Quick: How many female historical figures can you name?
Susan B. Anthony. Rosa Parks. Any more?
As you go about your day to day life, how many women from history do you see being recognized with statues, post stamps, road names, etc.?
Ever hear about Deborah Sampson or Raicho Hiratsuka? As important as Anthony and Parks were, they weren’t the only ones that deserved to make headlines.
For the past year, SPARK has been working on changing that. With the help of Google’s Field Trip app, we’re releasing "Women On The Map," an interactive map that tells you when you’ve crossed the life of a significant but invisible women in history. The app uses google maps to help locate nearby attractions, so you can learn and explore the history of the place’s you visit. SPARK‘s contribution is putting these important women’s stories on their map, so as people are traveling, their phone will buzz every time they come across a place women made history.
While researching all these women, I noticed how relevant they are to what we learn in school, but these women are never mentioned. The takeaway for both boys and girls is that females had little significance in our history, and yet they contributed so much more than we can imagine. I remember writing a SPARK biography of Deborah Sampson, a soldier in the Revolutionary War who disguised herself as a man in order to serve her country. And I don’t remember her from my history textbook at all.
One of my favorite woman to learn about was Raicho Hiratsuka. Hiratsuka fought traditional Japanese customs and pondered topics such as sexuality, abortion, fashion and chastity, all of which were condemned from Japan’s social norms. Her creation of the country’s first woman magazine, and publicly displaying her feminist beliefs gave birth to a women’s rights movement in Japan.
These women’s achievements are often overlooked, and it’s time we recognize the women scientists, writers, explorers, activists, and so many others that enrich our history.
I’ve always wanted to be an engineer when I grow up, but as I went through elementary and middle school, I rarely remember learning about the girl scientists, mathematicians and engineers of the world. I had no idea that they existed, and it was sad to think that the world I lived in was only shaped by men.
Turns out, they definitely did exist, we were just never made aware about them. I didn’t think there were many girls in STEM, but there are — and they’re doing some amazing things. With just this project alone, I learned of numerous female mathematicians, scientists, and engineers, including Bertha Lamme, Emmy Noether, Sophie Germain, Stephanie Kwolek, Sofia Kovalevskaya, and Grace Hopper. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Women on the Map puts 100 women on the map, but there are obviously so many others whose stories are still in the dark. We want you to get involved! If you know of a significant woman that inspires you, send a 150-300 word bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure to have Women on the Map as the subject line, and include a specific location that was significant to the woman’s life.
We can’t keep telling future generations that our world was built upon a single gender. Women belong in history, and they deserve to be recognized and celebrated.