Today is Amelia Earhart‘s day. It would be her 115th birthday. She’s been honored with her own Google doodle. And today, we learned that the $2.2 million expedition to find the wreckage of her last ill-fated flight was unsuccessful. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery failed to get the evidence it was looking for about Earhart’s disappearance with her navigator Fred Noonan. It has been 75 years and we’re still searching for Amelia Earhart.
But there’s a lot more than historic plain wreckage in Earhart’s legacy. As plenty of wonderful people have written, Earhart was the consummate feminist. In her career, in her marriage, in the philosophy of her life, Amelia believed in empowering women. As a feminist in 2012, I look back on this woman’s rich life and history, and I wonder if she still doesn’t have a few more lessons to teach us all about working women.
Here are a few of the amazing pieces of Earhart’s legacy that I still think modern women need to work on.
- She supported other female pilots. Once Earhart had gained notoriety, she was quick to leverage her fame to help other female pilots. She never saw other women as competition. She didn’t ignore their struggles to break through as she did. Amelia Earhart believed that women should support each other in the face of gender discrimination. I feel like Amelia would have been appalled at catty corporate competitions to be the only woman in the room. She would’ve expected us to work together as a team and help one another in our industries.
- Women are just as physically capable as men. 75 years ago, Earhart was demonstrating that women were just as capable as men at handling physically challenging work. Now, we’re still fighting that battle. We’re still debating whether women are able to fight on the front lines of combat, whether they’re physically up to the task. Earhart would never have accepted the notion that women we’re able to perform at the same aptitude that men are.
- She kept pushing. Amelia Earhart was never complacent. She always wanted to do more, to do better. She once said, “Now and then women should do for themselves what men have already done — occasionally what men have not done — thereby establishing themselves as persons, and perhaps encouraging other women toward greater independence of thought and action.” She knew that we all just needed to keep moving forward. And if she could talk to us today, I would imagine that this would be her advice. Keep moving forward, ladies.