First Presidio chairwoman opened doors for other female language instructors
In 1947, Ann Arpajolu became the first woman instructor at the Army Language School. In the 1970s, Ann Arpajolu made history as the first department chairwoman. In 2010, there were about 550 women instructors and 600 servicewomen attending DLIFLC.

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. -- March is recognized as a time to reflect on the roles women have played in history and the contributions they have made to societies in the United States and the world.

Among notable women who are remembered at the Presidio is the late Ann Arpajolu, who in September 1947 was the first woman to be hired as an instructor at the Army Language School, forerunner of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center.

When Arpajolu was selected chairwoman of the Greek Department in the early 1970s, she made history at the institute as the first woman to attain the position of department chairperson. The author of influential textbooks on the teaching of Greek language, Arpajolu retired in 1973.

In contrast to 1947, at the end of the first decade in the 21st century, DLIFLC employed about 550 women instructors. About 600 servicewomen were assigned to DLIFLC as students.

According to the National Women's History Project Web site, such an extraordinary number attests to the tireless work of thousands of women and men, organizations and institutions in establishing Women's History Month as an annual celebration.

When Women's History Month was first celebrated in the early 1980s, the topic of women's history was mostly limited to college curricula, the site says. Juxtapose that to 2010 with a Google search using the words "women's + history + month," which results in more than 40 million citations. As the saying goes: You've come a long way, baby.

It has been estimated that less than 3 percent of the content of teacher-training textbooks available at that time mentioned the contributions of women, according to the site, which also says that when they were mentioned, women's contributions were often relegated to mere footnotes. And, the contributions of women of color and women in fields such as mathematics, science and art were seldom discussed.

Celebrating Women's History Month is a step toward correcting the historical record and drawing attention to viable female role models.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16