Thirty-nine years ago today, the United States Senate confirmed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman and first Jewish woman to serve on the Supreme Court, died on Friday after serving 27 years on the Court. Last month, the U.S. celebrated the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting white women the right to vote. Today, the first Black and South Indian woman, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, holds the Vice Presidential nomination for a major political party.
All of these are important examples of representation that should be honored and celebrated. In today's post, we're highlighting the strong women who are paving the way for us while appreciating those who came before us. Women trailblazers challenge the status-quo, and as a result, oftentimes endure unprecedented and unfair criticism along the way. But, these women haven't backed down from their fight. They are inspiring.
Thanks to passage of Title IX, girls youth sports and women's athletics has grown exponentially in the last two generations. In recent years, the two-time World Cup Champion U.S. Women’s Soccer Team has relentlessly fought for equal pay and equal treatment. The team has inspired young girls to play soccer (there’s data that convincingly proves that participation in girls soccer is at an all-time high), and now they are continuing their battle legally so that professional women soccer players receive what is due: equal pay, financial security and an investment in girls youth soccer programs -- the future of the sport.
Moreover, representation is important in the arts. Last fall I read an article that brought me to tears. It was a feature story on Sydney Mesher, the first Radio City Rockette with a visible disability. Mesher was born without a left hand. The piece highlighted Mesher’s story -- her love for dance since childhood and her dream of becoming a Rockette. She had to overcome dance-related injuries and surgeries and withstood the infamous and grueling Rockette audition process (she auditioned three times before she made it). In addition, she performs, with excellence, the demanding Rockette choreography, which requires carrying and moving around props. When I shared her story with my daughters who participate in the performing arts, they were in awe of her. I can only imagine the impression Mesher’s determination and work ethic has had on countless girls and boys around the world.
While celebrating Ruth Bader Ginsburg's life and long tenure on the Supreme Court, many have retold the stories of RBG's resiliency to overcome personal and professional barriers as well as her historical dissents in favor of equal protection for all under the law. She inspired and positively impacted millions of women and young girls in her lifetime and forged new paths for future generations of women.
Simply put, representation matters. There are several more untold stories of women doing what has never been done before and handling it with grace, grit, courage and conviction. They may be the ones receiving the attention or the title, but they were lifted by the women before us and they are doing the heavy lifting for those that follow us.
It's important to remember that our country’s history has not been told by or built for the success of women, minorities, those with disabilities or any underrepresented group. The progress toward equal representation is fought in the present by battling the mentality of the past.
We recently held an Instagram poll, and overwhelming, the And She Writes community favored this quote:
"Here's to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them."
Each day, women and young girls etch away at the huge glass ceiling hovering above us. It’s the telling of stories, the support from families, communities and schools that will change the minds, hearts and lives of many so more firsts will be reached and progress is made. My hope is that we can continue to move forward so that all women are represented in all corners of American society.