March 8th is International Women’s Day – “a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future”. On March 8th and the weekend before, thousands of events are held throughout the world to celebrate women’s achievements and highlight global issues concerning women and girls. This year is extra special as it’s the International Women’s Day Centenary – the 100 year anniversary!
The International Women’s Day event calendar provides a database of events across the planet. The event I am most interested in, but not in the original schedule, is the Egyptian women’s plan for a Million Women March.
March is also Women’s History Month. This celebration was initially inspired by the March 8th 1857 protest by women factory workers in New York City over working conditions. As a consequence, International Women’s Day was first observed in 1909. It wasn’t until 1981 that Congress established National Women’s History Week in the U.S. to be commemorated the second week of March and expanded it in 1987 to cover the entire month.
Below I highlight some of our blogs on women’s contributions to engineering, computer science and entrepreneurship.
Mary Kies was the first woman to receive a U.S. patent. There were many women inventors before her, but prior to the Kies patent U.S. Patent law would not let women own a patent, or property for that matter
Patricia Galloway, first female president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), blogs on Elsie Eaves – first female engineer in ASCE to be elected as a full member on March 14, 1927.
Lucy Sanders, CEO of the Center for Women in Information Technology blogs on the unveiling of the ENIAC on February 14, 1946, the world’s first digital electronic computer, as well as on the contributions of women in computing.
Jasmina Vujic, Chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of California at Berkeley, blogs on Lise Meitner and her groundbreaking publication that first introduced the world to nuclear fission on February 11, 1939.
Chad-Eric Montgommery blogs on two African American women. On March 1, 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first African American woman to receive a medical degree. Also see the blog on Sara Breedlove Walker, the first self-made millionairess hair product inventions for African American women.
Check out Michael Smith blog’s on Josephine Cochrane’s patent for the first commercially successful dishwasher on December 28, 1886.
I enjoyed researching the blog for November 13, 1913 Mary Phelps Jacobs invents modern bra. And also for the one on Dr. Mary Walker, the first female army surgeon to be awarded the Medal of Honor on November 11, 1875. Mary Kies was the first woman to receive a U.S. patent, on May 5, 1809. My daughter blogs on Florence Rena Sabin as the first woman to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences on April 25, 1925.
This year we can celebrate Ruth Handler’s invention of the Barbie doll, now that the first Barbie computer engineer has been announced.
Check out the Engineering Pathway‘s many educational resources on women in engineering, women in information technology, women inventors and gender equity. One of my favorite resources is FairerScience, with practical advice on how to develop gender equitable classrooms and practices in math, science and engineering. We also have community groups in engineering diversity and broadening participation in computing portal.
For a more indepth analysis of the issues associated with gender equity in our faculties and recommended solutions, read our “most commented” resource – the National Academies’ Beyond Bias and Barriers report. My editorial on the report was published in ASEE Prism, November 2006, vol. 16 (3). During the last presidential election both the Obama and McCain commented on the report and other issues concerning women in science and technology during the election. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions as well.
Also on this date – March 8, 1775 – Priestley discovers oxygen through experiments with mice.