“Women’s History is Just History:” Social Studies Department Introduces New Women’s Studies Elective for Next Year

Caitlyn Rocker, Staff Writer

Sacagawea. Harriet Tubman. Susan B. Anthony. Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  

You’ve probably heard these names.  

But what about Henrietta Lacks? Gertrude Stein? Dorothea Dix?  

In history classes, there are a few influential women sprinkled into the curriculum, but many are overlooked, too. 

To address this gap, next year, the social studies department is adding a one-semester women’s studies elective, open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors. 

AP U.S. History teacher Lauren Hall will be teaching the class next year. “Women’s history is just history,” said Hall in an email.  

Hall said the objective of the course is to learn about the impact women have had on scientific research, arts, politics, activism, literature and more, and what economic and social struggles they endured and conquered throughout American history. 

“The class runs in a chronological format, starting with the impact of indigenous women and going through the modern era,” said Hall. 

Junior Payton Key said many historical figures and achievements are predominantly masculine, so she’s looking forward to learning about influential women who haven’t received much of the spotlight. 

“I want to learn the other half of U.S. history that we never get to learn in school. Everything we’re taught is through the lens of men’s achievements,” Key said in a text message. “So, I want to hear the voices of millions of women that have been silenced or dismissed throughout history.”  

Junior Aubrey Webb agrees.  

“The value of having a class about women is seeing how half the population is overlooked for most of history, but still manage to change the world,” said Webb, who plans to take the course next year.  

Hall said she wants her students to “think about representation” through taking the class. 

“I certainly hope it reaches students and inspires them to have a voice or at least feel their voice is validated,” she said. “This course is not just for female students just because it is women’s studies. It is for all students.” 

Key, who is the president of the 21Club, hopes the class will inspire fellow girls taking the class to take on leadership roles. 

“It is about showing people that women have been doing the work all along. Women in leadership isn’t new. Women being WELCOMED and EXPECTED in the leadership is the goal,” Hall wrote.  

If students learn one thing from the course, Hall said she wants it to be this: 

Women aren’t an exception or a sidebar in the story of the development of any society – they are a focal player,” Hall said.  

“At a time where we debate topics such as paid maternity leave, equal wages, women’s health and other topics, my hope is that my students are equipped with the skills to demand a seat at the table to discuss those topics,” Hall said.