Women reflecting on Women’s History Month
Women studying at the University of Alabama reflect on the women who came before them who have made contributions to working for equality for honor of Women’s History month. Disregarding the male dominant field of study some are pursuing, they admire the trailblazers who had the courage to be the change and break the glass ceilings.
By Kinsley Centers
Since the eighth grade, Shanaya Daughtrey, a freshman majoring in political science, has admired Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman to be elected into the House of Representatives.
Daughtrey said Chisholm set the precedent for many women, especially minority women. She also admires trailblazers such as Rosa Parks and Winnie Mandela.
March is observed as Women’s History month each year, acknowledging the contributions women have made in history and events over time. Daughtrey said having the education of women’s history is important, because knowledge is power.
Daughtrey is the President of IGNITE National – UA which is a nonpartisan organization that strives to dramatically increase the pool of women involved in politics and ensure their voices are heard, represented and are actively engaging in the political process.
“I feel like it’s very important that women’s voices are heard because women, we make up 51% of the population but only make up 20% of elected offices and so that’s a problem that we have to change,” Daughtrey said. “We have to change that whole narrative and I think IGNITE is a big part of doing that.”
Daughtrey feels women are underrepresented when it comes to politics in general and some women feel like they are not properly represented — that is why she is passionate about IGNITE.
“As women we have a voice, we have a right to use our voice, we have a right to be engaged and we’re not going to be silenced because our input matters,” Daughtrey said. “What we have to say matters and it’s alright to elect officials and government officials in office that we feel are going to execute our wants and our needs and align with our specific ideologies.”
Women are not only underrepresented in politics but other fields as well. Looking back in 2018 less than 10% of the construction industry were made up of women. Sam Littman, a junior majoring in civil engineering, said despite the fact that there are not as many women as males in her field of study, she has never been one to have the male to female ratio in her classes affect what she wants to pursue.
“I kind of see it as an opportunity to you know pave the way for other people like me, other girls like me, that are interested or I don’t know maybe scared or worried or things like that with there not being as many girls and maybe it’s out of their comfort zone,” Littman said.
Littman is the vice president of the Women in Construction organization at the University of Alabama. By having speakers, this organization allows members to hear perspectives from women as they share their experiences through internships and jobs. Littman said when there may be a lacking support system from outsiders of the industry, this is a place where they can come together to support one another and bring news ideas.
“I think for me and a lot of my peers it’s just inspiring to be part of a I guess a newer movement to more women coming into this industry because it has been growing a little bit more compared to in the past,” Littman said. “So I think that’s the one really cool thing that makes it maybe not as scary and makes it really worth it.”
Daughtry said it is important for women to be courageous enough in the face of adversity to go out against the brave and express their passions, use their voice and take action to execute what they believe in.
“I’m so proud to be a woman, we have so much power, we have so many opportunities to get involved and use our voices and take action to change the narrative,” Daughtrey said. “That’s what I think when I think [about] International Women’s Day because we have so many tools in disposal to be heard. We’re not going to be silenced, our voices are not going to be distorted and so all we have to do is execute and be willing to take that chance. Even if we get told no, even if we get door slammed in our faces when we are trying to go out trying to get involved in our communities and stuff like that and I just feel like we have to be willing to go that extra mile to be heard.”
Littman said this month she reflects on Women’s History month by recognizing important women in history that have made a difference, especially when it comes to things that are not as common or are at times taken for granted.
“I mean for example being able to vote and just little things like that just kind of thinking of those things and taking a little bit of time to kind of appreciate things like that and think about all the awesome and amazing things that people have done before us to kind of get us to this point which I think is a pretty great point for women to be in right now,” Littman said.
Over the years women who have acted as a teacher, professor or coach have impacted Littman’s life the most. Growing up, she saw these women as strong. She said she remains to see inspiring women as she dwells deeper into her field of study.
Sam Braht, a junior majoring in English, said the support of everyone’s voice needs to be heard if we are going to create a more equal world.
“I think it’s a good time to kind of celebrate how far we’ve come but also keep the conversation going with how much further we have to go,” Braht said.
Braht said she admires classic, well-known feminists in history like Gloria Steinem, Bell Hooks and Angela Davis as they brought awareness to various issues within feminism and opened the conversation for all.
“I love the fact that the university is celebrating Women’s History month so much in the prior years and more recently,” Braht said. “Obviously it’s taking so long for us to get some of the rights we have now and it’s still a struggle and a battle sometimes. Obviously, especially in the news, there’s so much going on with women’s history and women of color and their struggles.”