Celebrate Women’s History Month

EARLY YEARS -- Mrs. Betty Gillies was the first woman pilot to be "flight checked" and accepted by the Women's Auxiliary Ferring Squadron.  Mrs. Gillies 33 years of age, has been flying since 1928 and received her commercial license in 1930.  She has logged in excess of 1400 hours flying time and is qualified to fly single and multi-engined aircraft.  Mrs. Gillies is a member of the Aviation Country Club of Hicksville L.I. and is a charter member of '99, an international club of women flyers formed by Amelia Earhardt in 1929.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

EARLY YEARS -- Mrs. Betty Gillies was the first woman pilot to be "flight checked" and accepted by the Women's Auxiliary Ferring Squadron. Mrs. Gillies 33 years of age, has been flying since 1928 and received her commercial license in 1930. She has logged in excess of 1400 hours flying time and is qualified to fly single and multi-engined aircraft. Mrs. Gillies is a member of the Aviation Country Club of Hicksville L.I. and is a charter member of '99, an international club of women flyers formed by Amelia Earhardt in 1929. (U.S. Air Force photo)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- March is Women's History Month with the theme "Generations of Women Moving History Forward." This year marks the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and the 30th anniversary of the National Women's Conference in Houston. 

In 1957, the integration of Central High School helped ignite the civil rights movement; and, 20 years later, the Houston Conference marked a high point in the influence of the women's rights movement on the formation of government policy. These two events, among many others, represent landmark achievements in women's history and serve as a reminder of the generations of women who struggled for equality in America. 

Designated by Congress as Women's History Month in 1987, March offers a unique opportunity to celebrate both achievements as well as educate citizens about women's contributions to society. 

Women have played an integral part throughout history in the growth and development of our country in economic, cultural and social roles. They have comprised a significant portion of our labor force, working both inside and outside of the home. 

Consider the achievements of the following women: 
  • Charley Parkhurst drove a stagecoach across the roughest part of the west during the mid-1800s without anyone knowing that she was a woman until she died.
  • At the same time, Harriet Tubman served as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad, freeing hundreds of southern slaves and leading them to safety in the north.
  • Elizabeth Blackwell was rejected by 29 medical schools before being accepted to one. She graduated at the head of her class and became the first licensed woman doctor in the United States. Dr. Blackwell later founded her own infirmary, the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, in 1857.
  • Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States
    in 1872.
  • Elizabeth Cochrane Seaman, better known as Nellie Bly, traveled around the world in 72 days in 1890 working as a journalist.
  • Alice Paul wrote the first version of the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.
  • Chien-Shiung Wu was invited to teach nuclear physics at Princeton University in the early 1940s, even though no female students were allowed to study there. She also worked on the Manhattan Project.
  • Romana Bañuelos was the first Hispanic woman to serve as U.S. Treasurer from 1971 to 1974.
  • Dolores Huerta, Secretary-Treasure Emeritus of the United Farm Workers of America, has been vital in speaking for civil and economic rights for farm workers throughout the United States.
  • And retired Col. Eileen Collins was the first woman pilot of a Space Shuttle -- the Columbia -- in 1999. She is a veteran of four space flights and has logged more than 872 hours in space.
These accomplishments are impressive no matter what the race, color or religion is. Women's History Month allows us to take a moment and recognize women in our history who have been trailblazers -- with the strength, courage and wisdom to push the envelope and make this country a better place. 

Because of their efforts and countless other women in our nation's history, young women today have role models to look up to and dreams that are more attainable than ever before.