Every March is Women's History Month (#WHM) in the United States, and every March similar issues are brought back into the spotlight: pay inequality, our patriarchal system, lack of maternity support, and the list goes on. As a women-owned and women-led business, it is clear why we would put quite an emphasis on highlighting these issues, but this year more than ever, our country has hit a critical point in its treatment of persons who identify as women.
In case we haven't met yet, Mattingly Solutions is a consulting firm that focuses solely on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues within organizations; this focus, in combination with our scientist-practitioner background, made us want to bring to light some of the most pivotal moments that have occurred this #WHM. I want to further dissect 3 events from this month alone and and explain why they are critical to the future treatment, rights, and reality of women in America.
I want to start with the story of Lia Thomas, a transgender woman who is a professional swimmer at the University of Pennsylvania. Lia was re-cast into the face of controversy on March 17th, after she became the first openly transgender athlete to win a NCAA Division I national championship in any sport, after winning the women's 500-yard freestyle. Since this momentous occasion, her status and ability to compete as a woman within swimming events has been called into question by the media, various state governors, and just about anyone with a twitter account. Before I go any further, I want to make my stance clear, trans women ARE women, and showing support for Lia is more than just support for trans women, it's support for women and further advocation of feminism. Unfortunately though, there is a lot of work to be done within America on this topic and Lia is just one of the many transgender individuals that are threatened by an uptick of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation.
Next, I want to discuss the recent rise in violence against women in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. This rise began in the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and in December 2021, the New York Police Department reported that in New York City alone, incidences of violence against the AAPI community had risen about 361% from the previous year. The organization Stop AAPI Hate has also estimated that 1 in 5 Americans identifying as AAPI experienced a hate incident in 2021 — which statistically equals about 4.8 million Asian Americans and 320,000 Pacific Islanders. Both in New York and nationally, a disproportionate number of these hate crimes against the AAPI community has targeted women and girls. Most recently, on March 14th in Yonkers, NY, a 67-year old woman was viciously beaten by a man in her own apartment building strictly because she was Asian. The hashtag #stopasianhate isn't just for show, it's a call to action. We need to protect the AAPI population, especially AAPI women.
Lastly, I want to bring attention to one of the most notable accomplishments by a woman this #WHM, the appointment of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court. Beginning on March 21st, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, one of the most qualified Supreme Court appointees to date, began her confirmation hearings, which concluded after a total of 4 days. Even though some of the lines of questioning were both unnecessary and inappropriate, Judge Ketanji responded with absolute poise and confidence and is one big step closer to becoming the first Black woman to sit on the nation’s top court. This appointment is so important for Black women in America, who have been largely underrepresented in both the justice system and, more generally, leadership positions, throughout our nation's history.
These stories are just some examples of the critical moments in history we are currently living in, although not all positive. A LOT has happened this Women's History Month and most importantly, more women's history was made. I encourage you to embrace this time in #herstory and be the best ally, feminist, and support to those who identify as women in your life.
Sarah Jackson, M.S. is an IO & DEI consulting assistant at Mattingly Solutions and also a PhD candidate at Florida International University. Learn more about and connect with her here.