Skip to main content

The women you don't know -- yet

By Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Barbara Mikulski
updated 5:45 PM EST, Mon March 3, 2014
Early 20th century actress Hedy Lamarr invented technology key to modern-day cell phones.
Early 20th century actress Hedy Lamarr invented technology key to modern-day cell phones.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • March is National Women's Month
  • Four members of Congress are pushing for a National Women's History Museum
  • They say that as the story of our country is told, women have tended to be left out of the telling

Editor's note: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-New York), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) are part of a bipartisan effort in Congress to establish the National Women's History Museum in Washington.

(CNN) -- Did you know that the "frequency hopping" technology that is vital to much of our military technology and helps keep your cell phone and your GPS devices secure was developed and patented by a famous movie star?

Did you know that there was an amazing 16-year-old patriot who outdid Paul Revere, riding 45 miles in the pouring rain to warn New York colonial militias that "the British are coming"?

Did you know that there was a secret agent, code named "355," who worked for George Washington's band of spies, the Culper Ring? The agent supplied key intelligence on British activities during the Revolutionary War, and she was so good at keeping a secret that we still don't know her real name.

If you don't know about all these people, it's understandable. Their stories aren't told widely or often -- perhaps because they were all women. For some reason or other, when the story of our country is told, women -- really great women -- have tended to be left out of the telling.

You see the results everywhere you look:

-- A survey of U.S. history textbooks found that only 10% of the individuals identified in the texts were women.

-- Less than 8% of the 2,560 national historic landmarks chronicle the achievements of women.

-- Of the 210 statues in the U.S. Capitol, only 15 are of female leaders.

That's the bad news. The good news is that thanks to a strong bipartisan effort in Congress, we may soon be one step closer to addressing this imbalance by establishing a National Women's History Museum in Washington. Together, we have introduced a common-sense bill to move this idea forward.

Motherhood revived her Wall St. career
Clinton: 'Thick skin' needed for politics
Obama: End 'Mad Men' workplace policies

We have more than 73 bipartisan co-sponsors in the House, 19 in the Senate and a national coalition of women's groups behind us. We recognize money is tight -- that's why we're not asking for taxpayer support. Private donations would fund the museum's construction and operation.

A vital part of recognizing equal rights for women is acknowledging and commemorating the deep and lasting contributions women have made throughout history. When young people visit our nation's capital, they should have a chance to be just as inspired by women's accomplishments as men's.

We establish and operate museums, not just as some kind of giant drawer in which to store our memorabilia, but as way to celebrate our accomplishments, affirm our shared values and preserve the full and accurate story of our common history. And unfortunately, only half of that story is presently being told.

The stories of courageous and pioneering Americans such as abolitionist Harriet Tubman, astronaut Sally Ride, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and the founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low, will inform and inspire future generations.

The remarkable women who helped to make this country what it is today deserve to have their histories told and preserved for the ages. Their stories of success are the stories that will inspire and encourage millions of women. Our daughters and our sons deserve the chance to learn the story -- the full story -- of how this amazing country came to be.

And by the way, the movie star inventor? That was Hedy Lamarr.

The 16 year-old who rode farther than Paul Revere was Sybil Ludington.

And the spy, code named "355"? Well, we still don't know the name -- but we know the patriot was a "she."

And just wait until you see all the other amazing women and American history you'll learn about one day soon when the National Women's History Museum opens.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Sen. Susan Collins and Sen. Barbara Mikulski.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT