Most cultures tend to downplay the contribution of women toward the progression of humankind. To help improve education and help us take some time to recognize this many nations including the Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States celebrate Women's History Month in March. The gender gap is still very much alive, and we need to rely on education to help us change this. These worksheets will explore the lives of some extraordinary women throughout history. These women were not afraid to buck cultural trends and push the gender gap back in the right direction. They also were not born into a role of influence and overcame that with their brains anyway. Each personality we cover has an extended reading passage followed by questions and answers.
Amelia Earhart was a female pilot born on July 24th, 1897 in Kansas. She was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. From a young age, Amelia was interested in women's rights, and was considered a tomboy.
Although she had originally planned to land in Paris, she made an emergency landing in a pasture in Northern Ireland because of strong northern winds and mechanical problems.
Flying a long distance by herself was a new and dangerous attempt. If you were Amelia Earhart, would you have wanted to fly across the Atlantic by yourself? Answer why or why not?
Hillary was inspired to work in public service when she heard a speech in Chicago made by Reverend Martin Luther King. As a young woman, applied to NASA but was shocked to find out that they did not accept women at that time.
She also served on the board for some large corporations, such as Wal-Mart. She was named one of the most powerful lawyers in America in 1988 and 1991 by The National Law Journal.
What does the fact that Hillary Rodham Clinton kept her maiden name and took on her husband's name tell us?
She was not the best student but she loved ballet and music. She attended three boarding schools for young ladies although she did not finish her final high school exams.
She loved to do charity work and her two favorites were AIDS and getting rid of the landmines which blow up when walked on in Angola. First of all, she sat beside and touched an AIDS patient which blew away the notion that you caught AIDS from casual touch.
Diana was chosen to be the wife of Prince Charles because she had the proper credentials. What does that mean?
By the mid 1840s, Nightingale knew she wanted to work in a hospital. Nurses were not looked upon highly, but Florence wanted to change that.
Even though Florence Nightingale suffered ill-health herself later in life and eventually went blind by 1907, she had changed the face of health care on all levels, both military and public in what would directly affect the entire western world.
Why did Florence Nightingale carry a lamp to visit the sick soldiers at night?
Would you have been able to live and work in the unsterile conditions of the early 1800s?
Stowe was well travelled and educated. She learned about the ways of the Southern part of the United States which believed in using slaves from Africa to plant the cotton crops for free.
Stowe was driven to write a book called "Uncle Tom's Cabin" after a law, The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, came into effect that forbade the assistance of any slave to escape to freedom.
The slaves were finally emancipated after the war. What does emancipated mean?
Why did books have such an impact on how people felt and how they changed the world in the 1800s?
After finishing secondary school, Goodall took a variety of odd jobs to save up her money. Finally, at the age of 23 she went to Africa, and there she met the famous anthropologist, Louis Leakey, who became her teacher of primates.
Goodall entered the Gombe National Park in south-eastern Africa with native trackers and assistants. She was charged with watching the chimpanzees which lived in the forests of Lake Tanganyika.
Goodall learned to sit and wait patiently for the chimpanzees in hopes that what would happen?
Would you like to do the research work like Jane Goodall did with animals? Why or why not?
When she was about twelve years old, she started to hear voices in her head from patron saints such St. Michael, St. Catharine and St. Margaret.
It took quite some time for her to convince Charles VII that she could lead some troops to help him and he sent her away to be studied by some priests.
Why did she go to Charles VII to ask to lead some troops against the English?
How did you become a queen or king in France or England during the early years?
After earning two degrees in Physics and Mathematics, Madame Curie became a leading researcher at the university and it was there that she met and married her husband. While they were working together with another French physicist, Henri Becquerel, they discovered two new important chemical elements.
For their amazing work in radiation, the three physicists won a Nobel Prize in 1903 for Physics. Years later, Madame Curie received a second Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1911.
What other evidence do we have in history that women were not considered equal to men in the early 1900s in Europe or the United States?
Margaret Sanger was born in 1879 in the United States as the 6th child of eleven children in her family. Her mother became very ill after having 18 babies of whom only 11 survived.
