Labels and stereotypes, long used to subordinate and marginalize women in history, need to be opposed, not embraced.

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“While… many of the world’s most important inventions are due to woman, the proportion of feminine inventors is much less than of masculine, which arises from the fact that woman does not possess the same amount of freedom as man. Restricted in education, industrial opportunities, and political power, this is one of many instances where her degradation reacts injuriously upon the race.”


-Matilda Joslyn Gage, 1883
Quoted in Forget About Jack, You Don’t Know Matilda (but you should)

Katharine Houghton Hepburn helped American women secure the vote and reproductive freedom. Her daughter was a four-time Oscar winner. Chances are, you know about the actress, but not the activist.

Women played significant and important roles in the American Revolution. Many broke traditional gender roles and suffered as much as the men they served beside. Marauchie Van Orden’s bravery at the Battles of Saratoga in 1777 earned her the rank of soldier and the respect of George Washington.

Matilda Joslyn Gage, who wrote about how cumulative advantage (a principle not named until a century later) erased women and their achievements from history, was herself erased from history because of cumulative advantage. The reason why You Don’t Know Matilda involves the Bible and science.

As the World Economic Forum suggests gender parity is 200 years away, a look at how researching and writing about women from the past 600 years give me purpose and motivation, and constantly remind me that another 200 years is far too long.

What the treatment of two of history’s original “nasty women,” Mary Hays and Mary Darby Robinson, can tell us about how society has long consigned outspoken women to infamy or obliteration.