Editors Note: The following series “Women Making History” is a week-long series curated by Marisa Long as part of the Digital Research Internship Program in partnership with ViaNolaVie. The DRI Program is a Newcomb Institute technology initiative for undergraduate students combining technology skillsets, feminist leadership, and the digital humanities.
For the last week of March, aka, Women’s History Month, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on articles written about and written by women from New Orleans. From the time New Orleans was first established, women played a significant role in the success of the young city as medical caretakers and orphanage and school founders. These women were the Ursuline Nuns, and they set the high standard for women to both educate themselves and then use that education in their community.
Looking back even further, prior to the founding of New Orleans, Native American women contributed to this land being a local and international trade center with their valuable woven basket. In part, women’s influential roles in the origin of New Orleans have led to the city being less patriarchal than many. However, even here, women’s accomplishments are too often overshadowed. Although they don’t receive the same recognition as their male counterparts, women have shaped and continue to shape the city of New Orleans as innovators, artists, activists, and passionate citizens of this beautiful city.
In my curation, I chose to include articles that span a variety of topics to demonstrate women’s integral role in the progression and culture of the city. As someone who is not a native New Orleanian, I am constantly amazed by this city’s love for art in all its forms. Particularly enthralling to natives and tourists alike is the jazz scene in New Orleans; yet, nearly all clips and images I had seen of New Orleans jazz prior to living here depicted it as an entirely masculine art. Thus, my first goal in this curation is to feature women who have been breaking down traditional gender barriers when entering an industry.
As a woman in technology, I understand what it’s like to be the only woman in a room and to have your contributions go unnoticed in comparison to those of more vocal and proud participants. Far too many times, we see women play down their successes and fail to take full credit for their accomplishments. Through this curation, I hope to remind women to take pride in what they do and to help others celebrate their successes. Empowering and recognizing other women’s efforts is the only way in which the gender gap will diminish over time. I also aimed to feature interviews with some of these inspiring women where they share what experiences drive their passion for what they do. I hope that by recalling and sharing stories of female success we can continue to inspire girls growing up in New Orleans they are the Women Making History.