When she was indicted for writing brochures about "Family Limitations" she jumped bail and fled to England where she studied European forms of birth control.
Sanger's writing and speeches finally gained public appeal and she opened the American Birth Control League in 1921.
If you knew that you could help someone who was poorer than you and who needed your help, would you do the same as Sanger?
In 1979 Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister of The United Kingdom, another first for a woman, and she began what was to be three consecutive terms of office.
At that time, Great Britain was in economic turmoil and the inflation rate was astronomical. The country was in a high period of unemployment and showing slow growth. Under Thatcher's firm hand and rule, the country began a slow improvement in trade and growth.
The House of Lords in England would be most like what in The U.S.A.?
Why do you think Margaret Thatcher was chosen to be a Prime Minister?
Mother Teresa was born in Albania in the year 1910. When her father died at an early age, Mother Teresa, a young girl at the time had to work hard with her mother to care for the family.
Mother Teresa enjoyed teaching but she was deeply saddened by the extreme poverty and sickness that she witnessed in the slum areas of Calcutta.
Mother Teresa won the Nobel Peace Prize and she was honored to who? meet
Would you consider becoming a missionary in an underprivileged country? Why or why not?
Rachel Carson was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania, in 1907 where she loved to spend time along the rivers and ponds studying the marine life. Her mother groomed her love for wildlife of any sort and when she went to college she studied marine biology.
In her fifteen year career with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Carson became the Editor-In-Chief for all the articles and news which was written by that agency.
Ms. Carson took a job writing and reading scripts on the radio for what?
If you discovered something very harmful to the Earth's environment, what would you do?
She was the first female athlete in any field to win $100,000. Back then, women didn't earn the same amount as men did. Billie Jean wanted men and women to be able to win the same amounts at tournaments.
She was also the first woman to coach a co-ed team in professional sport. She was the first woman to have a major sports venue named in her honor (the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center 2006).
How old was Billie Jean when she bought her first tennis racquet?
Why did Billie Jean King think women should be able to win the same amount of money as men?
Clara Barton was born on Christmas day in the year 1821. Barton is famous for having started The American Red Cross organization.
When the civil war started, Clara felt the need to help soldiers. In April 1862, Clara Barton founded an organization to help find and distribute supplies to wounded soldiers.
Explain a recent event or natural disaster where people might have needed help from an organization like the Red Cross.
Who was Eleanor Roosevelt? She was the First Lady of the United States. The First Lady is the wife of the president, so this means that Eleanor was married to the president of the United States.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the first First Lady who held press conferences, give lectures, and speak on the radio. She traveled all over the country, and surveyed the working and living conditions.
Eleanor was a very shy child. Are you surprised that she went on to accomplish so much? How do you think she grew out of her shyness?
Helen Hayes was most famous for her work on Broadway. She was a famous actress on the stage, where she acted in many different plays, including Happy Birthday, Time Remembered, and Victoria Regina, in which she famously played Queen Victoria.
Asthma was a major health problem for Helen, and she was sensitive to the dust found on the stage. Eventually, she had to stop acting on the stage because of this ailment.
In what year was Helen awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom?
It was a December day in 1955, and Ms. Parks was riding the bus. She was a seamstress and she was tired after a long day of work. Back then, the transit system was segregated by race.
When the bus filled up, the black passengers were asked to stand up. The bus-driver asked Ms. Parks to give her seat to a white passenger, and she refused.
Did Rosa Parks think it was fair that she had to give up her seat, just because of the color of her skin? Why or why not?
Susan B. Anthony was born into a Quaker family in Massachusetts on February 15, 1820.
In 1869 she founded the National Women's Suffrage Association along with a friend, Elizabeth Cady Stanton. They worked on the cause together for more than 50 years.
In what year did Susan B. Anthony start the National Women's Suffrage Association?
If you are female, do you plan to vote one day? Why or why not? If you are male, will you encourage women in your life to vote? Why or why not?
Sandra was the first woman to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was granted this role in the year 1981, by the President at the time, Ronald Reagan.
Throughout her years of service at the Supreme Court, she has proven to be a wise, thoughtful, and fair judge. Sandra is still alive today, and is currently an advocate for Alzheimer's disease, which her husband suffers from.
