In recent years, there’s been a lot of scrutiny about the people and deeds we honor and memorialize in public spaces. That has included long overdue efforts to remove statues of Confederate generals, scrub racist place names, and more. One area where we still have a lot of work to do is to ensure women’s stories are being widely and accurately told in our national monuments, historic sites, museums and classrooms. As a woman, this lack of recognition makes me think women’s history is still seen as not important.
According to one shocking report, only 6 percent of American monuments depict non-fictional women. There are more statues of mermaids (22) than Harriet Tubman (21). Most statues are dedicated to white men, with no US-born Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, or self-identified LGBTQ+ people on the list.
Obviously, women have made innumerable contributions in every field, but more of their stories should be widely told. For example, women have been leaders in the environmental conservation field and helped drive the 20th-century conservation movement, yet men have overshadowed their work. This gender gap extends to schools’ curricula as well. One study found that K-12 schools taught students about the historical contributions of three men for every one woman. It also found that the women mentioned were primarily white (62 percent) and that education standards tend to emphasize women in domestic roles.
To tell a more equitable and fairer story of the U.S., we need to talk about women while amplifying and celebrating their critical work – past and present. And those stories must include Black and Brown, trans, LGBTQ, Indigenous and other women who have been left out of certain narratives and have often been barred from transformative moments and movements in U.S. history, including the women’s suffrage movement.
Below you’ll find some of the few public lands that preserve and commemorate women’s remarkable legacies and lasting contributions.