Women’s History Month Has Lots to Celebrate, With Caveats

March is Women’s History Month, and while women’s fortitude has been a mainstay, the pandemic put that resilience to the test. Several associations are honoring women’s strength and how it has shaped the past and continues to inspire future generations.

Sobering statistics shadow the many reasons to celebrate Women’s History Month. For example, 27 times more men than women joined the labor force in January 2022, and there were 1.1 million fewer women in the workforce in January 2022 compared to February 2020, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.

The pandemic played a large part in that gender disparity for many reasons, including that women tended to have jobs that were more affected by the economic downturn and shutdowns than men, and there were larger demands on women related to child care, elder care, and other familial responsibilities, according to Gallup research.

However, women—and their history—have always been marked by perseverance, as many associations are highlighting during this month to call attention to the many obstacles women have overcome to forge careers for themselves despite adversity.

Here are some ways associations are shining a light on the strength of women and what they have achieved.

Stories from women physicians. The American Association for Physician Leadership announced the publication of Lessons Learned: Stories from Women Physician Leaders, which profiles 33 exceptional women physicians who have defied the odds—while balancing work, family, and their personal lives—to build careers in clinical medicine and leadership roles in government, academia, hospitals, and more.

Build a growth mindset. A 21 Day Grit & Growth Mindset Challenge, created by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, aims “to educate women lawyers about the science behind the grit and growth mindset—two important traits that many successful women lawyers have in common.” The challenge encourages 21 days of engagement in short, daily challenges to build resilience and confidence.

Leadership lessons. The American Dental Association asked five women leaders in dentistry two questions: What does leadership mean to you, and what advice would you give young women who are interested in leadership roles in dentistry? One response, from Illinois State Dental Society President Stacey Van Scoyoc, D.D.S., notes, “Perfectionism is not a prerequisite for leadership. Continuing to educate yourself and asking for guidance is part of the process. Good leaders take risks and learn from their mistakes.”

Classroom resources. The National Speech and Debate Association is commemorating Women’s History Month by providing several classroom resources. These include a special poster series, which features speech and debate coaches and alumni, as well as a literature collection featuring stories and recommended texts for historical context.

Women of impact. The Student Conservation Association asked colleagues and alumni to reveal the women who had the greatest impact on their lives. SCA’s board vice chair, Dr. Mamie Parker, said, “The two things that your ancestors can give you are roots and wings to grow.” She credits her birth mother, who loved the outdoors, with introducing her to nature and being the greatest influence on her life.

The wide-ranging contributions of women and the solidarity among them are exemplified by the forward to Lessons Learned: Stories from Women Physician Leaders, written by American Medical Women’s Association President-elect Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D.: “None of us is on this journey alone. We stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us, beside those who are with us, and for those who come after us.”

(Margaret Diemidova/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Lisa Boylan

By Lisa Boylan

Lisa Boylan is a senior editor of Associations Now. MORE

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