Updated: Mar 15
When the United States became a country, the new citizens were thrilled. A country where “all men are created equal” sounded like a dream come true after breaking away from Britain. Unfortunately, many were mistaken when they thought “men” meant the same as “human.” It certainly didn’t. Men were given almost complete freedom in the country, and one of the most important rights they earned immediately was the right to vote. This right would not be given to women until nearly 150 years later, and only after a strong group of women fought hard for decades.
This week, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and women’s right to vote. The 19th Amendment, which finally gave women the right to vote on August 26, 1920, was made possible by women like Susan B. Anthony, who was arrested for trying to vote nearly 40 years before women had the right to do so; Alice Paul, who was arrested while protesting outside the White House, gaining national attention for the movement; and Crystal Eastman, who fought for women’s equality beyond the right to vote. There were thousands of others, and the effort was only possible because these women worked together for a cause they were passionate about.
Now, 100 years later, a lot has changed. Women have altered politics with their right to vote, and they are serving in government positions in record numbers. In 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives elected a record number of women—over 100! These women include the first Muslim woman and the first Native American women to be elected to Congress. We’re seeing more women and more diversity in positions of leadership.
But our fight isn’t over.
While things are on the right track, even after 100 years, there is a long way to go. Women still make up less than 5% of CEOs in S&P 500 companies, about 25% of positions in Congress, and only 20% of executives, senior officers, and management in U.S. high-tech industries. Fewer women go into STEM fields for fear of discrimination, meaning they’re often left out of creating technologies for the future.
Women did a great thing when they won the right to vote 100 years ago. They were strong, motivated, determined women who knew what was at stake for future generations. But today, about 1 in 3 women who are eligible to vote choose not to. The right to vote was won after years of struggle—the best thing we can do to honor the women who fought for it is to exercise the right they won for us and vote every time we have the chance. Don’t you agree?
If you want to learn more about women’s suffrage, The National Park Service has some fun activities and great information in their Women's History section here. NPS identifies 20 Suffragists You Should Know, along with many other suffragists. You can learn about the Suffrage Cat, color the Suffrage Bluebird, design your own Ratification Star, and complete a Suffrage Word Search.
Help us make women’s equality a reality! Donate to GLAM, a nonprofit devoted to equipping and inspiring the future generation of women for senior leadership positions in science, technology, engineering, math and entrepreneurship. We currently have a 19th Amendment Centennial Donation Drive happening with a goal to raise $10,000 - $100 for every one of the 100 years that women have had the right to vote!