In 1969, Shirley Hartley was horrified to learn that less than 10% of the honorees in the Hall of Great Americans were women. This revelation ignited a movement to create a National Women’s Hall of Fame that honors women whose contributions span the arts, athletics, business, education, humanities, the sciences, and so much more.
I’m often asked the question, “But why do we need a National Women’s Hall of Fame? Aren’t there enough specific halls of fame that can carry on this work?”
This weekend, Jann Wenner, co-founder of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, was removed from its Board of Directors. His departure came less than a week after he was quoted in The New York Times making sexist and racist remarks about women and Black musicians.
I’m not posting this to debate the Board’s decision or their future approach to celebrating musicians whose voices continue to be silenced or disparaged. This is a moment to underscore WHY organizations like the National Women’s Hall of Fame must exist (along with the National Native American Hall of Fame, the Asian Hall of Fame, the Black Inventors Hall of Fame, and hundreds of other local, state, and national halls of fame). Our work shines a spotlight on people and contributions to society that would otherwise be overlooked, forgotten, or misrepresented; together, we promote a more equitable and inclusive world.
Representation matters and we have a lot of work to do to show future generations that greatness has no gender, color, age, or income level.