U.S.

March 22, 2013

Reflecting on the past, present, future of women’s history

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Maranda Flynn

Judith Gignac, independent consultant, spoke as the guest of honor at the Women’s History Month Observance, held at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre on Wednesday. Following the event’s theme of “Women inspiring Innovation through Imagination,” she focused her speech on the celebration of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

In honor of Women’s History Month, the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre hosted an observance on Wednesday, to give credit to the women who have played an important role in U.S. history.

Following the invocation delivered by Sgt. 1st Class Beverlee Burton, chief assistant, Network Enterprise Technology Command, and the national anthem sung by the Buena High Chorus, Lt. Col. Yvette Gallew, strength accounting officer, NETCOM, expressed gratitude to the men and women who attended.

“It means a lot to me, and I would imagine every female here, that you’ve stopped what you were doing, walked away from your desk, walked away from your work [and] walked away from your responsibilities, to come and celebrate us, women in general,” she said.

“We’re here today to educate, inspire, empower and shake the future by sharing distinctive women’s history and keeping it a part of the culture and history of the United States.”

According to the Law Library of Congress, Women’s History Month dates back to 1981, when Congress requested that the week of March 7, 1982 be proclaimed as “Women’s History Week.” For the next five years, Congress continued to pass resolutions for continuance. After a petition by the National Women’s History Project in 1987, Congress designated the month of March, every year, as Women’s History Month.

This year’s national theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination,” celebrating generations of women who have made astonishing contributions to the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM.

A brief description was given about four memorable women who assisted in these contributions: Gertrude Elion, an American biochemist and pharmacologist, who was the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame; Ada King, an English mathematician and writer, who is often considered the world’s first computer programmer; Maria Mitchell, the first female astronomer, who was also the first female member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, whose birthday is designated as International Nurses Day.

The guest speaker, Judith Gignac, an independent consultant, has served in multiple congressional roles, received numerous lifetime achievements and political awards, and has dedicated much of her life to the STEM fields.

Focusing her speech on the theme of this year’s Women’s History Month, Gignac encouraged women who are interested in the STEM fields to seek the programs offered, and pursue their dreams. After giving statistical data representing the imbalance of genders within the fields of STEM, she offered suggestions for resolving this inequality.

“Imagine what our world would be like if every person, regardless of gender, was given the same opportunity to learn and succeed,” Gignac said. “Imagine the good that could come from not dismissing, through bad messaging, a majority of our population. Imagine the potential breakthroughs in medicine, technology, engineering and basic research if women were seen for what they truly are — intelligent, caring, compassionate, assertive and ambitious.”

Gignac currently serves on the Government Relations Committee for the Sierra Vista Regional Health Center, on the Cochise Community Creative Writing Celebration board, and is one of several hosts of the local radio station, KTAN’s “The Friday Report.” She is married to O.O. Leininger, has two children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Completing the observance, Gallew presented certificates of achievement and appreciation to the military participants and volunteers for their contributions to the 2013 Women’s History Month Observance.

For more information on Women’s History Month, go to www.womenshistorymonth.gov.




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