Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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In the early 90's, I read a book where I encountered a reference to Hildegard von Bingen. She was a poet, musician, painter, and counselor to popes and princes, among others. What I found especially amazing was that she lived in the 12th century Europe at a time that, I thought, women had no access to education or power. And yet, Hildegard von Bingen appeared to have both!

I do not recall learning about her in my history classes. My schooling left me with an impression that women did not contribute much of significance to our civilization other than as caretakers of their families. There were queens, of course, but they were rarely monarchs in their own right.

So then the next question presented itself: How many other accomplished women were there about whom we learned little or nothing in school?

I started searching and discovered that the list of names was endless! You can find books about them, though you may have to search a little harder than if you were looking for information about men. (I'll add links to some books currently in print but, please, don't stop there!). Sometimes there are whole books written about these women, but often you find just a sentence or two. The point is: women accomplished far more than we officially give them credit for. Their contributions are quite impressive, especially considering that they worked without societal support and often in spite of legal restrictions.

Even today, women's contributions are acknowledged less readily than men's. Their names and accomplishments are still being left out of school textbooks. Women, in general, are paid less for their work, too. Embarrassing, isn't it?

I think it's time to give women their due. They deserve credit according to their contribution, not according to their sex. We need to know what they did and how they did it so that we may learn from them and be inspired by them. We need this to be common knowledge.

This is just a beginning...

Danuta

P.S. I'm occasionally asked for my credentials. I have none in women's studies other than putting this site together and learning about the subject as I go along. My degree (M.S.) is in cell biology.
 



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