Celebrating Women's History Month

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Bailey Cavanagh
  • 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron
Many can easily identify who our first president was, who the first man on the moon was and even who the first African-American U.S. Supreme Court justice was.  Most of the commonly known milestone achievements are recognized to be accomplished by men, but what many are unaware of is that women have been making breakthroughs in history for over 300 years. 

We can look at women's accomplishments dated as far back as 68 B.C. when Cleopatra became Queen of Egypt at the age of 18 years old.  In the 1400s, Joan of Arc helped the French defeat the English.  In 1938, Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, along with colleague Otto Hahn, discovered nuclear fission.  Hahn combined uranium atoms with neutrons and produced barium, but was unable to explain how it happened.  Meitner had discovered that the nucleus split and had recognized that the energy output could be explained by Einstein's legendary equation E=mc2.  Women's achievements throughout history can be seen on a world-wide scale, but to bring it closer to home I am going to mainly focus on the United States' history pertaining to women.  

Over 300 years ago, in 1650, Anne Bradstreet wrote a book of poems called "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America."  This book was published in England and made her the first published American woman writer.  During the Revolutionary War, in order to fight, Deborah Sampson posed as a man.  In 1766, Mary Goddard and her mother became the first women publishers in America, and then in 1775 became the first women postmasters in the country.  Later in 1777, was Goddard's ultimate accomplishment when she was the first printer to offer copies of the Declaration of Independence that included the signers' names.  In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell was the first women in the U.S. to receive a medical degree. She later founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children in 1857, as well as founded the Women's Medical College in 1867.  Only 15 years later, Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to receive her medical degree.  A short five years later, Arabella Mansfield was accepted to practice law, making her the first woman lawyer.  Clara Barton was a nurse during the Civil War, and later founded the American Red Cross. It is argued that in 1897, H.H.A. Beach's "Gaelic Symphony" is not only the first symphony performed by a woman in the U.S., but in the world.  Marie Curie is best known for her two Nobel Prizes from her work with her husband on radioactivity and for discovering radium and polonium.   To this date, she remains the only person to win a Nobel Prize in multiple sciences.  In the year 1916, Jeannette Rankin of Montana, was the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.  About 50 years later, Jacqueline Cochran first broke the sound barrier in an F-86 Sabre fighter aircraft at a speed of 652.337 mph, and 11 years later she flew more than double the speed of sound at 1,429.2 mph.  Clara McBride Hale is the founder of the Hale House, which is a home for children with AIDS.  In 1983, Dr. Sally K. Ride was the first woman to go to space, and nine years later Mae Jemison became the first African-American female astronaut.  In 1989, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida became the first Hispanic female elected to congress.  Just last year, in January of 2014, the Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve Board, making her the first woman in this position.

The women above are simply a snap-shot of women's accomplishments throughout history.  Our lives have been paved by the achievements of all men and women alike.  Women's milestones are equally important in creating the stepping stones of our future.  March is a chance to appreciate and understand that women have played an important role in the past, still are an important role in the present and will remain an important role for our future.

Information for this article was found at www.factmonster.com, www2.lhric.org/pocantico/womenenc/timeline.htm, and www.realclearscience.com