Wilma Scott Heide (1921-1985)


Inspiration for activism! 

  • Nurse who filed a complaint against the Pittsburgh Press for posting of classified ads

    Wilma Scott Heide, 1985

    by gender, claiming this practice discriminated against women, which resulted in a city ordinance banning the practice; the ban was upheld by the U.S. Supreme court in 1973.

  • Staged a protest in the US Senate in 1970, resulting in finally bringing out of committee the US Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the constitution.
  • Third President of the National Organization for Women (1971-1974); insisted on recognition and inclusion of lesbians in the organization.
  • Worked closely with the leadership of the American Nurses Association to advance nurses economic and general welfare; led in the ANA decision, in 1971, to support the Equal Rights Amendment (reversing their staunch public opposition).
  • Wrote one of the first articles on feminism published in the nursing literature: Heide, W. S. (1973). Nursing and women’s liberation–a parallel. The American Journal of Nursing, 73(5), 824–827.
  • Crossed the country in an “ERAmobile” in the summer of 1976, portraying the life of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
  • Wrote the Introduction to Jo Ann Ashley’s landmark book “Hospitals, Paternalism and the Role of the Nurse,” stating that: “It is not that nurses have done so little in spite of institutional oppression, what surely much be recognized is that nurses have done a great deal . . . . Feminist nurses invite and welcome other health care practitioners to create the kind of world where the power of love exceeds the love of power.”
  • Well known for her creative use of language and quips:
    • “I do not refer to myself as a housewife for the reason that I did not marry a house”
    • “The only jobs for which no man is qualified are human incubators and wet nurse. Likewise, the only job for which no woman is or can be qualified is a sperm donor”
    • “The hand that rocks the cradle should also rock the boat.”
    • “Semi-versities: Intellectual Rape” – referring to the utter lack of women’s perspectives in education and the gendering of knowledge.

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