between 1940 and 1945, the female percentage of the U.S. workforce increased from 27 percent to nearly 37 percent, and by 1945 nearly one out of every four married women worked outside the home. Rosie the Riveter was the leading light of a government campaign that targeted female workers for the munitions industry. She became the most iconic image of working women during the war, and still may be the most recognizable image of women in the workforce. Check out more about Rosie and the population she represented here.
For more about Women’s History Month, check out: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/teachers.html