#HERStory100 Celebrates Women's Right to Vote and Women in STEM
It’s now been 100 years since the 19th Amendment passed, and projects like #HERStory100 — Women in STEM Women’s VOTE are commemorating the milestone ahead of this year’s election. The project features women in STEM, including astronauts, aerospace professionals, engineers, and more.
In a video about the initiative, influential leaders talk about the Women’s Vote Centennial — November 2 will be the 100th anniversary of the first U.S. election in which women could vote — and why the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment still matters for women and girls today.
CA: Where does HER Story begin?
CK: I decided to spearhead HER Story 100 because I wanted to do all I could to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. Also, I feel like the pandemic really overshadowed the 100th Anniversary [August 26th was the anniversary of its passage].
I produced a project in August called Our Story 100: Portraits of Change — a giant photo mosaic of Ida B. Wells in Union Station, in Washington, D.C., for the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission. It got a lot of big press for a few days, but other than that, I don’t think many people are aware of what this significant anniversary is about.
My intention of hearing from women in STEM fields is to help round out the conversations, as we’ve heard from so many politicians and celebrities. Some of the women in space and STEM literally made history through their accomplishments.
CA: How are these projects — celebrating women in space and celebrating women’s right to vote — connected?
CK: As I was producing the last Apollo gala, I was interviewing JoAnn Morgan, the first women engineer at Kennedy Space Center. We were giving her an award as a space pioneer. We began to talk about the first woman in her family to vote, her grandmother, and how her father encouraged her to believe in herself.
I realized there were so many women trailblazers in space like her that I had come to know over the years. So I began to ask them their thoughts about the women’s vote centennial. As I set my sights on commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment, I realized the voices of these women — the ones who worked in male-dominated technical fields — were worth hearing, especially at this critical time.
CA: What common themes emerged as you began your work?
CK: Something all the women in STEM that I spoke to had in common was a passion for their right to vote, and the need for more women in leadership roles, especially in technical fields. I’m constantly hearing from the aerospace companies that they want more women to work for them. But I feel the only way to attract more women is if there are more women role models.
"There is still an old boy’s club that prevails in space and STEM fields so it can feel not welcoming to women."
There is still an old boy’s club that prevails in space and STEM fields so it can feel not welcoming to women. Right now, NASA is promoting the Artemis program, the next missions to the moon in 2024, and the goal of putting the first woman on the moon. And yet, every photo-op is of a room full of white men. So, clearly, there’s a lot of work to do when a historic mission about a woman going to the moon is being presented by a room full of men.
Finally, one thing the women and I all agreed on was that the 19th Amendment was about more than just political and civic engagement. It opened up opportunities for women. And the only way to expand more opportunities for women and girls in the future is to have more women helping to make the laws, more women in leadership, and more visual representation – meaning seeing more women in management and executive roles. So if we vote for more women, or people who support women, then hopefully things will trend in a better direction for women and girls.
CA: What do you hope people take away from #HerStory100?
CK: I hope every woman who is able to will vote, and I hope they will not take their right to vote for granted. It took the suffragists decades to secure the right, and, even then, it only passed in 1920 by one vote of one man when Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment. And that was because his mother sent him a letter telling him to “be a good boy” and he changed his mind last minute.
It changed because one man had the courage to stand up for women. So my hope is that if people see these women, especially the ones who had the courage to be the first woman in their field, it’ll inspire them to not only vote but to seek opportunities they may have been too afraid of before to pursue.