Celebrate Women's History
Dr. Gail Gillan
When I came to work at this University
several years ago, the Texas governor, the Houston mayor and the UH president
were all female.
They were powerful women as well. Marguerite
Barnett was the first African-American female to be named president of
a major public research
institution, and her legacy here was impressive.
She was responsible for such achievements as a $51.4 million gift to the
creation of the Texas Center for Environmental
Studies and a commitment by the University to community partnerships. Her
brought a higher stature to the University.
March is Women's History Month, so it seems
appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the power and influence of women
in our lives.
How many women, notable in their own right,
can you actually name, other than those in sports or in entertainment?
If your list is short, it is not
because they don't exist, but rather because
we don't always learn about them.
Have you ever read The Book of Women? It's
an interesting book, including brief biographies of more than 300 women.
Included are women
from all walks of life, from all races
and ethnicities and from all socioeconomic standings.
The author begins with the women we most
often do study in history, most of whom were either "martyrs, or whores,
or wives." An interesting
Why not marvel instead at the tenacity
of Elizabeth Blackwell, for example, who after being rejected by 29 medical
schools became the first
female physician in this country? Why
not look at the courage of Sojourner Truth, a former slave and abolitionist
who fought for freedom?
Revisiting history is not, as some might
say, "revisionary" history. It's "inclusionary" history, one that reflects
what really happened. Some of our
history is good; some is not. Either way,
it's our history, and we can all take pride in how far we have come and
how much we have gained from
having a history that was influenced by
men and by women, and by people of every race, culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic
Bringing our pride in women to the forefront
enhances and expands our pride as people.
What do you see when you look around? Are
there women who have had a profound influence on your life? Maybe you should
tell them about
that influence, and the pride you take
in being a woman.
As a man, why not tell the influential
women in your life about the pride you take in them.
Someday, perhaps, we won't have women's
history months, or black history months, or other "history" months. Perhaps
we won't need to have
them. Perhaps the history we all study
will be one that more "accurately" reflects our past, more "pridefully"
describes our present and projects
our future in a more "hope-filled" manner.
There are women out there, in all of our
lives, whom we can say with confidence are worth studying and knowing.
They are indeed women well