Carolyn Maloney Leads Charge for National Women’s History Museum

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The nation’s capital includes museums for the postal service, textiles and spies, but lacks a museum to recognize the rich history and accomplishments of women in the U.S. That could soon change with an upcoming vote on New York Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s bill, HR 863,  that would establish a Congressional commission to plan for and study for such a museum’s creation.

3586563038_bba026df90_zMaloney has been working to establish that museum for nearly 20 years, first introducing a bill in 1997. This year, the commission bill finally gained traction and now has the support of leaders in both parties, including Republican leader Eric Cantor (Va.)  and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). Conservative Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) is the lead Republican cosponsor.

Says Rep. Maloney,

Whether you’re reading a history text book or visiting our nation’s historic sites and the museums on our National Mall, women are largely missing. While the historical experiences of men are well represented in existing museums, women’s achievements are often omitted. The fact is that women played key roles in virtually every landmark event in our history. A National Women’s History Museum would help restore the balance by presenting their amazing narratives and highlighting the important contributions of the women who shaped our nation.

The bill is likely to come to the House floor next week. Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Susan Collins (R-ME) are leading the Senate effort, S. 398, with 22 bipartisan cosponsors. More information on the House bill can be found at Maloney’s website.

Crossposted from the Feminist Majority Foundation Blog

Photo of women’s suffrage parade in New York City, May 6, 1912, from Wikimedia Commons. Photo of Carolyn Maloney from Flickr user Freedom to Marry under license from Creative Commons 2.0

 

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Kathy Bonk is cofounder and executive director of the Communications Consortium Media Center in Washington, D.C. She is co-author of The Jossey-Bass Guide to Strategic Communications for Nonprofits.

Comments

  1. I think it’s great that women in politics are taking an interest in representing women in other areas as well. It is difficult enough for women to obtain positions of power and I think it’s important for them to realize why it was so difficult and work to change those circumstances. One of the reasons women are undervalued in our society is that we do not give any credit to the numerous females that contributed to science, art, math, and numerous other fields. For example, the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA was actually made by Rosalind Franklin, but has been attributed to male scientists Crick, Watson, and Wilkins who received the noble prize for it. If a National Women’s History Museum existed, it would make the public more aware of how much women have improved our society and how ignored their achievements have been.

    This museum really needs to come to fruition because currently women are underrepresented in art and science museums as well. According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, only 28% of fine art solo exhibitions focus on women, even though over 50% of all artists are women. In addition, female artists only make 10-30% of what their male counterparts do (Bader), which is a factor in the discrimination they face when being admitted into museums. Hopefully, opening this museum will help shed light and create a better understanding of the circumstances that led to the discrimination women still face today. It’s great to have politicians like Carolyn Maloney willing to push women’s previously ignored achievements to the forefront.

    Sources:
    Bader, Eleanor J. “Women Artists Still Face Discrimination”. Truthout. Truthout, 10 May 2012. Web. 25 Nov 2014.

    ”Get the Facts.” National Museum of Women in the Arts. NMWA, n.d. Web. 25 Nov 2014.

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