Why Women's History Month Matters

Diverse learning is something that should be valued and sought after. Since March is Women’s History Month, now is a great time to seek out fascinating stories about women in history from diverse backgrounds.

Diversity is a good thing. There are endless studies that demonstrate and prove the benefits of interacting with people who have different cultures, backgrounds, and orientations than your own. Diverse interaction offers emotional, cognitive, and social benefits that improve the overall human experience. Diverse learning is something that should be valued and sought after (1). Since March is Women’s History Month, now is a great time to seek out fascinating stories about women in history from diverse backgrounds. Women’s History Month is also a perfect time to think about how diversity can help us become better people.

 

In a study conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, researchers found that when students learn about people and cultures that are different from their own, their critical thinking and problem-solving skills improve. This study also found that people who have had positive experiences with people unlike themselves have more open minds and can have better, more engaging discussions. When people learn a diverse history, they become better learners because diverse ideas become more concrete and less abstract.

 

Clearly, the benefits of diverse learning are tremendous. So why do history classes often leave out stories of women and other marginalized groups?  In history classes, the issue lies in the textbooks that teachers must use in their teaching. M.K. Tetrealt, author of Integrating Women’s History, found that “in one textbook that contains 819 pages, the text allotted to references to women added up to less than one page. A closer look at another publisher’s offering showed that in more than 1,000 pages, there were four illustrations of men for every one of women, and that less than three percent of the text was about women.” This is ridiculous! Sadly, one of the main reasons diverse stories are left out of history textbooks is simply because most writers of textbooks do not want to rewrite the many male-centric textbooks to include more women. The good news is that change is happening, slowly but surely. Women’s stories can (and should!) be written back into history. One of the best ways to be an advocate for women’s history being taught in your community is to voice your concerns to your local school boards (2).

 

We can all make the world a better place by exposing ourselves to diverse experiences. Learning about a diverse history of cultures, genders, backgrounds, and orientations creates individuals that will thrive in society. Diverse learners develop open minds and exceptional critical thinking skills. If everyone works hard to diversify their knowledge, imagine the positive change we could create in our society! Society thrives when people work hard to understand each other and collaborate to find the best solutions. Let’s all start being diverse learners now by searching for untold stories in history, befriending individuals who are different from ourselves, and by always advocating for diversity.

 

Sources:

  1. The Century Foundation
  2. Women’s Center