International Women’s Day

Last year on this day, I got flowers delivered to my office.  Now, this is no ordinary thing for me.  I wasn’t dating anyone.  I hadn’t recently accomplished anything great.  I read the card and it said “Happy International Women’s Day. We’re proud of you.”  (Side story – the card wasn’t signed by anyone… so I went several days wondering who sent me flowers, later to find out the flower company just forgot to add “Love, Mom and Dad” – thanks for the mystery, flowers company!).  This gesture by my parents meant a great deal to me.  To be honest, I never really thought about myself as a woman leader.  I could see them sending me flowers on my birthday or even Valentine’s Day, but I never would have imagined them sending me flowers on International Women’s Day. So it got me thinking – why would they do that? Why this day? They must see something in me as a woman that I don’t see in myself.

This year in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program, I’ve had the opportunity to explore this part of my identity even more.  I was still struggling with why this was an important part of my identity, and this is one reason I wanted to engage in a practicum at the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.  I wanted to figure out what difference it makes to be a woman in a male dominated world.

Looking at our history, women have had to and continue to overcome many obstacles.  In the U.S., we weren’t granted to opportunity to vote or run for public office until 1920 (and there are still some countries in the world that don’t have women’s suffrage, such as Saudi Arabia).  And still, the gender gap in public office is wide – in the House, there are currently 360 men and 75 women, and in the Senate there are only 17 women compared with 83 men.  There are five times as many men making decisions that affect both sexes equally.  And Iowa is one of four states to never elected a woman to congress.

We’re still working on closing the gender pay gap, the number of women in STEM fields, and, according to CNN Money, in 2006, there were only 10 women running Fortune 500 companies, and only 20 in the top 1,000.  We have a long ways to go.

So, we celebrate the progress we have made, and we are reminded of the work that needs to yet be done.  International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It honors the work of the Suffragettes, celebrates women’s success, and reminds us of inequities still to be addressed.

Who is a woman who has impacted your life?  Who is a woman who is quietly making change, without even realizing it? Recognize that person today… a simple “thank you” or “keep up the good work” can go a long way.

Amanda Martin is doing a practicum in the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center. She can be reached at



About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on March 8, 2011, in Events and Celebrations, Feminism, Herstory and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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