Women’s History Month: How State Employed Women Have Impacted Our State’s History

womens history month

By Amal Joury, ICSEW Chair

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, I want to encourage you to reflect on the work  the newly-formed Blacks United In Leadership and Diversity (BUILD) business resource group ICSEW does and continues to do.

Since before Washington gained its statehood from a territory in 1889 to now—women have been making an impact in government and laws regarding gender equity in all aspects of society. ICSEW is no exception.

Women’s History Month began as a celebration of Women’s History Week, the week of March 8th. In 1987, Congress passed a law designating March as Women’s History Month.

This year marks the centennial of the 19th amendment, which legalized the right to vote for United States citizens regardless of gender. Thus, the national theme for this year’s Women’s History Month, set by the National Alliance for Women’s History, is “Valiant Women of the Vote”. After decades of lobbying and fighting for women suffrage, women secured the right to vote on August 18, 1920 when the 19th amendment was ratified in the United States.

The fight for suffrage would not have been successful without women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Sojourner Truth and numerous lesser known women, like Harriet Forten Purvis, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Adelina “Nina” Otero-Warren, Zitkála-Šá, and more. Visit the Exhibit at the Library of Congress to learn more about the long battle women waged to secure the right to vote.

(Editor’s Note: The Washington State Historical Society, is hosting programs in communities throughout the state this year to commemorate the centennial of women’s suffrage, and has several free online exhibits and curricula, and offers some ways you can get involved. Visit https://www.suffrage100wa.com/ for more information.)

As part of the continued legacy of women fighting for their right to vote, and for equal participation in all facets of life, Washington’s former governor, Albert Rosellini, created the first iteration of the Interagency Committee of State Employed Women, ICSEW, in 1963 in response to President Kennedy’s Commission on the Status of Women.  This national commission was established to investigate questions regarding women’s equality in education, the workplace and under the law.

Washington state’s subsequent governors continued this work.  ICSEW expanded to include representation from educational institutes and the judicial system in Washington. In 2006, ICSEW was opened to representation from all state agencies and institutes of higher education.

Most recently, Gov. Jay Inslee reaffirmed ICSEW via Executive Order 16-04 – committing his administration’s support to improving the lives of state employed women.

Part of ICSEW’s mission is examining and defining issues that pertain to the rights and needs of women employed in state government and to make policy recommendations to the governor and state agencies with respect to desirable changes in programs, polices, and laws especially in the area of education, training, career development and other conditions of employment.

ICSEW is also given the authority to advise state agencies on the development and implementation of comprehensive and coordinated policies, plans and programs focusing on the special issues and needs of women in state government.

Please join BUILD and ICSEW in celebrating Women’s History Month by taking time to learn and reflect on our collective national past, honor the sacrifices made by the scores of women before us, celebrate their hard won successes, and create visibility around the gaps that remain. There is still a lot of work to be done to bring us all closer to equality.

For a comprehensive look at ICSEW history, visit our About page.

To subscribe to BUILD’s mailing list, click here: Join our Mailing List

Megan Matthews, BUILD chair also contributed to this article.

 

Agents of Change: Washington State History Museum Celebrates Jewish Women

The year 2020 marks the centennial of women’s suffrage in America. Several organizations have holding celebratory and historical events as the anniversary draws near. The Washington State History Museum has a new exhibit celebrating Jewish women who have influenced Washington state’s history and culture. It opens April 28, 2019.

black and white photo of two women
Image from Washington State Jewish Historical Society digital archives

Agents of Change: 20 Remarkable Jewish Women of Washington State opens April 28 at Washington State History Museum

Tacoma, WA – What do Carrie Brownstein, Nancy Pearl, and Marcie Sillman have in common? They are all from Washington. They’re all in the public eye – Brownstein co-created both the Washington-based band Sleater-Kinney and the sketch comedy television show Portlandia. Librarian Nancy Pearl is a best-selling author (the Book Lust series, George & Lizzy, and others), literary critic and the former Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library. Marcie Sillman is a broadcast journalist and NPR radio show host working with Seattle’s KUOW. One more thing they have in common is their inclusion in Agents of Change: 20 Remarkable Jewish Women of Washington State, an exhibition opening on April 28 at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. The exhibition is on view through June 2, 2019.

Featuring women who have made their mark in a wide array of fields including arts, activism, athletics, education, business, diplomacy, law, politics, religion, and philanthropy, Agents of Change shows the breadth and depth of the contributions Jewish women are making every day in our state and our world.

The Washington State Jewish Historical Society (WSJHS) developed this landmark exhibition in honor of the society’s 50th anniversary in 2018. They also developed award-winning supporting media for their digital museum, including videos and a podcast series.

“2018 was the Year of the Woman,” said WSJHS Executive Director Lisa Kranseler, “and as we were debating possible subjects for our 50th anniversary exhibit, it became obvious that this was the perfect choice. From our mothers and grandmothers to our teachers and community leaders, we have all been powerfully influenced by strong women who have guided and changed our lives. This exhibit is a way to honor all those women by focusing on twenty exceptional representatives from our state.”

Opening Day: Visitors can learn about the inspiration behind Agents of Change in the gallery at 1:45 on April 28 at the Washington State History Museum. Hear from Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) Director Jennifer Kilmer and WSJHS Director Lisa Kranseler, as well as special guests. WSHS and WSHJS members are invited to mingle on the museum’s mezzanine for an opening-day reception from 1:30-3:00.

“We are honored to feature Agents of Change at the Washington State History Museum. It is a terrific example of our mission in action – that is, partnering with our communities to explore how history connects us all,” said WSHS Director Jennifer Kilmer. “These leaders have made significant contributions in Washington and beyond. We’re proud to tell their stories. We’re excited to kick-off the upcoming 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in our nation with this celebration of Jewish women making history in Washington.”

More information at WashingtonHistory.org/events.

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Washington State Historical Society partners with our communities to explore how history connects us all. The Society’s most visible activity, the Washington State History Museum (WSHM) is located in Tacoma’s downtown core along Pacific Avenue among a thriving cultural scene. The museum features interactive permanent exhibitions about Washington’s past in the Great Hall, unique rotating exhibitions highlighting the Society’s collections, and dynamic feature exhibitions.

Address: 1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma, WA 98402
Hours: 10:00AM–5:00PM Tuesday through Sunday. Third Thursday of each month, 10:00AM–8:00PM.
Admission: Free for members; Adults $14; seniors (age 65+), students (age 6-17) and military (with ID) $11; free for children 5 and under; family rate $40 (up to two adults and four children under age 18). Patrons with a Washington Quest card and licensed Washington Foster Parents can attend for $1 per person or $2 per family.

Washington State Jewish Historical Society is dedicated to discovering, preserving, and disseminating the history of the Jews of Washington state and promotes interest in and knowledge of the life, history, and culture of the Jewish people and communities through publications, exhibits, displays, speakers, tours, and performance. For more information, please visit www.wsjhs.org.