What Schools Teach About Women’s History Leaves a Lot to Be DesiredBreaking News
tags: curriculum, education, womens history
In the introduction to her 1970 anthology Sisterhood Is Powerful, author and activist Robin Morgan wrote that the women’s liberation movement was “creating history, or rather, herstory,” coining the popular term that second-wave feminists used to highlight the way in which women were consistently overlooked in historical narratives.
Though women have made strides in countless arenas, breaking glass ceilings everywhere, the canon of American history, at least as it is taught in public schools, still has much room for reexamination and advancement.
About two years ago, authors with the virtual National Women’s History Museum analyzed the K-12 educational standards in social studies for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. They published their findings in Where Are the Women?, a 2017 report on the status of women in the standards that dictate who and what is taught in classrooms. Their report found just how few women are required reading in America’s schools.
According to Smithsonian’s calculations, 737 specific historical figures—559 men and 178 women, or approximately 1 woman for every 3 men—are mentioned in the standards in place as of 2017. Aside from the individuals explicitly named, many references to women feel like an afterthought, grouped in with other minorities as they are in the Florida standard for high school social studies, which prompts educators to teach their classes about significant inventors of the Industrial Revolution, “including an African American or a woman.”
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