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
March 3, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
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
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 2151 GMT (0551 HKT)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1925 GMT (0325 HKT)
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 1244 GMT (2044 HKT)
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2329 GMT (0729 HKT)
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0134 GMT (0934 HKT)
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0313 GMT (1113 HKT)
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 0121 GMT (0921 HKT)
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2256 GMT (0656 HKT)
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 2011 GMT (0411 HKT)
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1519 GMT (2319 HKT)
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 0258 GMT (1058 HKT)
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 2141 GMT (0541 HKT)
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT