Who comes to mind when you think of great women in history? Harriet Tubman? Marie Curie? These women are certainly inspiring, and there are many more to be found in Learner.org in the arts, sciences, and across the disciplines. In this post, we’ll focus on women collectively as a force for positive change and add a few fictional women, as well.
During the Industrial Revolution, labor for textile mills in the northeast was provided by young women working for low wages. Unit 3 of Primary Sources, “The Lowell System,” includes documents, personal narratives, and news items about this era of labor history. After watching the video lecture, use the linked documents and analysis questions with your students to determine if the Lowell system was a life-changing opportunity or a dead-end for women. This is an excellent exercise for Common Core skills of close reading and making an argument.
The mothers of the “disappeared” or Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo protested relentlessly against the military junta that ruled Argentina in the 1970s. The military government had arrested, kidnapped, and murdered the sons and husbands of these women, who it deemed to be a threat. Watch the video (from 16:18 minutes on) of unit 23, “People Shape the World,” from Bridging World History to understand how a large number of committed individuals can face down a powerful government. Compare the actions of Las Madres to protests from the Arab Spring and the Ukraine.
Although women have made economic strides in the workplace, their wages still lag behind those of their male counterparts. The female clerical workers of Colorado Springs, CO campaigned in 1980s for comparable wages for comparable work, and fought the battle using statistics. Watch the video module, “Measures of Center,” from the new Against All Odds to see how using numbers to back up your argument can carry the day.
In Reading & Writing in the Disciplines, “Mathematics in the Real World,” epidemiologist Traci Bethea uses statistics and comparative data to advocate on behalf of health-care reform related to a wide array of health issues with a disproportionately negative impact on black women. In “History in the Real World,” filmmaker Laurens Grant demonstrates the process of documenting history through filmmaking while working collaboratively on a documentary on the Black Panther Party.
Get to know Raquel Rodriguez, Mireille Bellieu, and Rebecca Casey, three fictional women who take risks and seek answers in Annenberg Learner’s language learning series Destinos: Introduction to Spanish, French in Action, and Connect with English. Check out the online practice websites for Destinos and Connect with English, and help Raquel and Rebecca find answers to family mysteries.
Below are links to additional blog posts and resources highlighting women in history and today who have shown strength, courage, and leadership:
Image Copyright: roxanabalint / 123RF Stock Photo