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October 27, 2011

This morning I read a very intriguing article about Julia Chase-Brand, which was linked by Tina at Carrots’n’Cake. The article is the story of Julia’s life and running career as she battled sexism and inequality to become one of the first woman road racers in the early 1960’s.

Throughout her running career, she faced negativity on all sides as she was discouraged to participate in official races and encouraged by her father to pursue other interests, such as tennis. Running was considered a man’s sport, and women participating in running was not in the realm of possibility. Julia broke all of these stereotypes as she successfully competed in the 1961 Manchester Road Race, leaving some of her male competitors in the dust.

Reading this article made me feel so much gratitude for the women that pioneered equality with their participation in running and other sports. I am aware of the many hardships that women were forced to go through, throughout history, in both the home and in the public sphere, but it is easy to forget their struggle and their contribution to the reality that women enjoy today.

I have so many opportunities and such a greater sense of equality than women have had for hundreds or thousands of years. It is amazing the accomplishments that women have made just within the last 50 years! To think that Julia Chase-Brand was almost not able to do a 4.75 mile race or that the only sport my mother was able to play in high school was softball, is completely mind boggling! Although some stereotypes still pervade women’s lives, we have the opportunity to participate in any sport or career we want to. Women are now in careers where they hold positions of power and have broken out of the assistant/secretary role. Women are pursuing the highest degrees of education, becoming leaders and university professors where, 40 years ago, college was just a place a girl went to find a good husband. There are now more woman that men in college, and more women finishing marathons across the country than men. It is an amazing time in history to be a woman.

I could go on all day, but I won’t. I’d just like to say that I am so proud to be a woman and so greatful for all of the innovative, courageous, and strong women that came before me to create the world we live in today.

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