Nine Statues of women in National Statuary Hall is not enough

This week Jennifer Lee focuses on how there are few women featured in the National Statuary Hall. “Nine statues of women in National Statuary Hall is not enough” published in the San Fransisco Gate. It talks about how there are women in the supreme court but not in our National Statuary Hall. While there is two notable citizens from each of the 50 states only nine of those being women when in reality there should be more. Read the full article here:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said last month that there will be enough women on the Supreme Court when there are nine.
While that may be “enough” women for the Supreme Court, it is not enough for our National Statuary Hall, where we have statues of two notable citizens from each of the 50 states and, regrettably, only nine are of women. We now have the opportunity to put a 10th woman in our statuary hall.
California’s two statues are both of men; Father Junipero Serra and President Ronald Reagan. Recently, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County), introduced legislation to bring Serra home to California and send a statue of astronaut Sally Ride in his place.
Lara’s choice of Sally Ride is wonderful, but there are many California women who could join her on the list of historical figures to consider. For instance, San Franciscan Dian Fossey for her work with endangered gorillas, Julia Child for teaching everyday Americans how to cook sophisticated French fare, and Biddy Mason, an enslaved woman who was forced to walk from Mississippi to the free state of California, where she legally freed herself and became one of the early creators of the city of Los Angeles. These women embody the American spirit and their accomplishments inspire leadership.
The National Statuary Hall is in the U.S. Capitol. It was created in 1864, during the Civil War, well before women had won the right to vote. Since 1931, when the statue of Serra was placed in the statuary, much has changed in our country, including the idea of equality between women and men. The statuary, however, still reflects an image of America where women’s accomplishments were not considered as important as those of men.
Why is it important to have more women represented in the National Statuary Hall? Girls need historical role models to learn of the various paths taken by women to achieve positions of leadership. This was brought home in a 2013 report by American University Professor Jennifer L. Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute. Lawless’ research showed that young women are less likely to consider politics as a career and more likely than men to consider themselves unqualified to run for office.
Monuments are a part of our cultural memory. It is the process by which we say to citizens, “This is who we are, and these are our values.” Thousands of schoolchildren pass through this hall and learn about the history of our country. Women must be equally included in the hall so that girls and boys can see women in leadership roles.
As of late, several states have replaced existing statues with new ones. In fact, Kansas is planning on sending a statue of aviator Amelia Earhart. However, there is no groundswell that helps propel the statuary toward a future where the words “American hero” are as likely to conjure up a female image as a male image in our minds.
The recent unveiling of a statue of politician Barry Goldwater, who replaced copper mining executive and war hero John Campbell Greenway, keeps Arizona’s choices completely male. (Greenway’s wife, Isabella, who campaigned to have her husband’s statue in the collection, has overshadowed his contributions. She was the first woman to represent Arizona in the U.S. House of Representatives.) The decision made by theOhio Legislature to replace its statue of Gov. William Allen with inventor Thomas Edison also maintains the status quo of male-dominated statuary.
There are numerous likenesses of Serra in California, as well as schools, streets and even trails named for him. Pope Francis has a plan to canonize him in September on his visit to the United States. Let’s bring the statue of Serra home to California where he belongs and send a likeness of a woman to Washington, D.C.
We pride ourselves on being inventors and trendsetters. Who knows? If California becomes the 10th state to add a woman to the mix of historical figures, the idea of gender equality in the National Statuary Hall just might go national.


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