A History of Women in Dallas

Author: Bansari Kavaiya, Flower Mound High School ‘21

The fight for gender equality has been an ongoing struggle for the past century. Even with the current #MeToo movement, annual Women’s March, and various protests, women are still seen struggling with being treated equally, especially with the recent abortion restrictions, discrimination in offices, and unfair luxury taxes on certain feminine products. However, women are rising up and slowly claiming our rightful places in society. Here is a brief history on feminism and women in powerful positions in the Dallas Area:

The rise of women in powerful positions was slow, yet a promising one, and it began in the 1850s, as women started to work in what were traditionally male-dominant roles, such as activists, educators, businesswomen, and ranchers.

Texas feminist groups became the first of the southern unions to take radical steps for women’s suffrage. It remained the only state in the South to support the movement up until 1893.

The Ladies Association was founded in 1861, becoming the first women’s organization in Dallas.

The first female mayor, Adlene Harrison, stepped into office in 1976. She was also on the Dallas city council, as well as a board member and chair of DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit). Although she was acting mayor, the first female elected mayor Annette Strauss was in office in the year 1987, and is widely remembered all around Texas, as Annette Strauss Square in Irving, Texas is a popular venue for outdoor performances. She also has various institutes and buildings in her name.

In 1896, S. Isadore Miner became the first female editor of the Dallas Morning News, and was widely known for her extremely successful column called “Women’s History." She wrote under her famous pen name, Pauline Periwinkle, and took on deep feminist issues and provided clever solutions, as well as introduce a new school of thought into women’s rights for her readers.

Maura McNeil is an American feminist active in the 1950s and was active in the Dallas women’s movement for forty years. She joined several women’s groups and worked towards eliminating stereotypes prevalent in Dallas. As she grew up in the 1950s/1960s, she witnessed changes like desegregation, which was a motivator for her to seek more rights and benefits to those who were disenfranchised.

While women have found a place in society and in office spaces, we still aren’t viewed as equals to men. However, in Dallas, the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement are still prevalent in our society, and women will continue to make history by changing our city for the better.

Courtesy of Bansari Kavaiya