Debra Michals, assistant professor and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Merrimack College, is a 20th century U.S. women’s historian who has contributed countless biographies, chapters, research pieces and books to inform people on U.S. women’s history.
Most recently, Michals spoke with WBUR about new research concerning the remains of famous female aviator Amelia Earhart.
“Women’s history month is a reminder that we were there, too, at every moment great or small, and that there is no true history of the US without considering all of its people – women, people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, and those of all socio-economic classes,” said Michals.
Michals currently teaches U.S. Women’s History; Gender and Social Movements; Women and Business; Writing the Gendered Life; Global Women’s Issues; Gender, Activism and Social Justice; and Gender and Society at Merrimack College. She also spearheaded a new course – Gender, Race and War and is currently developing a gender/women in leadership course.
“When I teach my women’s history class, I always start the semester asking my students what they learned about women in any of their previous history classes, and the answers are always the same: Rosa Parks, maybe Harriet Tubman and Gloria Steinem…and then the list just stops,” said Michals. “Even today, after decades of women’s history’s existence as a discipline, students still learn very little (unless they take a women’s history course) about the ways in which women helped to build and shape this country, and the ways in which this country shaped the destinies of its female citizens.”
Michals holds a Ph.D. and an M.A. in U.S. history from New York University, and a B.S. in journalism from Boston University. She is also a consultant/biographer for the online National Women’s History Museum and co-authored an exhibit on the history of women’s entrepreneurship, and was a consultant/adviser to the Congressional Commission for the proposed American Museum of Women’s History in Washington, D.C.