Less than a century ago women in the United States were deprived of equal opportunities and freedoms compared to men. In recognition of the pivotal strides women have made over these past few decades, we now celebrate and honor phenomenal women of all types, and define what it means to be a woman within society. Despite the progress that has been made, it is also important to acknowledge that women are still facing systemic discriminations and injustices within our social and professional environments. In acknowledgement of Women’s History Month, we must make it a habit to highlight influential women in the movement towards ultimate equity between genders. 


2024’s Women’s History Month Theme

Every Women’s History Month has a theme. This year’s theme is Women Who Advocate for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. DEI has been a major topic of advocacy in the United States. It consists of organizational frameworks seeking to promote fair treatment and full participation of all people. This is particularly for groups “who have been historically underrepresented or subject to discrimination”. It reveals itself in our workforces, education systems, and social settings. An article  by Erika Operiano points out that “there’s a great disparity between managerial positions given to men vs. women and so women remain underrepresented.” With this there’s also the underlying issue of gender stereotyping where women are believed to be more fragile than men physically and emotionally. Therefore, you most commonly see women in more domestic roles while men are trusted to handle the decision-making and labor work. 

It is imperative that we recognize the work that has been done by our country to move DEI expectations in a progressive direction. There have been laws and programs set into place to avoid gender discrimination. Title IX, for example, was passed to promote DEI that tackles sex-discrimination in educational environments. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act was established in 1964 to protect workplace diversity. It declares that it is unlawful to discriminate against any person due to their race, religion, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation. However, there is still more work to be done. 

The National Women’s History Alliance aims to “recognize women throughout the country who understand that, for a positive future, we need to eliminate bias and discrimination entirely from our lives and institutions.” They also show great admiration for women who are “committed to embracing everyone and excluding no one in our common quest for freedom and opportunity.” In dealing with issues as significant as DEI, it takes the help of a village. It becomes crucial for young people, our future leaders and advocates, to see the importance of learning the value of educating themselves and being teachable by different voices or points of view. That is when true change begins.


Women Who Advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Women are at the forefront of reevaluating the status quo. In honor of  The National Women’s History Alliance’s 2024 Women’s History theme, here are a few women who make it their mission to advocate for DEI:


Paula Anderson-Worts – Paula Anderson-Worts currently serves as the Assistant Dean of Faculty and Alumni Affairs of all programs at the Davie and Tampa Bay Regional campuses of Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Osteopathic Medicine. Since childhood, she has always had a passion for serving others and knew that entering the medical field would fulfill her devotion to health and education. Although she dreamt high, she acknowledges feeling as if she had to work harder than her counterparts to prove her worth and become a phenomenal doctor. She states, “As a black female whose family migrated from the Caribbean, becoming a doctor was not easy. In fact, during undergrad as a pre-med student, an advisor tried to dissuade me from pursuing a career in medicine.” Her will and desire, however, assisted her in fighting to achieve her goals. Aside from her medical career, she also considers herself a proud advocate. She essentially believes that the goal is to “work collaboratively to create more educational programs that promote DEI and help to address health disparities in the US.”

Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale – Having decades of experience in the DEI space, Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale managed to become a well-respected speaker, author, and consultant. She utilizes her understanding of the complexities of DEI to assist organizations in achieving their diversity and inclusion goals. To do so, she’s developed and delivered diversity and inclusion training, engaging audiences with a combination of entertainment and education. O’Neale notes that she grew up in the 1950s when racial segregation was at a high. Through those experiences, in her words, “I learned a valuable skill; to recognize, plan for, and navigate the choppy waters of them and us.” Despite the current state of DEI she remains hopeful. Instead of aiming for success, however, “she prioritizes progress and the creation of a workplace that is truly diverse, inclusive, and equitable.” 

Chanda Smith Baker – Chanda Smith Baker is an executive leader and philanthropist who has dedicated herself to underestimated communities for more than 20 years. She says herself, “I am inspired by seeing companies, communities, and people succeed.” She has served on several nonprofit and philanthropic boards, having received recognition through awards and commendations. As to be expected, her journey has not been a straightforward one. She describes that her greatest challenges arose when she had been conflicted with navigating her personal circumstances while being an instrumental figure in her work. Yet, it is these experiences that shaped her into the accomplished leader she is today. Smith Baker is frequently meeting with others committed to making a difference in their community. These range from donors, corporate, social sector, or public sector leaders because she fully understands the influence these connections and conversations have on her work. 

Call to Action


Without the alleviation of issues concerning DEI, the livelihood of our societies will continue to be corrupt. It’s important that we understand the value of the women within our country and see to it that they are properly represented. Change can start by offering training programs about gender and sexual orientation awareness in our institutions, promoting women empowerment initiatives, and demanding that laws and policies continue to be put into place to protect our women against gender discrimination. If you are looking to delve deeper into the work of Paula Anderson-Worts, Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale, or Chanda Smith Baker, be sure to click their link for more information. Join them in the fight for DEI to make the United States a true united country. 

About the Author: Shazaiyah Webster is currently a PR and Social Media intern at the Lesniak Institute. She is a student at Kean University, expecting a Bachelor’s degree in English and a minor in Social Media Communications.