I received yet another "Going Away Party" invite in my email inbox the other day. Typically this would be disappointing to see another good friend move away but this year has been different. This year has been filled with many life changes. Between relocations, family and careers, some of my oldest friends have accomplished some amazing things.
In light of those accomplishments, the month of March just happens to be National Women's History Month. The month recognizes and celebrates the diverse and historic accomplishments of women. The 2013 theme, Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination, honors generations of women who throughout American history have used their intelligence, imagination, sense of wonder, and tenacity to make extraordinary contributions in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Women's responsibilities in the home, in the community and on the job continue to change. For example, 50 years ago a woman would hang washed clothes outside on a clothesline to dry, where today's modern washers and dryers have eliminated that necessity. Although modern conveniences are nice, the biggest change it seems is the change in opportunity and options.
President of the Hays-Caldwell Women's Center, Denise Trauth, says the role of women in our society has dramatically changed over the past 100 years, in no small part due to the actions and accomplishments of women. Today nearly half of the U.S. workforce is comprised of women.
A few of the obvious reasons are changes in families, law, workforce, sports and job compensation. Fewer women are staying at home and more women are attending college. Only 34% of women worked outside the home in 1950 whereas it's at 63% today. That compares to 70% of men. 30,000 women participated in intercollegiate sports in 1971 compared to 151,000 today and 300,000 girls participated in high school athletics in 1971, compared to 2.8 million today. In 1979, young women made 68 cents to every dollar a young man made. Today it's 91 cents. That's progress.
I'm fortunate to know many women taking risks and making a difference in people's lives. My friend, Alyssa, was recently promoted to Director of Pharmacy at the Hospital in Aspen. Stef decided to quit her marketing job this year and go back to school for nursing. Amanda is a stay-at-home mom with two little boys. Amy and Jill are thriving within their physical therapy careers and Dana left the security of her full-time design job to start her own company freelancing. In the meantime she trained for and completed her first Ironman competition. An Ironman triathlon consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon run. No bigs.
I feel like a proud parent. I am so excited for each of these women because I know they are following their passion and have grown from the ups and downs along the way. They are some of the most interesting people I know. I'm actually excited for one last hurrah with a departing friend because I know distance is not the barrier it once was. She will continue to do great things from across the country and thus make history in her own way.
Women are growing in numbers in law, medical fields, science labs, boardrooms, military, outer space, ministry, Congress, faculties, and university presidencies. That's all the more reason to celebrate International Women's Day on March 8. Women create history every day and it starts right in our own community. Take some time this month to salute the contributions and achievements of the hard-working women in your lives.