Women's History Not Important According to US Social Study Standards Study

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National Women's History Museum releases report finding lack of women's representation in analysis of what states mandate public schools teach students

The current standards represent an opportunity for thoughtful dialog around women's history in K-12 public education...If we can't get women into the textbooks, we can bring them into the classroom.

The National Women's History Museum released Where are the Women?: A Report on the Status of Women in the United States examining the status of women's history in state level social studies standards. Learning standards describe what states expect students to know and be able to do at specific stages of education. The report and analysis find that women's experiences and stories are not well integrated into U.S. state history standards. The lack of representation and context in state-level materials presupposes that women's history is even less represented at the classroom level.

"The current standards represent an opportunity for thoughtful dialog around women's history in K-12 public education, and more in-depth explorations of how U.S. state standards present women's history," said Catherine Allgor, Ph.D., president of the Massachusetts Historical Society and member of the National Women's History Museum's board of directors. "We hope this report inspires teachers, scholars, students and parents to examine the ways in which women's historical experiences are presented in schools. If we can't get women into the textbooks, we can bring them into the classroom."

Key Findings
o Standards prioritize listing women of accomplishment, which reflects state standards overall tendency to celebrate individual leadership and achievement.
o State standards do not collectively address the breadth and depth of women's history. Rather, standards address a minority of topics and groups.
o Standards over emphasize women in their domestic roles without placing women's activities in broader economic, cultural or political contexts.
o Standards emphasize a small number of topics or eras that are commonly associated with being women-centric such as the Progressive Era and Woman Suffrage/Voting Rights.
o Standards do not reflect current trends or ideals in girls' education. While there is an increasing public interest in motivating girls to embrace science, technology, engineering and mathematics, social studies standards provide few historic examples of women or their achievements in these fields. 

Project Methodology
The Museum's project team read the social studies standards for each state and the District of Columbia. Project staff highlighted every standard that referred to a woman or a topic associated with women. Each standard was copied into a database. Researchers-following guidance from the Museum's advisory council of scholars, public historians and educators-reviewed the database entries to ensure that the selected standards met the project's definitions of history about women. In the final step, researchers counted the number of times women's names and key terms occurred within the standards. The analysis describes the way women's history is characterized in US K-12 social studies standards. It suggests women are excluded because the standards' historiographical framework preferences male-oriented exceptional leadership while overemphasizing women's domestic roles.

For more information about the report can be found here and the full report can be found here.

About the National Women's History Museum
Founded in 1996, the National Women's History, a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has researched, collected and exhibited the contributions of women to the social, cultural, economic and political life of our nation in the context of our collective history. The Museum uses innovative and engaging means including an interactive website, online and physical exhibits, educational programs, live presentations, social media and other outreach efforts to communicate the breadth of American women's experiences and accomplishments to reach the widest possible audience. Through these efforts and its future physical presence, the Museum serves as a guiding light to inspire people regardless of gender, class, race or culture to move into the future with respect, equal confidence, greater partnership and opportunity. For additional information visit http://www.WomensHistory.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Shanna Duncan
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