Ode to Women

Stop pawning off of women

Editorial Staff

In the game of chess, the queen is the most powerful piece. She is vital to the game’s success, and without her, it can be difficult to win. While the king is known to be the most important piece to capture, its effect on the game is minimal. The queen is the strongest, yet still underappreciated.

To honor Women’s History Month, we’d like to take the time to celebrate some incredible women and their contributions to our world. As a community, it’s important to take a step back and remember the powerful, influential and overlooked women who are the backbone of society and our modern-day world.

When people think about innovators in today’s society, they often think of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and other pioneers who are considered the creators of modern technology. What most people don’t consider is that behind the scenes of many innovations, there was usually a woman involved. Yet she’s rarely publicly credited.

This pattern of women’s credit being stolen is so common that it has a name: the Matilda effect. According to Scientific American, the Matilda effect is when women, specifically in the scientific community, do not receive recognition for their discoveries and work; instead the men in their field receive. The term was named after suffragist and abolitionist Matilda Joslyn Gage, who famously said, “Although women’s scientific education has been grossly neglected … some of the most important inventions of the world are due to her.” In the case of the Matilda effect, this refers to the fact that the patriarchy puts women at a natural disadvantage.

Hedy Lamarr invented frequency hopping technology and allowed for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to exist. Everyday people across the world mindlessly connect AirPods to their phones multiple times. The name you may think of in relation to this habit is Steve Jobs. However, Lamarr’s design was crucial to the creation of all Apple products. She did not receive any money for her invention despite her major contribution in the development, and was not largely recognized until after her death. Revolutionary in advancing wireless technology, the name Hedy Lamarr should ring through your ears every time you put on Bluetooth headphones.

Like Lamarr, many women have been overshadowed due to the patriarchal systems in their lives. Despite this, women outside of the science and technology field have also achieved major milestones in different ways.

Shirley Chisholm was the first Black woman elected into Congress in 1968. Chisholm advocated for civil rights for women and  people of color – she even earned the nickname “Fighting Shirley.” Chisholm served seven terms in Congress and once said, “I am the people’s politician.” She opened up a new set of doors for aspiring young women of color in the world of politics, encouraging a new generation to achieve their goals.

Dora Richter was one of the first recorded transgender people to undergo a male-to-female sex change. Early on, Richter identified more with feminine clothing and social norms. As she grew older she felt more drawn to fully living as a woman. Richter was arrested by authorities various times for cross-dressing. Nine years after her initial surgery, as technology progressed, Richter underwent surgery to fully transform her body to be biologically in line with her identity. After her passing, the story of Richter’s bravery and perseverance blazed a path of inspiration for many transgender women now and to come.

Kamala Harris was not only the first woman to be elected as Vice President (VP) of the United States but also the first woman of color to do so. Harris previously served as a Senator for Calif

ornia and has been in politics and public service for many years. She served as a Deputy District Attorney in Oakland, California and specialized in violence, drugs and sexual abuse. She continued her legacy of breaking norms for women of color by being elected as Attorney General of California in 2010 and, most recently, by becoming VP of the U.S.

Women can be recognized just as easily as men; it does not take energy to give credit where credit is due. When society repeatedly fails to acknowledge these women, we fail women everywhere. Recognizing the daily triumphs of women is necessary. All people should be acknowledged for the work they’ve done. Let’s remind ourselves that Women’s History Month is not the only time to highlight important women: women should be celebrated and appreciated every day because being a woman is powerful enough. Thriving and living in a system that is built for men will always be an accomplishment. You don’t need to invent Bluetooth or become Vice President to be a strong woman – your existence is plenty. Every day, a queen puts a king in checkmate and, without her, the game couldn’t have been won.

Bessie Coleman was the first African American woman to earn her pilot’s license, trailblazing a path for women of color in the airline industry. She moved to France to pursue her dreams of being a pilot since it was illegal for her to do so in the U.S.. She gave various speeches on segregation and would only participate in non-segregated social events, which cost her a lot of money. In the end, her efforts earned her an honorable title as a woman fighting for women’s and Black rights. Unfortunately, she died in a plane accident and could not complete her dream of op

ening up a pilot school for African American women. 

Rosalind Franklin made the discovery of the molecular structure of DNA, and its density. Franklin discovered X-ray diffraction, which determined the atomic structure of crystals. It was a vital discovery in the science of DNA. Maurice Wilkins, a fellow scientist, heard about Franklin’s discovery and took her X-ray diffraction technology and used it to create a model that became famous to see what DNA really looked like. Franklin was not credited for her discovery or her research, but without it, Wilkins would not have been able to create the model. Wilkins and three other scientists were awarded Nobel Prizes for their work, while Franklin was not considered. In 1968, Wilkins published a memoir that admitted to Franklin’s large contribution. However, she was still robbed of her Nobel Prize and was not properly recognized as one of the most important women in science until after her death.