*Lesson plans referenced in the podcast can be found on our "Lessons" Page!
The history curriculum in schools is insufficient in their representation of women’s contribution to past events. This podcast aims to address that. While teachers want to include women’s history, they have not had access to the training, modeling, and resources to do it effectively. Women make up fifty percent of the global population, and yet are in a small fraction of events discussed in school. Women’s choices have been harrowing, infamous, and monumental, and yet their stories are so rarely associated with mainstream history. Ask your average high school graduate, or even college graduate, to name 20 significant men in history and the list flows easily. Ask that same person to name 20 women and the names drag, if they come at all. This case in point leaves us with conclusions like, “women did not do as much” or “women’s stories were not recorded.” These assertions justify our own indifference to the history of half the human race, and could not be further from the truth.
The flaws and impact of how we teach history are many. Women often get summarized in history in vague terms of their roles, rights, or responsibilities, and individual women are rarely mentioned. Never will you see a section in a history book where men are generalized in this way. If we were to generalize gendered behaviors, it is clear that human qualities such as powerful, innovative, and disruptive regularly make the books. Not surprisingly, feminine qualities of compassion, maintaining, and healing do not make the books as these are often grassroots ideals and are not as easily taught in history. These self-effacing qualities doom women to being underrepresented, yet can you imagine a world without them? And further, when women’s actions have all the hallmarks of history, somehow their accomplishments still don’t make the cut, or do so with the caveat of “for a woman” tacked on.
We study history to learn from our past. Girls have been denied the opportunity to fully learn about women’s struggles and triumphs in schools. Public history teachers, like myself, are stuck in a cycle because we never learned women’s history either . We have failed to mend the errors of our own educations, and are continuing to regurgitate these errors to our students.