Women's History Month

Monthly Highlights

Monthly Highlights – March 2023

March is Women’s History Month. This month, the California History-Social Science Project is focusing on the intersectional experiences of women in history. Intersectionality is the concept that describes the multiple, often layered identities and experiences that people live. By emphasizing intersectionality when investigating history, teachers support students with a more holistic understanding of historical people and experiences. 

Access previous Women’s History Month resources by visiting our Monthly Highlights Archive.

Featured Teaching Resources 

  1. Heroes
    1. This primary source set asks students to consider the actions and characteristics of people who have made notable contributions in history and their community. The investigative questions have students determining who was/is a hero and the difference he/she made. 
    2. The primary source set includes biographies and images of heroic people like Dr. Marie Curie and Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor. 
    3. HSS Standard 2.5: What makes someone heroic? Who are some people who made a difference in our lives?
  2. The American Revolution
    1. This inquiry set which features biographies works well in 8th grade and 11th grade classrooms. Students will investigate questions: How did individuals challenge gender and sexual norms during the era of the American Revolution? What was the significance of the Revolution to those who existed outside of gender and sexual binaries? How did the social status of people transgressing gender and sexual norms in the Revolutionary era shape people’s reactions to them? 
    2. Teach to the FAIR Act and access more classroom-ready resources on LGBTQ History Through Primary Sources
    3. HSS Standards: 8.3 Students understand the foundation of the American political system and the ways in which citizens participate in it. 8.4 Students analyze the aspirations and ideals of the people of the new nation. 11.1 Students analyze the significant events in the founding of the nation and its attempts to realize the philosophy of government described in the Declaration of Independence.
  3. The 1920s
    1. This inquiry set provides resources that frame the 1920s as a decade of diverse social and cultural developments, political anti-radicalism, and intense nativism. The primary sources help students inquire into questions like, “how did ideas of citizenship change over time?” “How did freedom change in the 1920s for women?” “How was gender policed in the 1920s? How was gender-expression evolving?”
    2.  HSS Standard 11.5 Students analyze the major political, social, economic, technological, and cultural developments of the 1920s
  4. WWII Movements for Equality
    1. Students can consider this question in order to identify cause-and-effect changes for ordinary people on the home front: How did World War II serve to advance movements for equality at home and abroad? Wartime factory work created new and higher-paying job opportunities for women, African Americans, and other minorities; the opening up of the wage-labor force to women and minorities helped them to raise their expectations for what they should be able to achieve.
    2. HSS Standards 11.8 Students analyze the economic boom and social transformation of post; 11.10 Students analyze the development of federal civil rights and voting rights
  5. Comfort Women
    1. This inquiry set addresses the Japanese military’s creation of a system of sexual slavery that provided comfort women for Japanese troops throughout Asia and the  Pacific.  Your attitude of respect, statements of support for the victims, and reminders of critical historical details and context will go a long way to helping students face this difficult topic.
    2. HSS Standards:
      1. 10.8 Students analyze the causes and consequences of World War II.
      2. 10.8.6 Discuss the human costs of the war, with particular attention to the civilian and military losses in Russia, Germany, Britain, the United States, China, and Japan

No-Cost Network Events 

  1. Inquiry: Why Now? March 6-7
  2. Orange County Places, Voices, and Stories: March 18
  3. Re-thinking Social Studies in the Elementary Classroom: Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening: March 7: 
  4. Sources for Climate Justice and Action: March 14
  5. Integrated Action Civics Workshop Series (2022-23): March 25,2023

Picture Books (#KatesBookClub)

This month, #KatesBookClub selected our top ten favorite books that highlight specific women who transformed their communities, the country, and the world. 

Because Claudette, words by Tracey Baptiste; art by Tonya Engel

  • When fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin boarded a segregated bus on March 2, 1955, she had no idea she was about to make history. At school she was learning about abolitionists like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, which helped inspire her decision to refuse to give up her seat to a white woman, which led to her arrest, which began a crucial chain of events: Rosa Parks’s sit-in nine months later, the organization of the Montgomery bus boycott by activists like Professor Jo Ann Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the Supreme Court decision that Alabama's bus segregation was unconstitutional—a major triumph for the civil rights movement. (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: Claudette’s story is an integral component to the Rosa Parks story. This picture book also reminds students that one person can make a difference.


Classified:  The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer, words by Traci Sorell; art by Natasha Donovan

  • Mary Golda Ross designed classified airplanes and spacecraft as Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's first female engineer. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work.  Another winner from Traci Sorell.  Indian Youth Literature Honor Award, 2022. (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This book is a treasure! Traci Sorell also includes a detailed bibliography for further study, source notes, a section on Four Cherokee Values with pronunciation guidance and more! Be sure to also check out Mary Golda Ross’s NASA profileSmithsonian blog piece, and her story on the one-dollar coin

Emmy Noether:  The Most Important Mathematician You've Never Heard Of, words by Helaine Becker; art by Kari Rust

  • Emmy Noether is not quiet, good at housework or eager to marry—all the things a German girl is expected to be in her time. What she is, though, is a genius at math. When she grows up, she finds a way to first study math at a university (by sitting in, not actually enrolling) and then to teach it (by doing so for free). She also manages to do her own research into some of the most pressing math and physics problems of the day. And though she doesn't get much credit during her lifetime, her discoveries continue to influence how we understand the world today. (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This is such a great title to share with young readers during discussions about perseverance (she faced both sexism and antisemitism) and the importance of challenging expectations. Noether one of the most important people in mathematics and we should know her!

