I’ve long loved quotes. Years ago, my Franklin planner (remember those?) had a daily quote on each page. A series of them struck me, and I began collecting them; my collection is now 15 chock-full pages and has followed me through a dozen job changes. I began sharing them about once a week on LinkedIn shortly after I joined the site. I’ve just finished another year of sharing, but this year’s quotes have been special in a way that I’m guessing none of their readers noticed: they were all quotes by women.
I don’t fully remember the seeds of this idea, but I do remember noticing that a list of quotes that I’d stumbled across was not just dominated by, but entirely populated by, quotes by men. I began to pay more attention to lists of quotes, and quickly realized that women are as underrepresented in the quotes which have been recorded by history as they are in our politics, our government, and on our currency. This gap shouldn’t have surprised me, but somehow it did. Though women represent half of all the people who have ever lived, it is said that history is written by the “winners”. This is just one more reminder that men have had the sole authority to pen history. Women began entering previously male-dominated fields in significant numbers only in the last century; we are just now at a point in history to have collected a critical mass of their thoughts.
With the Internet now putting the entire recorded history of our planet at my fingertips, it didn’t occur to me that I might struggle to find 52 worthy quotes by women to share from the billion websites available on Google. But if you search “Women Quotes” on Brainy Quote, fully 40% of the first page of search results are from men! I worked much harder than I ever had before to find a year’s worth of quality quotes. As you read this, many of you are thinking of women that you’d have searched; I can guarantee you that I searched most of them. Think about it: can you name more than one female astronaut or scientist or CEO or more than a couple of female politicians? Then there are still entire fields with no tokens as yet (i.e. how many female U.S. Presidents or Vice Presidents can you name?). It’s just a simple reality that until we get well beyond the era of firsts–until they can be counted on more than one hand–women will continue to be underrepresented in our collective consciousness.
I will leave you with a quote from my favorite female philosopher who, despite her very severe limitations, seemed to have experienced and understood more of life than many without her limitations.
“Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye.” –Helen Keller