Why the Pulitzer Prize committee keeps ignoring women’s history

Historians in the News
tags: Pulitzer Prize, womens history

Elizabeth Cobbs holds the Melbern Glasscock Chair at Texas A&M University and a senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. She is author of "The Hello Girls: America’s First Women Soldiers."

In its first 100 years, the Pulitzer Prize committee recognized a book focused on women’s history only once.

And that was a book about childbearing.

Today, the 101st winner took its place on the shelf of great American books. The prize committee stuck to its tradition.

Women sit on the Pulitzer jury. I myself participated in 2008. Eight prizewinners have been women. Why, then, is the story of women nearly blank?

The problem stems from the misconception that female achievement is peripheral to the American story. When I decided to research the nation’s first female soldiers, a friend previously on the Pulitzer jury questioned whether I could make a “whole book” out of it. His comment echoed an editor who warned another historian writing a book on the Progressive Era that the inclusion of female leaders weakened the story line.

Yet as the film “Hidden Figures” illustrated so powerfully two years ago, women have long played notable roles. The African American women who served NASA pulled up to the building in their wide-bodied automobiles, walked through the front door and lined up on the tarmac to shake hands with astronauts whom they had helped put into space. No one dipped behind a potted palm. None covered her face with an apron.

Women weren’t hidden. They just weren’t seen. ...

Read entire article at The Washington Post

comments powered by Disqus