Write Women Back Into History Essay Contest

Sponsored by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, Iowa Department of Education, and the State Historical Society of Iowa, the Write Women Back Into History annual essay contest serves to celebrate Women's history month--March--and to increase awareness of the contributions made by Iowa women.

2015 Contest

The theme for 2015 was “Weaving the stories of women's lives.”

2015 Contest Winners

Best Essays, Grades 6-7

First place - General category

       Kassidi Long
       PCM Middle School, Prairie City
       Teacher: Jennifer Ropes

First place - STEM category

        Sophie Hoffmeier
        North Polk Middle School, Alleman
        Teacher: Sarah Seligman

Second place

        Adeline Coenen
        Thomas Jefferson Middle School, Dubuque
        Teacher: Laura Lenz

Third place

        Ellie Wilson
        Prairie Ridge Middle School, Ankeny
        Teacher: John Stratton

Best Essays, Grades 8-9

First place - General category

        Kari Swanson
        North High School, Sioux City
        Teacher: Korey Cantrell

First place - STEM category
        Daisy Sieben
        North High School, Sioux City
        Teacher: Korey Cantrell

Second place

        Elise Sturgeon
        North High School, Sioux City
        Teacher: Korey Cantrell

Third place

        Andie Exline
        Stephen Hempstead High School
        Teacher: Marcya Grudzina

The video from the 2015 celebration will be coming soon. For a video of the 2014 awards ceremony, click here.

2015 Celebration Day

group photo of winners

On March 12, 2015, the winners came to Des Moines to celebrate their success.
Students were introduced in both chambers of the Iowa General Assembly,
met with Governor Branstad,
and enjoyed a tour of the Iowa Capitol.


Focus of Essays

Students are encouraged to choose a woman, preferably from Iowa, from any historical period, past or present, and write about the accomplishments of her life and how she has made a difference to the student and to society in the social justice and civil rights arena. Although Iowa women are preferred and encouraged, the subject of the essay may be a woman from another state or another country.

Essays should identify the following:

  • Why the woman should be written into history (i.e., what meaningful contributions has she made to her community, the state, nation, or world?), and
  • Why she is important to the student. Students should consider what people would learn about us from this essay 50 years from now.

A successful essay will discuss why the student researched, read about, interviewed, and/or found the subject to be a role model; it should not merely be a biographical sketch. A student’s own thoughts on the significance of the woman’s contributions are important.

Oral interviews are strongly recommended. Other research methods may be used as long as the information in the essay is accurate and sources are cited.

Can You Participate?


Any Iowa youth in grades 6 - 9th may enter one essay.


Cash prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third place winner in each of the 6-7th Grade and 8-9th Grade divisions (first place - $100, second place - $75, and third place - $50).

Special awards and cash prizes are given to the best essays on women in science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) in each of the 6-7th grade and 8-9th grade divisions.

All winners will be honored in a ceremony at the State Historical Building and introduced in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Past Winners

Copies of the winning essays and lists of winners for previous contests:

For more information, contact Kristen Corey at women@iowa.gov or (515) 281-4470.

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