When the phrase “Behind every great man is a great woman” was first made famous in the mid-1940s, it was no doubt intended as a compliment — a way of acknowledging the role that women played in supporting their partners and managing the family.
But to distill a woman’s role down to ‘facilitator’ is not only minimization of the female force, but it’s also just plain wrong.
Open the history books and you’ll find no shortage of incredible, inspiring women who helped shape society whilst still being a mom and wife, if needed. Take Eleanor Roosevelt, for one, who not only stood side-by-side with her partner, Franklin D. Roosevelt, through his presidency but also raised five children and still had time for an impressive amount of humanitarian work.
Indeed, there are plenty of examples of determined, successful, and inspiring women today. Beyonce Knowles-Carter, J K Rowling, and Maria Sharapova, to name but a few. These women have helped pave the way for others to follow in their footsteps, whether that’s onto a Grand Slam tennis court, the stage of a sold-out arena tour, into the White House, or the male-dominated publishing industry.
In truth, we should be celebrating the achievements of women every day. But March of each year provides a special opportunity to put women in the spotlight, with Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day.
But with so much to cover, from the first Women’s Day in 1909 to modern women’s rights movements like #MeToo, how do you start constructing lesson plans for Women’s History Month?
To find out, let’s go back to the start…
Why do we celebrate Women’s History Month? And why should schools take part?
Women have been petitioning for equality — be it in pay, right to vote, or opportunity — since 1848. That being said, the Women’s History Month only became an official celebration in 1987, almost 130 years later! Before then, women’s history was given one week, starting March 8th, each year.
Today, schools across the States (and indeed, much of the world) mark Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with a series of special events, classes, and workshops. But why?
Why is it a teacher’s place to champion a pro-equality message and commemorate the lives and successes of memorable women?
You cannot be what you cannot see
For young girls, there are few things more important than having a strong, female role model. And when educators bring stories of inspiring women into the classroom, they help female students see that there’s a world of possibility available to them.
Crucially, this doesn’t override or cancel out the support male students get. It simply helps level the playing field.
Reflecting on what has changed, and why, helps kids develop critical thinking
No doubt that the women’s rights movement has come on leaps and bounds in recent decades. But why have some landmark achievements taken place, where others have not?
For example: why is it that women have been able to vote in the US for 100 years, but are still only paid 80.7 cents for every $1 a man earns, even after the US Equal Pay Act of 1963?
It’s these thought-provoking questions that will stimulate critical thought and debate in the classroom, especially amongst older students who may be starting out in their first part-time jobs.
Celebrating female achievement helps break down stereotypes, and that benefits everyone (not just the girls)
To turn this around, both girls and boys need to see that women can step away from traditionally female career trajectories. In turn, making space for boys to dream about becoming whatever it is they want to — not just what society reinforces for them.
And the best way to do that? By showcasing some truly inspirational women…
Bring Women’s History Month into the classroom with these worksheet bundles
From scientists to sports stars, these worksheet bundles will inspire girls and boys of all ages:
Women’s History Month worksheets for kids #1: Dr. Sally Ride
Let’s be honest, you can’t aim much higher than the stars. And that’s exactly where Dr. Sally Ride found herself — as the first American woman in space.
What’s more, not only was Dr. Ride the first female, she was also the youngest person to have broken through Earth’s atmosphere.
Kids will love seeing the world through Sally’s eyes, via our 20-page Dr. Sally Ride worksheet bundle. Using these exercises, kids can hear all about long-lasting legacy and even write down questions they’d love to have asked her — be it about space travel or simply being a woman in NASA.
Women’s History Month worksheets for kids #2: Hope Solo
At recess, do the boys still play soccer whilst the girls sit and talk?
Sometimes we don’t even realize how ingrained gender roles really are! But who better to dismantle the ‘soccer is for boys’ myth than Hope Solo — an Olympic gold medal-winning goalkeeper for Team US?
Our 24-page Hope Solo worksheet bundle follows Hope’s life, fighting for her chance to play soccer at school, right the way through to taking home the top prize at the 2011 Olympics in Greece. Now a representative for the Women’s Sports Foundation, “advancing the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity”, Hope is truly an inspiration to us all.
And why not take this lesson outside and encourage the boys and girls to form mixed-gender teams, for a friendly game of soccer in Solo’s name?
Women’s History Month worksheets for kids #3: Mary Anning
Born in the UK, Mary Anning was a self-taught paleontologist, who helped advance fossil studies on England’s Jurassic Coast.
If you haven’t heard of her before, don’t worry. Now is the perfect time to discover her incredible story for yourself, and then recount it to your class. You’ll find fact files, worksheets, discovery timelines, and more in our 22-page Mary Anning bundle. And imagine the fun your students will have re-enacting Mary’s search for dinosaur bones in the playground — what could you find?
Women’s history should be taught all year round
Whilst these incredible women deserve a special mention throughout March, women’s history is not something to forget once April rolls around.
Instead, always consider the message you’re sending out to kids. Use worksheets to stick to the facts, and then make sure you’re engaging both boys and girls equally — no matter the subject at hand.
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Link will appear as Why is it important to celebrate International Women’s Day in schools? (+9 inspiring worksheet bundles to use throughout Women’s History Month): https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 4, 2020