Celebrating Women Faculty

April 19, 2023

A Berkeley View of Women’s History Month

This March, I’ve been thinking about the campus leaders and groups that champion women and their contributions to the Berkeley community.

What is Women’s History Month?

Since 1987, the month of March has been dedicated to the celebration of Women’s History Month. The presidential proclamation of a women’s history week was passed congressionally in 1981 and nationally declared. However, the National Women’s History Project persistently fought for the whole month. After years of congressional appeals and legal resolutions, the entirety of March was finally nationally recognized as a celebration of women.

This fight began in Santa Rosa, California — just an hour north of Berkeley. Women’s History Month started as a local celebration in Sonoma County. These protests resulted in the Education Task Force of the California Commission on the Status of Women (a California government initiative for gender equity) to achieve legal approval of “Women’s History Week” in 1978, and the recognition of March 8 as International Women’s Day. This sparked a national movement as other communities strived to initiate their own week-long celebrations, culminating in Carter’s presidential proclamation of National Women’s History week in 1980.

UC Berkeley was an adamant supporter of this movement. Although Berkeley had been admitting women since 1871 (two years after the university opened), complete integration and support of women for both students and staff alike took decades to realize. Now, UC Berkeley proudly highlights the work of Cal women of both past and present, encouraging increased representation and diversity to encapsulate the profound diversity the campus bolsters.

Berkeley Life