March 20, 2023
Women’s History Month is a celebration of women and their often-overlooked contributions to history, culture and society. This month-long observance corresponds with International Women’s Day (March 8), a holiday first sponsored by the United Nations in 1975. The first Women’s History Week was organized by the Sonoma County CA school district in 1978 and it eventually expanded to the legally recognized National Women’s History Month in 1987.
The month of March includes many women-focused dates and milestones. The first major suffragist march on Washington occurred on March 3, 1913. In March 1917, the National Women’s Party was formed to advocate for women’s right to vote in the United States. The Equal Rights Amendment was approved by the US Senate on March 22, 1971, but has never been ratified to this day. This amendment would guarantee equal legal rights for women in matters such as divorce, property ownership, and employment. Title IX of the Education Amendment was passed on March 1, 1972 and prohibits sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and sexual violence, in education programs and activities at federally-funded colleges and universities.
March 14 was Equal Pay Day, a date that symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. Currently, the gender pay gap is 84% for full-time workers and 77% for all workers (including part-time and seasonal). The pay gap is significantly smaller for white women than for women of color. As a result, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is July 27, Latina’s Equal Pay Day is October 5, and Native Women’s Equal Pay Day isn’t until November 30.
Celebrating Women’s History Month can be done in many ways. We are encouraged to buy from and support women-owned businesses, read books written by women, and engage with women-made movies and songs throughout the month and year. We should also spend time learning about global issues that affect women this month, especially regarding equal access to education, healthcare (including gender-affirming care), and career advancement.
We can educate ourselves about issues facing women in the combined industries of architecture, engineering and construction. In 2022, Epstein hosted a panel discussion featuring Latina architects and engineers interested in boosting the Latina demographic in the AEC industry. Read Arquitina's book “Latinas in Architecture: Stories of Raising the 1% One Latina at a Time” to see how you can support their efforts. The more we learn about women’s contributions and challenges, both past and present, the more we can support people of all genders and develop equity and equality for everyone.