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International Women's Day

Updated: Apr 9, 2023

International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8th to honor women's achievements in many different areas. The first National Women's Day was marked in the United States in February 1909, after Clara Zetkin, a German feminist, proposed it at the International Congress of Working Women in Copenhagen in 1910. She suggested that every year on the same day, women in every country celebrate a "Women's Day" to promote women's rights and support their struggles for equality.






Clara Zetkin (c. 1920)

By Unknown author - http://www.wdr.de/themen/kultur/literatur/boell/boell_90_geburtstag/infobox/data/boell/akg_zetkin_400h.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8307692








On March 19, 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated the first International Women's Day. More than a million women and men marched to support better working conditions, suffrage, and an end to gender discrimination.


International Women's Day has evolved into a global celebration of women's achievements as well as a call to action for gender equality. In 1975, the United Nations declared International Women's Day and has since supported the celebration. The day is still essential to advocate for gender equality and raise awareness about the ongoing challenges that women confront.





A German poster for International Women's Day, March 8, 1914, was banned in the German Empire.

By Karl Maria Stadler (1888 – 1943) - Scan from an old book, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6372383











International Women's Day had significant effects on women in STEM disciplines.

To start with, International Women's Day promotes understanding of gender gaps in STEM fields. Despite recent advancements, women still need to be more represented in STEM areas, particularly at higher levels and International Women's Day helped to build a sense of urgency about the need for change by spotlighting these challenges.

Second, this day can serve as a forum for women in STEM to express their perspectives and experiences. This can inspire and motivate other women interested in pursuing STEM professions, as well as provide essential support and advice to those who are already working in the field.


Third, International Women's Day is meant to highlight women's achievements in STEM areas. This serves to challenge existing assumptions and biases, as well as emphasize the significant contributions made by women to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Top left: Evelyn Berezin- computer designer; Bottom left: Ada Lovelace- mathematician; Top middle: Jean E. Sammet- computer scientist; Top right: Annie J. Easley- computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist; Bottom second from left: Kimberly Bryant- electrical engineer; Bottom third from left: Margaret Hamilton- computer scientist and systems engineer; Bottom right: Hedy Lamarr- a mathematician and inventor of early WiFi technology


Finally, International Women's Day reminds organizations and companies of the value of diversity and inclusion in STEM disciplines. Employers and organizations can support attracting and retaining bright women in STEM professions, as well as encourage more gender equality in the industry as a whole, by recognizing the benefits of a diverse workforce and taking steps to build more inclusive settings.

A British poster for Women's Day in March 1974

By See Red Women’s Workshop - Vogue, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74091815

 

Citations:

  • By Karl Maria Stadler (1888 – 1943) - Scan from an old book, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6372383

  • By See Red Women’s Workshop - Vogue, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74091815

  • By Tynker, March 8, 2019, https://images.tynker.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/20190308113325/3-8-2019-international-day-blog.png

  • By Unknown author - http://www.wdr.de/themen/kultur/literatur/boell/boell_90_geburtstag/infobox/data/boell/akg_zetkin_400h.jpg, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8307692

  • Syracuse University. (2020). Celebrating 20 Years of Wise. Women in Science and Engineering. Retrieved March 4, 2023, from https://suwise.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Celebrating-20-Years-Booklet-Final_Accessible-10-20-20.pdf.

  • Manijeh, Nasrabadi. "“Women Can Do Anything Men Can Do”: Gender and the Affects of Solidarity in the U.S. Iranian Student Movement, 1961–1979." WSQ: Women's Studies Quarterly 42, no. 3 (Numbers 3-4, Fall/Winter 2015)

  • Millett, Kate, and Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture. Sexual Politics. 1st ed. New York: Equinox Books, 1971.

  • Wharton, Elisabeth (2022). Singularity, Solidarity, and Gender France 1945-1997. Capstone project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/25467.





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