March was Women’s History Month, so let’s look back briefly at 3 women from the past who have opened doors for women in the future. With this thought, let’s also consider who WE are opening doors for today as we lead our teams and our companies out of the Pandemic and into a slightly new world.
Born in 1860, Jane Addams became a progressive social reformer, activist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner. She never married, but instead opted for a lifetime commitment to social reform. She is responsible for bringing what is called the Settlement Houses to the US. She founded Hull House on Chicago’s poor, industrial west side. The goal of Hull House was for educated women to live there and share knowledge with the poor that lived in the community. Besides Hull House, Addams and other progressive women
reformers lobbied for a juvenile court system, protective labor legislation for women, more playgrounds and kindergartens in Chicago and so much more. She was also a founding member of the National Child Labor Committee which played a significant role in passing the Federal Child Labor Law in 1916.
A former slave, Sojourner Truth was an outspoken advocate for abolition and women’s rights in the 19th century. She was born into slavery in 1797 as Isabella Bomfree. She was bought and sold four times and endured harsh physical labor and violent punishments. She had 5 children and a year before slavery was abolished in New York, she ran away with her infant child Sophia. Truth ran to a nearby abolitionist family, the Van Wageners, and they bought her freedom for $20. In the early 1830s Truth was participating in the religious revivals that were sweeping New York and she became quite a charismatic speaker. In 1843, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth as she felt called to preach the truth. In 1851, Truth delivered her now famous speech “Ain’t I a Women?” at a women’s rights conference in Akron, Ohio. In this speech she challenged the prevailing notions of that time related to racial and gender inferiority and inequality.
The Little League World Series started in 1947 and since that time there have been over 9000 participants…. But only 18 of them have been girls. In 1972, Marla Pepe started the game, but was forced to leave when the opposing team objected. A lawsuit was filed and eventually won saying that girls COULD participate in Little League. This opened the door for girls to begin playing and in 2014 the 4th American girl and 18th overall participated. Her name was Mo’ne Davis and she became the first girl to pitch a
winning game in the Little League World Series! Mo’ne Davis is a name we are likely to see more of in the future, but for right now she is playing college softball for Hampton University.
What doors are you opening for those who follow you? As a leader, are you stepping
out and introducing your rock stars so they can succeed in the world that is rising out of
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