Women of the Past, Influencing Women Today

June 5, 2014
By , Jessup, MD
A great part of history was with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, when women gained the right to vote. With that came the freedom to change how women were viewed and portrayed. Later, the idea of affirmative action was introduced, which allowed women to have more opportunities to go to college and be part of the workforce. Formerly, jobs that women took were either jobs as secretaries, or jobs as teachers. Then, those jobs were regarded as unimportant and disposable. Soon, there came a flood of women who were aligned under the spotlight. Women started taking higher leadership roles in business, and therefore have become a greater influence in the workplace. Today, there are many opportunities for women to take on more influential roles in society. Women are positive influences on society and are seen as role models. Some women that lifted the social normal of the past are Hillary Clinton, Amelia Earhart, Juliette Gordon Low, Princess Diana, and Lady Bird Johnson.

As a young woman, Hillary Clinton had decided that her passion was for space exploration, and she applied to NASA’s astronaut program. She was astounded when she was denied, because of the fact that women were not accepted into the program at that time (First, Hillary). Because of this disappointing news, Hillary then decided to go to law school. While still in school she worked with many organizations, such as Children Defense Fund and Yale’s Child Study Center, where she researched about children’s brain development and children’s abuse cases (Sugarman). Her husband, Bill Clinton, ran for president in 1993. Once Clinton was elected, Hillary decided to not stand in the shadow of her husband, and took on an influential role as the first lady. She first worked on the Children Healthcare Reform to bring awareness and also get bills passed. She also worked with a program that gave mothers new books to read to their newborns and infants. Hillary helped to create the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women’s office which helped her share her passion for gender equality (First, Hillary). When After unsuccessfully running in the democratic primary for president, Hillary was appointed secretary of state by Obama in 2009. In her secretary of state tenure, she accomplished many tasks. She built relationships with other countries, and renewed old bonds. These bonds made it easier for the US to build foreign policy, American credibility, and national security (Sugarman). Overall, Hilary Clinton’s accomplishments represent the more modern role that women play in society.
In 1928, Amelia Earhart was the first woman to fly as a passenger across the Atlantic Ocean. Later in 1932, she would surpass her previous feat by being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean (Amelia). Earhart’s outrageous feats helped to expose women to the world of aviation. Amelia Earhart was a brave and strong willed woman. She fought for what she believed in and encouraged other women to break the social norms. In Amelia Earhart’s essay “Thrill” she writes about how women can do what they want to, even though they are still seen as inferior (Earhart, Thrill). She expresses her feelings of accomplishment when she had completed these feats that were so unimaginable to women, and expresses regret for the fact that most women will not have a chance to do something as out of the box as herself. This essay described what many women’s feelings of that time were; Women could perform unbelievable feats and make it to the top, but then they would still be judged and seen as inferior. In Earhart’s speech, “The Future of Women in Flying”, she discusses women’s traditional roles and the home-maker and the housekeeper. Earhart then goes on and talks about how aviation has lots of openings for women to work right alongside men as equals. She believes that aviation is a key to creating more jobs for women in science and engineering, which will definitely create opportunities for women to become successful. Amelia Earhart encourages women that they can do anything that men can do.
Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of Girl Scouts. She was first introduced into the Boy Scouts system when she met Sir Robert Baden-Powell (Founder). She was so into this combination of children’s development into Boy Scouts that she decided to create a girls program, similar to the Boy Scouts program, in the United States. Within this program, Low taught the girls not only survival and homemaking skills, but professional skills so that these girls could prosper in the business and social world (Girl). Girl Scouts helped to create attitudes in young girls of volunteerism and charity. It gives girls the opportunity to have their own ideas, and think independently in order to solve problems, and help others. Low was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom which is the highest award that can go to civilians. The award acknowledges, “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors" (Founder). Many girls across America today have had at least some sort of connection with Girl Scouts, whether they are or have been a Girl Scout, known someone who is a Girl Scout, or even just bought Girl Scout Cookies. This program has led to many young girls today that explore their ideas and beliefs and in turn become successful women who continue to possess leadership qualities as they grow up.

Princess Diana was a patron or president of over 100 different charity organizations (Diana). Some of her main charity work focused on AIDS and leprosy; Diana liked to visit the hospitals in which these patients stayed so that she could talk to them and create personal relationships. Though most of the public believed that coming into contact with these patients would pass on these diseases, Diana still visited patients. She broke that belief when she sat on patients beds and held their hands (Charity). In making these trips to the hospital, Diana influenced other people to embrace and support people with these diseases instead of shunning them because of the fear of catching these diseases. Princess Diana used her publicity and fame to introduce many issues that she felt were important. She held fundraising balls at which some men would pay up to 7,000 pounds to dance with her for a short song (Queen). Diana also would auction off some of her most prized gowns in order to raise money for charity. Instead of taking a traditional route, Diana used her role as Princess to reach out to her people. She genuinely wanted to help people and to make people happy. In order to do that she took a more modern role as Princess.
Lady Bird Johnson started out as a congressional wife. She was introduced to many important people that would influence her as a first lady, such as Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt offered Lady Bird many opportunities to volunteer and get behind the scenes on issues. Lady Bird began to invest in a radio broadcasting station and different ranches in order to make money for LBJ’s campaigns (Biographical). After turning her debt around, she was able to make a substantial amount of money. The fact that Lady Bird was involved in many political and business aspects of LBJ’s campaigns gave her much confidence in her decision making skills and in her social and political skills. When LBJ ran as Kennedy’s Vice President, Lady Bird had to take a more in depth role as a public figure, which was even more so because of the fact that Jackie Kennedy was pregnant. She enrolled in a public speaking class just so that she could make speeches and really connect with the people. Lady Bird would substitute for Jackie Kennedy at a moment’s notice, and her fame increased when she was thrust into the spotlight as First Lady after Kennedy’s assassination (First, Lady). Civil Rights was a primary focus of Lady Bird Johnson and a First Lady. She also undertook many projects that interested her in particular. She was a strong believer that women should get higher education. Lady Bird also focused her efforts on beautification of cities and bringing people out of poverty (Biographical). She was one of the first First Ladies to actually take a modern role in politics.

These women, and others that were not mentioned, as a whole have worked to raise the bars of traditional roles of women which allowed other women to do what they want to do, rather then what society calls for them to do. Today, women are more involved and have a greater influence in society, and are viewed as valuable and as role models. The women of today are able to dream big and reach their goals. The roles of prominent women of the past should be looked upon with heroism, because they have shaped a better life for us today. These women should continue to inspire us to do what we want and to reach for the stars.

In conclusion, to find happiness and strength, go back and look at some famous women’s stories, as they will inspire you to dream big, and do your very best. Learn some lessons from these women, because they will go far in life.

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