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 September 10, 2010


Women’s Equality Day marks 90 years since passage of 19th Amendment

Women have made many gains in the military and civilian life in the 90 years since the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was approved in 1920, said Brig. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson.
PHOTO: Brig. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson (left) speaks at the Women’s Equality Day observance at Fort McCoy. Photo by Val Hyde
Brig. Gen. Marcia M. Anderson (left) speaks at the Women’s Equality Day observance at Fort McCoy. (Photo by Val Hyde)

Anderson, who spoke at Fort McCoy’s Women’s Equality Day event Aug. 26, said the women who came before them probably couldn’t even have imagined the current progress of women in the workplace. But the journey continues, said the deputy commanding general of the 1st Army Division-West and the commanding general, 85th Support Command.

“Women had dreams and laid the foundation for future generations,” Anderson said. “My grandmother learned to read so she could read the Bible. My mother taught me I could be anything I wanted to be and helped me get there.”

The military often leads the way in providing opportunities for women, Anderson said. A bill signed in 1967 allowed women to be promoted to general officers, and the first female general officer (brigadier general) was promoted in 1970. The first four-star female general now is on duty. Many women serve in the military and in government service, including at Fort McCoy, she said.

“The attitudes began to change,” she said. “Now, the federal work force accepts diversity and capitalizes on those differences to best accomplish its mission.”

“The military ensures everyone who does the same work is paid under the same pay structure,” Anderson added. “This encourages flexibility and rewards diversity.”

Anderson, who is employed in the U.S. Court system in the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison, shared a bit of history about famous Wisconsin women from the book, “They Wore Petticoats.”

Included was Cordelia A.P. Harvey, the wife of Wisconsin Gov. Louis Harvey. She used the experience of her husband visiting Wisconsin troops convalescing from the Civil War in the south to help convince President Lincoln to set up three hospitals in Wisconsin to take care of Wisconsin military personnel and veterans.

Belle Case La Follette helped her husband, Gov. Bob La Follette, achieve his political goals and also wrote about women in political roles for the weekly magazine he founded, showing women successfully could mix political and Family life.

In 1885, she was the first woman to ever graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School.

Mabel Watson Raimey was the first African-American woman to receive a law degree in Wisconsin when she graduated from Marquette University Law School in 1927.

“The important thing is all these women had dreams,” Anderson said. “And they were determined to see them come true.”
Anderson noted the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote, had a long journey to approval as it actually first was introduced in 1878. It was introduced in each new session of Congress for the next 42 years before enough states had voted in favor of it for ratification.

Sue Bickford, the Army Reserve Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) director, noted that although there has been much progress in diversity there is room for more. For example, she just returned from the Army War College. Among the 340 attendees in her class, only 23 were women, about 7 percent.

“The military has had a number of firsts with women, including the first general officers and four-star general,” Bickford said. “This year marked the first time women have been allowed to serve on submarines. Women have made a lot of progress with the help of a lot of men.”

Garrison Commander Col. David E. Chesser thanked Anderson for speaking at Fort McCoy, serving as a role model and helping to recognize the importance of diversity in the work force to help accomplish the mission.

The Excellence In Diversity Award, which recognizes a member of the Fort McCoy work force who contributes to diversity through their career field, personal life, and/or community activities, will be presented at the next observance — Hispanic-American Heritage Month — Tuesday, Oct. 5.

The Army Reserve EEO sponsored the event. For more information about EEO programs/events, call 608-388-3106.

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