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We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby: Celebrating Women with PBS Passport

Welcome to today’s edition of Handpicked by Heather, where we’re celebrating Women’s History Month! As I think about what it means to be a woman today, I am awed by the accomplishments I see women making every day, especially those of young women who have never known a world without Title IX or the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

While they still often must struggle against a patriarchal society to pursue their dreams, they stand on the shoulders of our foremothers whose sacrifices have paved the way for a better future. To paraphrase the Virginia Slims ad campaign of the late 1960s, we’ve come a long way, baby!

Read on to explore just how far women have come—and how much work is yet to be done—when you explore these eight programs available with the WTIU PBS Passport member benefit.


Not for Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

I have wonderful memories of my great-grandmother, who for me was a living history book filled with stories of the monumental moments of the 20th century that she experienced firsthand. She was 22 years old in 1920 when, for the first time in history, she and more than 8 million American women exercised their newly won right to vote. My grandma was a young mother married to a domineering man, who had little autonomy over her own life, but on that day, her voice counted. Thanks to the contributions of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, who dedicated their lives to birthing the women’s movement, my grandma—and all American women—have had a voice in determining the leadership of our nation ever since that auspicious election day over 100 years ago. Learn more about these two very different women, unified by one allegiance, when you watch this two-part film by Ken Burns and Paul Barnes with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit.



 Nolly and Funny Woman

The past year has been dominated by amazingly accomplished women in popular culture. Taylor Swift was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year; Greta Gerwig wrote and directed the largest box office draw of the year; and Simone Biles won her 8th US gymnastics title—breaking a record that had stood for 90 years. All of these women have had to fight to write their own narratives, not unlike Nolly Gordon, who was unceremoniously fired as the star of Britain’s most popular soap opera at the height of her career, or the fictional beauty queen Barbara Parker, who takes London’s male-dominated world of comedy by storm. Meet Nolly starting on March 17 following the broadcast premiere, and tune in now (or any time) to watch Funny Woman with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!



 WWII Nurse

Her War, Her Story: World War II

When I think of women's roles during WWII, my mind goes to images of women primarily doing their part on the American Home Front: taking over men's roles in factories, growing Victory Gardens, and sacrificing their sons in the fight against hatred and oppression. But in truth, women did all this and much, much more. They served in the thick of action as military police officers, mechanics and drivers, mail carriers, entertainers, interpreters, communication specialists, and of course in more traditional roles as nurses, teachers, and secretaries. Watch Her War, Her Story: World War II to explore the personal stories of the incredible women who served in a war that proved women were equal to men when it came to patriotism, service, or in some cases, self-preservation, during watershed moments which called for steadfastness.




I was no athlete in high school (nor am I much of one now), but, thanks to the passage of Title IX in 1972, my more athletically inclined girlfriends always had the same opportunities to play sports as our male classmates had. But just because schools that received federal funding were required to provide equal opportunities for girls, it didn’t mean that the girls were given equal resources and support. Thanks to pioneers like Billie Jean King and Jackie Joyner-Kersee—women who fought literally and figuratively to level the playing field—female athletes are finally starting to be supported and recognized more equitably in athletics, from high school to the pros. There are still hurdles to cross, but young women athletes are continuing the fight. Meet eight of these women—the pioneers and the current stars—who have changed the system, when you tune in to Groundbreakers with your WTIU PBS Passport benefit. Hosted by sports icon and champion of equality Billie Jean King, this fascinating film weaves together the women’s discussions of how their own struggles and achievements have shaped women’s sports.


Image of Mabel Dodge Luhan

Awakening In Taos: The Mabel Dodge Luhan Story 

Back in November, WTIU member Bernard of Indianapolis emailed a warm response to my Native American Heritage blog, suggesting I check out the PBS program on the life of Mabel Dodge Luhan. I did just that and was astonished to find that I knew nothing about Luhan, despite her significant, If complicated, influence on American society. Mabel was a trailblazing feminist 100 years ahead of her time, touching everything from the modern art movement to birth control to women's and Indigenous people's rights. Surrounded by the company of other avant-garde trailblazers including Gertrude Stein, Margaret Sanger, and Georgia O'Keefe, Mabel was a free-spirited modern American thinker and activist. In 1917 she moved from Greenwich Village to Taos, New Mexico, where she met and married Tony Lujan, a Tiwa Indian from Taos Pueblo. There, she began an arts colony and took up the cause of Native American land rights. Discover the remarkable life of this American iconoclast with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit.


Madame Walker book cover

Antiques Roadshow: Women’s Work

Celebrate trailblazing women with the Antiques Roadshow specials RECUT: Women’s Work, Part 1 and Part 2, spotlighting outstanding contributions from female athletes, artists, activists, and more who left an indelible mark on the world through their thought-provoking objects and accomplishments. Treasures include a Ruth Muskrat Bronson archive, a 1933 Margaret Bourke-White photograph, and a Maria Koogle needlework. Of special interest to Hoosiers are segments featuring Lois Youngen, who played for the Fort Wayne Daisies as part of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, and an early textbook from the Madame Walker Schools of Beauty Culture, which were headquartered in Indianapolis. Learn about these standout finds and others with your WTIU PBS Passport!




American Experience: Fly with Me

The hubs and I watched the Fly With Me episode of American Experience last evening, and I am still reeling from the descriptions of the restrictions, double standards, and sexual objectification that Pan Am, TWA, and other major airlines imposed on women who served as flight attendants since the dawn of commercial flight travel. Fly With Me tells the story of the pioneering women who became flight attendants at a time when single women were unable to order a drink, eat alone in a restaurant, own a credit card, or get a prescription for birth control. The job offered unheard-of opportunities for travel and independence, but those opportunities came with an array of unwanted and unfair policies and expectations. In response, these remarkable women put themselves on the frontlines, asserting gender equality in a battle that helped transform conditions for women in all American workplaces. Find out more when you tune in with your WTI PBS Passport benefit!