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.

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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.

How the dangerously powerful words of two of history’s original “nasty women,” Olympe de Gouges and Mary Wollstonecraft, were silenced, suppressed, and nearly lost to history.

Almost 350 years after it was written, the feminist philosophy of François Poullain de la Barre still resonates on subjects like gender, prejudice, intersectionality, and the role of men in women’s fight for equality.

While the stories of history’s first female doctors of philosophy are inspiring, they also highlight the galling realities of women’s centuries-long struggle to obtain equal educational opportunities and professional and intellectual respect. Seen as a whole, they have the power to light a fire beneath armchair inspiration and provoke similarly bold and progressive action.

In an age when wealthy Americans visited Europe either to sell off their daughters in marriage to titled men or to buy up European culture and historical heritage, Edith Wharton and Natalie Clifford Barney went there in search of gender and intellectual equality. They found it in France.