While many of us may be aware that March is Women’s History Month, not many of us (including myself) may have been aware of its origins. So I did a little digging.
According to the Library of Congress, “Women’s History Month had its origins in 1981 when Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as ‘Women’s History Week.’ As requested by Congress, President Reagan issued Presidential Proclamation 4903 proclaiming the week beginning on March 7, 1982 as the first "Women’s History Week" and recognizing the vital role of women in American history.”
Looking back at President Reagan’s original proclamation, I was struck by how the language about leadership by women, both in the workplace and in society at large, still rings true:
American women of every race, creed and ethnic background helped found and build our Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways. As pioneers, teachers, mothers, homemakers, soldiers, nurses and laborers, women played and continue to play a vital role in American economic, cultural and social life. In science, business, medicine, law, the arts and the home, women have made significant contributions to the growth and development of our land. Their diverse service is among America's most precious gifts.
As leaders in public affairs, American women not only worked to secure their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity but also were principal advocates in the abolitionist, temperance, mental health reform, industrial labor and social reform movements, as well as the modern civil rights movement. Their dedication and commitment heightened awareness of our society's needs and accelerated our common efforts to meet those needs.
Women in the workplace often strive to make the next steps in our career whether that is building our own businesses, expanding our networks, establishing our brand, or any other number of professionally oriented goals. Women in the workplace of today are also leaders and advocates in other areas of society beyond the world of business- just think about women from Oprah Winfrey to Sheryl Sandberg to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
However, what struck me more was the idea that women are impacting their field, business, and society at large in “unrecorded” ways, and that these are perhaps even more impactful. Certainly women have made significant “recorded” contributions to society and their business- such as Madeleine Albright becoming the first female secretary of state or Kathyrn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Director. For most of us, however, our impact on society falls more into the category of “unrecorded” acts of leadership and service. Not all of us will write a novel, appear on the news, or be awarded with recognition on a televised award show (even if we wish that were true!), but we still honor the proclamation of President Reagan through “unrecorded” acts of leadership and service.
These “unrecorded” acts are significant contributions and the foundation of our role as women in society. This leadership and service can come in many forms, from involvement with a local charity, work in our church or religious organization, service to our alma maters, and just daily mentoring and support of others in our industry or business. It is these same “unrecorded” successes that grow and develop society at large. As such, we should remember to give each other, and ourselves the good ol’ “pat on the back” for all the “unrecorded” ways we are making real contributions and changes to our economy, our culture, and our society, and keep the tradition alive.
We recognize the immeasurable value of women leaders supporting other women in the workplace through example, mentorship, education and empathy. We hope you enjoy our tidbits of legal and practical information, wisdom, and humor. Thanks for joining the conversation!