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WHM: History & Upcoming Events

Women's History Month.
Learn about the history of Women’s History Month, and upcoming events to celebrate!

Story by Madeline Klinger.

History and Gender Disparities

Origins of Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month arose out of International Women’s Day, the origins of which can be traced back to 1908, when 15,000 women marched through New York City to protest working conditions and demand voting rights. But it was not until 1978 that Women’s History Week emerged on the other side of the country – very close to us! – in Sonoma County. As other communities across the country caught on, women’s groups advocated for national recognition, which led President Jimmy Carter to declare the first “National Women’s History Week” in 1980. The week was chosen to include March 8th, International Women’s Day, but this meant that the dates changed every year, so that new congressional resolutions were needed each year to sanctify the week.

Finally, Congress passed Public Law 100-9 to designate March as “Women’s History Month” in order to recognize the often-overlooked contributions women have made to national history. As we continue to challenge the restrictions imposed by gender, take a moment to consider, regardless of your personal gender identity, what identifying as a woman means to you!

Gender Disparities in Eye Health

Globally, for every 100 men with vision impairment or blindness there are 108 women with blindness and 112 women with mild to severe vision impairment, this disparity is projected to increase. This can be attributed to a variety of factors, including longevity in cisgender women resulting in age-related macular degeneration, biological changes after pregnancy or menopause triggering thyroid eye disease, and social pressures such as the use of eye makeup or women prioritizing other family members’ healthcare over their own.

In less-industrialized countries, many women shoulder the burden of staying home to care for the family and have reduced access to healthcare overall. As optometrists, we can diminish this disparity by working to increase ease of access to healthcare for all women and better informing the general public about risk factors for eye diseases.

Gender Disparities in Optometry

A recent study (Simpson, et al., 2020) found that the wage gap between male and female optometrists is more than 13%, even after controlling for practice ownership, residency training, and employer-defined full-time work. Another study (Burton, et al., 2021) examined women’s influence in publishing eye health research. While female authorship increased from 28% to 37% over 2000-2019, women held only 24% of last authorships, 23% of editorships, and 11% editor-in-chief positions. This month, what can you do to increase female influence in optometry?

(Figure from Burton, et al., 2021)

Upcoming Events

Self Care + Sip Women’s Market

March 26th, 2023
12 PM – 5 PM
Uptown Square, Oakland: 1955 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

Shop a curated selection of emerging brands, yummy food, and mocktails. Portion of ticket sales will be donated to Coco Coalition, a social enterprise dedicated to curating holistic, safe, and empowering opportunities for women of the African Diaspora to connect, grow and thrive.

Learn More

More Bay Area Events

To learn about more events in the Bay Area celebrating Women’s History Month, click the button below for an article by the San Francisco Chronicle!

WHM Bay Area Events

Supporting Women-Owned Businesses

Check out this curated list of intersectional, women-owned businesses ranging from a magic & spirituality shop to art & stationery to clothing, and these women-owned businesses in Berkeley and the Bay Area that offer great gift ideas!

The Legacy of Dr. Shirley Graham

We’d like to recognize one woman in particular who is connected to our community by way of Andrew Graham, MA, Senior Biostatistician in Dr. Meng Lin’s Lab. Andrew shared with us that his mother, Dr. Shirley Graham, led a 9-year battle against sex and gender discrimination in academia. To read about the legacy of Dr. Shirley Graham, please click the button below.

Dr. Shirley Graham