“I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”
– Audre Lorde
Today we celebrate International Women’s Day. As we are all aware, women have been painfully under-represented and under-supported throughout history, and in the modern era. People will try and tell you there is no patriarchy anymore. People are wrong.
The theme of this year’s Women’s Day is #BeBoldForChange. In the current climate, it’s important that we do what we can to take groundbreaking action for all women. The World Economic Forum predicts that the gender gap won’t close until 2186. Does this even account for women of colour? Trans-women? We need to collaborate, support each other, and be BOLD in our actions to support all women.
Below are some women who have made a difference in psychology, philosophy, and language sciences. I hope they inspire you as women in your field.
Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986)
Simone de Beauvoir is famous for her philosophy and her feminism. She is a great inspiration for our future women philosophers. She used her work to highlight women’s oppression, and promote feminism. Sexuality and existentialist feminism were explored in one of her most well-known works, The Second Sex. Simone de Beauvoir is a well-known, and well-loved figure in the feminist movement. She is remembered as a great philosopher and is one of many inspirations to us all.
Angela Davis (1944-Present)
Philosophy may not be what immediately jumps to mind when you think of Davis. Most famous for being an activist for civil and women’s rights, it seems appropriate to highlight her association with philosophy on this day. Angela Davis discovered her love for Philosophy while studying French at Brandeis University. She became particularly interested in the works of Marcuse, and this led to her seeking graduate study in philosophy. Davis earned a masters, and eventually a doctorate in philosophy. This inspirational woman went on to be an assistant professor in philosophy until her arrest, and had later roles in philosophy at many universities. Angela Davis was a truly strong woman with a love of philosophy.
Inez Beverly Prosser (1897 – 1934)
Inez Beverly Prosser is regarded by many as the first African-American woman to earn her Ph.D. in Psychology*. Prosser’s voice was crucial in her time. Her dissertation addressed the education of children of colour. While it was not published, her work inspired that of researchers whose work was cited in the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling. Her experience as a person of colour, as an administrator, and as a teacher, contributed to her work on education and identity development. She achieved great strides and was an amazing woman.
*Some consider Ruth Winifred Howard to hold this title. She is also a totally awesome person who did awesome things in psychology. Look her up!
Maria Montessori (1870-1952)
As someone who is very interested in educational psychology, and who went to Montessori as a child, Maria Montessori is of special interest to me. Montessori was proficient in many academic areas including medicine, philosophy, and psychology. She is, of course, by far the most famous for her work in educational psychology. She did extensive work with children experiencing learning disabilities, and observation of children with mental disabilities. These interactions were fundamental to her future achievements in education. Montessori gave a great contribution to education and we still see the impact of her work and achievements today.
Anna Morpurgo Davies (1937-2014)
Davies was an Italian philologist who specialised in Indo-European linguistics. Her academic career was primarily spent at Oxford University as the Professor of Comparative Philology. She was born into a Jewish family, and under fascist racial laws put in place in 1938, she and her mother moved to Rome, surviving thanks to false papers. In Rome, she discovered a deep love of theoretical linguistics as a post-doctoral fellow. Davies is widely published in Indo-European grammar and known for her work in Anatolian languages, Luwian hieroglyphs, and Mycenaean Greek. Anna Morpurgo Davies was honoured and recognised for her work by many institutions. In 2001 she became an honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
María del Rosario Gutiérrez Eskildsen (1899-1979)
In Centla Municipality in Tabasco, there is a community named in honour of this impressive linguist, lexicographer, poet, and educator. Gutiérrez Eskildsen wrote many articles and books covering her diverse areas of interest. Grammar, linguistics, dialectology, language pedagogy, phonetics, and prosody were all areas which fascinated her. She shared her knowledge and works on these areas widely. Her life was dedicated to investigative and educational work, it was truly her passion. She did impressive work in her field, and is remembered for her studies of speech.
I hope some of these incredible women are of some inspiration to you. These are just some of the amazing women who have done work in our fields, there are many more, and many who don’t get the recognition they deserve.
This Women’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate all that we have achieved, that we can, and will achieve. Remember to celebrate all women today, and every day. Be open to recognising that even as women, some of us have privileges other women may not share, and we need to stand with these women as well.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them”
Lots of love to all you ladies,