From Women’s Suffrage to the ERA, a Century-Long Push for Equality

The Equal Rights Amendment, proposed nearly 100 years ago, sparked debate from its very beginning, even among many of the women who had worked together for suffrage.

The Equal Rights Amendment was finally passed by Congress in 1972, and within a year 30 of the 38 states needed had ratified it. In January, Virginia became the latest state to ratify. Immediately, there were challenges. Released in collaboration with PBS, American Experience, we tell the story of the long – and continuing – path to passage.

For teachers
  • Producer: Sarah Weiser
  • Editor: Heru Muharrar

For Educators


This seven-minute video and accompanying lesson plan looks at how throughout the 1960’s and 70’s the second wave feminism movement worked to address gender inequality across the United States. While the movement had several important victories, the Equal Rights Amendment was not passed. Was the second wave feminist movement a success nonetheless?

Lesson Plan 1: From Women's Suffrage to the ERA

Students will examine the history of the Equal Rights Amendment, develop a claim, and use evidence gathered from a variety of sources to support their answer.


Students will:

  • Assess various views on advancing gender equality during the second wave feminist movement by examining primary sources from the 1960s and ’70s
  • Assess the pros and cons of passing a constitutional amendment to create social change
Essential questions
  • Why is it important to analyze diverse perspectives when assessing historical events?
  • Is a constitutional amendment the most effective method of ensuring gender equality?
  • What can the successes and failures of past social movements teach us about social change today?
  • Common Core State Standards
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.9-10.1:Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.6:Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
    • CCSS.ELA.LITERACY.RH.11-12.7:Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
    • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.9:Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
  • National Council for the Social Studies C3 Framework
    • D2.His.1.9-12.Evaluate how historical events and developments were shaped by unique circumstances of time and place as well as broader historical contexts.
    • D2.His.4.9-12.Analyze complex and interacting factors that influenced the perspectives of people during different historical eras.
    • D2.His.5.9-12.Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.
    • D2.His.8.9-12.Analyze how current interpretations of the past are limited by the extent to which available historical sources represent perspec-tives of people at the time.
    • D2.His.16.9-12.Integrate evidence from multiple relevant historical sources and interpretations into a reasoned argument about the past.
  • AP U.S. History
    • Period 8: 1945-1980
  • AP Government and Politics
    • Unit 5: Political ParticipationTopic 5.3: Political Parties
      Topic 5.8: Electing a President
      Topic 5.9: Congressional Elections
      Topic 5.10: Modern Campaigns