March is a time to reflect on women’s many contributions

Here’s a joke for you: What did Watson and Crick discover?
Rosalind Franklin’s notes.
While the tongue-in-cheek riddle may sound like it discredits Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA’s double helix structure, in truth, the duo couldn’t have made that finding without Franklin’s work in crystallography, which captured the first legible photograph of a DNA strand.
But Rosalind Franklin never received notable credit for her work, nor is she featured in our science textbooks along with Watson and Crick.
This is just one example of why Women’s History Month, which runs March 1-31, is so important.
Women’s contributions have been largely erased or minimized.
Did you know that the oldest university in the world was founded by a Muslim woman?
The University of al-Qarawiyyin in Morocco was created by Fatima al-Fihri in 859 CE.
How many of us can honestly say we heard of Katherine Johnson before the movie “Hidden Figures”?
Without her and her fellow female NASA mathematicians, we never would have safely made it to the moon and back.
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to bring to light many of the lost contributions women have made. Of course, we should celebrate the masters of their craft: The artists, musicians and athletes. And the glass-ceiling breakers: The CEOs and politicians.
We should remember the suffragettes and Rosie the Riveters, otherwise ordinary women who made their mark on history. One gave us the right to vote. The other paved the way for women in the workforce.
Women’s History Month is also a time to acknowledge the work of regular women. Doctors and nurses. Educators. Active military and veterans. Small business owners. Construction workers and mechanics. Homemakers. And all the women in between.
Their work is important, too, though it may not make headlines. Like the suffragists and the Rosies, as individuals, their affect is small, but their combined efforts impact the world. Every barrier a woman breaks, no matter how small, makes it a little easier for the next woman who comes along.
Many organizations and schools across the country will hold activities throughout March. The Capitol kicked off the month with a celebration of Katherine Johnson’s legacy. Here in Morgantown, we’re celebrating women business owners and artists. During this Friday’s Art’s Walk downtown, local businesses will showcase women artisans.
Take time this month to participate in any one of a number of events happening in your community. Listen to women’s stories, particularly women from older generations whose tales may soon be lost.
Then thank the women around you — family, friends and colleagues — for the contributions they make, both acknowledged and unacknowledged.