Bay Weekly: A Case for Women’s History

Women attend a training class at Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore. Library of Congress,  LC-USW3-023532-D.

By Meg Walburn Viviano, CBM Editorial Director

This upcoming Monday, March 8, is International Women’s Day, in the midst of Women’s History Month. What will you do to celebrate? Some people will read up on a pioneering woman of the past or call attention to those who are making the world better in the present. Some will do nothing, wondering, “Why do women really need a day (let alone a whole month) anyway?” 

As for me, I’ll do what I do every Monday: get my kids off to preschool and start my week running three Chesapeake Bay Media publications. I’ll check in with my all-female CBM Bay Weekly editorial team, who will assign, write, and edit the content you read in these pages.  

At some point in the day, after hours of focused work and eating lunch at my desk, I’ll take a run break. Whether it’s 21 degrees or 86 degrees, raining or windy, on Mondays I get out for a 6ish-mile loop around the neighborhood, running a pace around 7:30 per mile. Then it’s a quick shower, back to the computer, and then off to preschool to pick up the kids. 

My Monday routine isn’t remarkable, but here’s what is: for every step of that typical Monday I describe, a woman had to come before me and pave the way. Shuffling little kids out of the house in order to work a full-time job? As recently as the 1980s, that wasn’t the norm for women. At the time, less than half of mothers with kids age six and under worked full-time. Today, it’s 78.5 percent. 

Even in the ‘80s, my mother, senior vice president at a national consulting firm, showed me it was possible for a regular suburban mom to not only work, but also excel in leadership roles. Not easy, but possible. 

Now back to that all-female editorial team. As the group that determines what this newspaper covers, and how, we gain confidence from the tough female journalists before us. Longtime Chesapeake Bay editor/publisher Janie Meneely got the job done by bringing her infant to work, then later did it while moonlighting as a maritime folk singer—leather corset and all. And managing editor Kathy Knotts remembers a breed of female newsroom reporters from the start of her career who were “dogged, persistent and intensely curious,” but took no bull from anybody. These women set the standard for journalists just starting out. 

I even owe my running hobby to pioneering women. In 1967, race directors at the Boston Marathon tried to forcibly remove runner Kathrine Switzer from the course—no women allowed. It wasn’t until 1972 that women were finally allowed to sign up for marathons. I’ve competed in 12 of them between 2009 and 2019 (including Boston), thanks to the efforts of Switzer and others. 

In this week’s issue of Bay Weekly, you’ll find opportunities to not only learn about influential Chesapeake women, but actually get out there and emulate them ( ). And that’s why we celebrate International Women’s Day: Because every time a woman does something extraordinary, she paves the way for another woman’s ordinary down the road.