Daily Video

February 27, 2013

Heroes in the Fight for Women’s Rights

Watch Gloria Steinem: Women Can't 'Have It All' Until Equality on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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Teachers: this video includes a 4 minute story followed by a discussion with activist Gloria Steinem.

The modern women’s movement in America has been fighting for women’s equality in society and before the law for more than forty years. Ahead of International Women’s Day, which will be celebrated on March 8, a new PBS documentary looked back on the history of the movement, and the leaders who brought women’s issues to the forefront of the national conversation.

Kathrine Switzer, a distance runner who was the first woman to participate in the Boston Marathon, never intended to become such an activist, but her run helped to create opportunities for women in sports.

In 1967, Switzer was a junior at Syracuse University and training with the manager of the men’s track team, since there was no women’s team. The manager’s endless stories about the Boston Marathon inspired her to join the race, but a major obstacle still stood in her way.

The Boston Marathon had excluded women for 70 years, so Switzer registered to run alongside the manager and her boyfriend using only her initials.

However, when people realized that a woman was running the race, the press came in their truck to take pictures.

“On this truck was the race director, feisty guy by the name of Jock Semple. He just stopped the bus, jumped off and ran after me. And he just grabbed me and screamed at me, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers,” recalled Switzer.

“All of a sudden, big Tom, my boyfriend, came with a streak and gave Jock the most incredible cross-body block and sent Jock flying right through the air and landed on the curb.”

She went on to finish the race, despite the awful weather conditions, making history again.

“There is an expression in a marathon that you do go through sort of a lifetime of experience. And I often say that I started the Boston Marathon as a girl and I finished the Boston Marathon as a grown woman,” said Switzer.


Quote

“Journalists got very energetic. What are you trying to prove? Are you a suffragette? Are you a crusader, whatever that is, you know? And I said, what? I’m just trying to run,” – Kathrine Switzer, distance runner.

Warm up questions

1. Do you think men and women are treated differently by society?

2. What is the feminist movement?

3. What are some obstacles that women still face in society today?

Discussion questions

1. What did you find most interesting about this video?

2. Why do you think it was so important for Switzer to finish the race? Do you think her story would be so impactful if she had not?

3. What role do stereotypes play in creating gender inequality?

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