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Women's History Month — women empowered

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erin Millbaugh
  • 90th Missile Wing Protocol specialist
How has the institution of education changed for women over time? How has education proved to empower women? These two questions kept running through my mind as I was brainstorming ideas for this article.

The other day, I was flipping through the channels on TV and came across the movie "Mona Lisa Smile." I got caught up in watching it and thought that it fit in perfectly with Women's History Month and especially the theme this year -- Women's Education-Women's Empowerment. "Mona Lisa Smile" gives a picture of how women's universities used to be. One of the main characters in the movie is an art history professor trying to motivate and inspire the young girls to think outside the box. The time frame for this movie was in the 1950s, and at the time of the story, there was a perception that girls went to school not to get their Bachelor of Arts degree or their Bachelor of Science degree, but their "Mrs." degree. Now whether this perception was true or not, I can't really answer; however, it is thought provoking. And I would be confident in saying that perception does not exist today.

To answer my first question, I would say education has dramatically changed over the years for women. In fact, education has changed dramatically over the years for everybody. For example, the range of subjects in which you can study and get a degree have widened. The diversity of colleges you can choose from has multiplied. The technology for which subjects are being taught has changed, and some would say improved. No more are the days of blackboards and chalk or even typewriters. These days, students are attending college classes with laptops and lessons are taught through PowerPoint and other electronic devices. Maybe one of the biggest changes today is the availability of online schools.

How has education proved to empower women? Well, I say how has it not? Knowledge is power, right? To give an example, look at Hilary Clinton and Sarah Palin. Whether you like them or not, these two women have been in the media quite a bit over the past couple of years and are changing the face of politics. The five main social institutions in our society are government, religion, education, economics and family. In all of these institutions you can see trends of change with women. For each of these institutions when change occurs in some way, it then affects the others. For instance, when women become more educated, you can actually see the change that occurs in government -- more women in politics and more laws and policies directed at helping women. But really it all comes down to choice. Women have the choice to pursue whatever they would like today without a stigma - or in some cases a little bit less of a stigma.

I grew up the daughter of a cop and a teacher. School and the process of learning has always been a very important part of my life. My mom always talks about how the biggest thing my grandparents wanted for her was an education, and that is what she and my father wanted for me. I am so thankful I live in a time where I have the freedom of choice. I have the freedom to decide if I want to attend school, where I want to go and what I want to study. And, most importantly, what I want to do with it. Education has personally empowered me by giving me the confidence to never be afraid to ask questions and to never be satisfied with what I already know, but to thirst for learning something new.

Come out and celebrate the women who have made a difference in Empowerment through Education. The wing's Women's History Event is being held at 3 p.m. March 20 in the Fall Hall Community Center. The event will also include the wing's Federal Women of the Year ceremony. To volunteer or help with this year's event, email Master Sgt. Danielle Hirvela, 90th Forces Support Squadron, at; Master Sgt. Juan Diazavila, 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron,; or Jim Hunt, 90th Missile Wing Equal Opportunity chief, at