The Missing Waves of Feminism

NWHM's 25th Anniversary Celebration Symposium Series

The National Women’s History Museum is celebrating 25 years of service and dedication to amplifying women’s distinct contributions to the nation’s history both past and present by hosting a four-part virtual symposium series, “The Missing Waves of Feminism.” “The Missing Waves” will examine the “lost eras” of the traditionally recognized canons of the four waves of feminism, including examples of early activism, the roles of minority women, and the impact of social movements that continued to progress for women’s rights even as the nation’s attention was turned to wars, pandemics, and internal disputes.

Highlighting barrier-breaking women, scholars, and activists whose work centers around citizenship, equity, voter suppression, equal pay, and social justice, the panelists, too, will represent a diverse array of disciplines and cultural studies. “The Missing Waves of Feminism” is produced in complement to the NWHM’s newest four-part virtual exhibit series to be published throughout the current year, titled Feminism: The Four Waves. Our first exhibit in the series, Feminism: The First Wave, is available here in English and Spanish; the second exhibit in the series, Feminism: The Second Wave, is also available in English and Spanish; and the third exhibit in the series, Feminism: The Third Wave, is available here in English and Spanish. The fourth and final installment of this virtual exhibit series will debut in early December 2021.

Using a virtual platform, this eye-opening symposium series will connect audiences with presenters whose intellect and talents demonstrate women’s backbone, ingenuity, and forward thinking from the late 18th century to the start of this new decade in the 21st century. 

Future Programs:

December 12, 2021
The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Fourth Wave

While there is no agreed-upon end to the third wave, scholars now debate whether a fourth wave of feminism began in the early 2010s. Women continued to make great strides in all areas of achievement through the 1990s and 2000s, but technological advancements enabled digital methods for organizing in recent years that some argue signify a new era of feminist activity. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook allowed online advocacy campaigns to reach mass audiences and make a significant cultural impact. Tarana Burke's #MeToo campaign went viral in 2017 as women from all backgrounds shared their experiences of sexual assault and harassment. Together with the Hollywood-based Time's Up initiative and the "Believe Women" campaign, these movements brought renewed attention to widespread examples of discrimination against women. Social media has also been used to promote more traditional forms of organizing, such as the worldwide Women's Marches that began as a reaction to the 2016 Presidential Election. Feminists today continue to work on many of the same issues as their predecessors -- equal pay, reproductive rights, sexual assault -- but with the innovative tools of the digital age at their disposal.

Join The "Missing" Waves series moderator Dr. Michele B. Goodwin in conversation with a distinguished and diverse group of thought leaders on this topic, including NWHM Chief Curator Dr. Aleia M. Brown, women's and gender studies scholar at Rutgers University and NWHM Scholars Advisory Council member Dr. Sylvia Chan-Malik, and Senior Fellow in the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations Meighan Stone, December 12th at 6:00 - 7:00p EDT. The program is free, but registration is required.   

The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The First Wave

On April 11, NWHM hosted a distinguished panel of barrier-breaking women, scholars, and activists for a discussion about early activism, the roles of minority women, and the impact of social movements in the First Wave era of feminism. The panel, moderated by Dr. Michele Bratcher Goodwin, included Michelle Duster, Dr. Martha Jones, and Dr. Lisa Tetrault.

The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Second Wave

On June 13, NWHM hosted a distinguished panel of barrier-breaking scholars to re-examine the origins, context, and chronology of the “second wave” of feminism with a robust discussion that considers why a wave theory that excludes the less examined period of 1920-1960 is problematic, and shine sunlight on the consequences of this erasure. Moderated by Dr. Michele B. Goodwin, Chancellor's Professor of Law, the University of California at Irvine, panelists included Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall; Founding Director, Women's Research and Resource Center; Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women's Studies; Spelman College; Dr. Catherine J. Lavender, Director, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program; Director, Bertha Harris Women's Center; Associate Professor of History; The College of Staten Island/CUNY; and Dr. Laura L. Lovett, Associate Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh.

The Missing Waves of Feminism Symposium Series: The Third Wave

On September 26, Dr. Leslie L. Heywood, professor of English and creative writing, Binghamton University, The State University of New York; Kate Kelly; human rights attorney and author of Ordinary Equality: Women and Queer People Who Shaped the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Rights Amendment (Gibbs Smith, February 15th 2022); Rebecca Walker, bestselling author and founder of the Third Wave Fund, a non-profit organization that funds grants for young women and transgender youth committed to social justice; and moderator Dr. Michele B. Goodwin, chancellor's professor of law, The University of California at Irvine joined NWHM to discuss “The Missing Waves of Feminism: The Third Wave.”