What personality traits do you think Sandra had to achieve such a high distinction?
Barbara was a scientist who spent her time experimenting and learning about genes. During the 1940s and 50s, she discovered that genes are transposable (they can move around) on and between chromosomes. She learned this by observing the changing patterns of colorization in corn kernels over many generations of crosses.
Barbara Mclintock was the first woman to win an unshared Nobel. This made her quite a sensation, and she has served has an inspiration to many women in academics and science throughout the past few decades.
What did McClintock learn by observing the changing patterns of colorization in corn kernels over many generations of crosses?
Imagine you are a woman working in medicine. Why might you be interested in Barbara McClintock's career?
Important Events in Women's History
The story of women has changed throughout time. Today more than seventy percent of moms with kids under the age of eighteen work more than 40 hours a week. More than sixty percent of college degrees awarded over the last twenty years have gone to women. In fact the two highest IQs ever recorded were that of females. Yet societies throughout the modern world still put up boundaries and obstacles for the mothers and daughters of our lives. We look at some key figures that helped make all of this possible for women today. As we look for the next Marie Curie or Margaret Thatcher of this time.
Women's history in the United States has had many important and groundbreaking milestones that changed women's lives forever. These moments would influence women's rights and opportunities in the United States, and we can still see the impact of many of these events today.
Some important events in women's history include Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, the founding of the National Woman Suffrage Association, and Jeannette Ranking becoming the first woman elected to the house of representatives. Women’s right to vote and the Equal Pay Act were also crucial.
Women’s history didn’t end a hundred years ago, though. It’s still happening today, as evidenced by Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president of the United States in 2020. Let's take a closer look at some of the biggest milestones in women’s history and discuss their importance.
1. 1851: Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman” Speech
At the Ohio Women's Rights Convention in Akron, Truth improvised this famous speech that argued that women could change the world and that black women should be included in the Women's Rights movement. In this speech, Truth asserts that she doesn't need to choose between the women's and abolitionist movements.
2. 1869: The National Woman Suffrage Association Is Formed
Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed this organization to secure women's right to vote after the women’s rights movement was divided over the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution. The National Woman Suffrage Association opposed the amendment. The group reunited with the American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890.
3. 1916: Jeannette Rankin is Elected to Congress
Four years before American women were guaranteed the right to vote, Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman in Congress when she was elected to the House of Representatives.
She voted to keep America out of World War I and World War II, worked to expand voting rights for women, fought to improve health care for women, and argued for better working conditions for laborers.
4. 1920: Women Win the Right To Vote
On August 18, 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified. This was a huge milestone for women because it guaranteed them the right to vote. This accomplishment resulted from decades of protests, lectures, lobbies, marches, and civil disobedience.
It’s important to note that this amendment didn’t necessarily help black women as much as it did white women.
5. 1932: Hattie Wyatt Caraway is Elected to the Senate
Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas was the first woman to serve a full term as a United States senator. She was a prohibitionist who supported the New Deal, and her attention to her Senate responsibilities won her the respect of her colleagues and demonstrated that women were capable of political skill and public roles.
6. 1955: Rosa Parks Helps Launch the Civil Rights Movement
When Rosa Parks famously refused to change her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, she helped initiate the Civil Rights Movement and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. She became a symbol of dignity and strength in both the African American and Women's history movements.
7. 1963: The Equal Pay Act Is Passed
President Kennedy signed this labor law that prohibits gender-based wage discrimination. The law forbids employers from paying men and women differently for the same job. This law helped reduce gender discrimination in the workplace. However, women are still fighting for this cause today.
8. 1972: Title IX is Passed
This law prohibits discrimination based on sex in any education program that receives federal money, including academics, athletics, research, and other training. This opened up a lot of opportunities for women that they didn’t have before, especially in athletics.
9. 2020: Kamala Harris Becomes First Female Vice President
Kamala Harris was the first woman to be sworn in as vice president when she was elected in 2021, with Joe Biden as president. Harris is the 49th vice president of the United States, and in addition to being the first woman, she is the first Asian American to hold the office. She is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants.