We do it every week—sprinkle a dose of inspiration (a heartening story about some forceful woman) into our Wednesday Five column. Today we offer a treasure-trove of bracing stories, for this is the anniversary of the momentous day in 1920 when the Susan B. Anthony Amendment was ratified, and women (at last!) had the right to vote. Today is Women’s Equality Day, and attention must be paid.
Dispirited? Need a jolt of motivation? Go to the MAKERS: Women Who Make America site and browse its videos, which present the stories of contemporary women whose intelligence, courage, and grit have propelled them into jobs women have never before been allowed to do.
Barbara Burns, Coal Miner. Click image to view video.
Take Barbara Burns, coal miner, who found herself quite able to do this hard “man’s work”; who fought through (and won) a 13-year sexual harassment suit against her boss; and who squelched her fellow-miners’ sexual taunts with ease. Indeed, after the hilarious “Put on my bloomers!” episode she orchestrated, the miners no longer addressed her as “Barbie Doll.” Thereafter, she was “Miss Barbara.”
The women in these videos (200 of them!) are, notes executive producer Dyllan McGee, “groundbreaking women from all walks of life” who, in the past 50 years, have “shaken up the course of history and continue to inspire progress today.” Duly noted are those who were “groundbreakers” (first female firefighter, etc.); the pioneering lawyers and politicians; the Nobel Prize winners; the CEOs; the high-achieving executives. Most compelling, perhaps, are the stories of the many women who have won through to victory but whose stories are largely unknown—like that of Miss Barbara. (Hang on through the commercials for Makers sponsor Simple skincare; the stories are edited into short segments, so there’s much more to the video than you might think.)
Makers.com is a video initiative founded by Dyllan McGee and developed by AOL and PBS.” When she began researching this project eight years ago (originally as a profile of Gloria Steinem), McGee was amazed to learn that no one had made a documentary about women’s progress in America in the last 50 years. “As filmmakers, the thing we found most surprising—and intriguing—about this story is that it’s so vast and also so private,” McGee notes on the Makers website. “It includes not only the story of feminism and the political change taking place for women over the past 50 years, but also the personal stories happening behind the scenes of women fighting for equality in the workplace and at home.”
The galvanizing documentary film MAKERS: Women Who Make America, by Kunhart McGee Productions—which aired on TV this past February—can be viewed free on the Makers website, along with these 200 videos. They are a permanent and growing archive that (finally!) acknowledges the powerful impact women have had on American life.
Browse them. They’ll give you heart.