Equality's Call:  The Story of Voting Rights in America, words by Deborah Diesen; art by Magdalena Mora

  • The founders of the United States declared that consent of the governed was a key part of their plan for the new nation. But for many years, only white men of means were allowed to vote. This unflinching and inspiring history of voting rights looks back at the activists who answered equality’s call, working tirelessly to secure the right for all to vote, and it also looks forward to the future and the work that still needs to be done. (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This book offers so many opportunities to use primary sources.  The chant that runs throughout the book could be especially powerful with younger students: “But nothing could muffle Equality's Call: A right isn't a right till it's granted to all!”.

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight:  Patsy Takemoto Mink and the Fight for Title IX, words by Jen Bryant; art by Toshiki Nakamura

  • The only picture book biography about unsung hero Patsy Takemoto Mink, the first Asian American woman elected to Congress.  From a young age, Patsy Takemoto Mink learned that striving for goals came with challenges. But she also learned to never give up. As the Japanese proverb says: fall down seven times, stand up eight.  That spirit helped Patsy through school. She wanted to become a doctor, but at the time, medical schools didn’t admit women. So Patsy carved her own path. She went to law school, ran for a seat in the United States Congress, and helped create Title IX, the law that requires federally funded schools to treat boys and girls equally. Many people tried to knock her down, Patsy always got up again! (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: Another winner from Jen Bryant! This book about Title IX, courage, and perseverance would also be a great way to introduce proverbs to students: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” 

Basketball Belles:  How Two Teams and One Scrappy Player Put Women's Hoops on the Map, words by Sue Macy.  

  • Raised on a cattle ranch, Agnes Morley was sent to Stanford University to learn to be a lady. But in April 1896 she made history by leading her team to victory in the first-ever women's intercollegiate basketball game against the University of California at Berkeley. (Annotation adapted from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This California story describes the very first women's basketball game at the collegiate level. Go Bears! Be sure to peek at the recap of the history of the game can be found here along with primary source images.

The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Lee by Julie Leung.  

  • Hazel Ying Lee was born fearless—she was not afraid of anything, and the moment she took her first airplane ride, she knew where she belonged. When people scoffed at her dreams of becoming a pilot, Hazel wouldn't take no for an answer. She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. It was a dangerous job, but Hazel flew with joy and boldness. (Annotation from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This moving, true story about a groundbreaking figure will inspire young readers to challenge barriers and reach for the sky. Take a look at these biographies of Hazel from the Federal Aviation Association and from the Museum of Women Pilots.

Sharice's Big Voice:  A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids and Nancy K. Mays; art by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley .  

  • When Sharice Davids was young, she never thought she’d be in Congress. And she never thought she’d be one of the first Native American women in Congress. During her campaign, she heard from a lot of doubters. They said she couldn’t win because of how she looked, who she loved, and where she came from. But here’s the thing: Everyone’s path looks different and everyone’s path has obstacles. And this is the remarkable story of Sharice Davids’ path to Congress. (Annotation from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This story of Sharice Davids, told in her own words, is incredibly empowering while acknowledging how it can be hard to have courage: “I think how amazing it is I even tried to win.” I love how relatable Sharice’s story is for children, especially those who love talking! It offers a moment to think about how important it is to be curious, to speak up, and also to listen.

For the Right to Learn:  Malala Yousafzai's Story, words by Rebecca Langston; art by George Janna Bock

  • She grew up in a world where women were supposed to be quiet. But Malala Yousafzai refused to be silent. She defied the Taliban's rules, spoke out for education for every girl, and was almost killed for her beliefs. This powerful true story of how one brave girl named Malala changed the world proves that one person really can make a difference. (Annotation from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This book offers age-appropriate details about the war in Afghanistan and the Taliban. Malala’s story can be used to open discussions about girls’ current situations in Afghanistan, where women are again forbidden from attending school; or to discuss instability in other places, like Ukraine or Syria.

A Girl Named Rosita: The Story of Rita Moreno: Actor, Singer, Dancer, Trailblazer! words by Anika Aldamuy Denise; art by Leo Espinosa

  • When young Rosita moved from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States, she didn’t know what to expect—but she knew she loved to sing and dance. Working to overcome the language barrier and bullying she experienced in a strange new country, Rita eventually made her way to Hollywood with a dream to be a star. There, she fought to be seen and heard and eventually reached the pinnacle of success, landing her iconic role in West Side Story and, finally, winning her groundbreaking Oscar. (Annotation from publisher)
  • Book Club note: This beautiful and award-winning book can help students talk about immigration stories, feelings of belonging, and how to be proud of their identities when the world might make them feel ashamed.

Troublemakers in Trousers:  Women and What They Wore to Get Things Done by Sarah Albee, illustrated by Kaja Kajfez.  

  • The book highlights twenty-one women in history who wore men's clothing, disguised themselves as men, or broke rules and laws in order to do something they wanted or needed to do.  Each chapter focuses on one woman and provides historical information about that period in time.  A delightful "mash-up" of fashion, history, and women in the United States and the World.  

Scholarly work

Public Faces, Secret Lives : a Queer History of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, by Wendy L. Rouse. New York: New York University Press, 2022.

Voices of the Korean Comfort Women : History Rewritten from Memories, by Chungmoo Choi and Hyŏn-a Yang. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2023.

American Women’s History on Film, by Rosanne Welch and Peg A. Lamphier. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2023.

Women in Ancient Egypt : Revisiting Power, Agency, and Autonomy, by Mariam F. Ayad. Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press, 2022.