Women's Studies

Annual MPS Middle and High-School Essay Contest:
Wisconsin Women Making History

Essay Contest Purpose

In honor of March as Women's History month, UWM Women's Studies invites middle-school and high school students from the Milwaukee Public Schools to explore and celebrate the histories of Wisconsin women by participating in our annual essay contest.

Wisconsin women have had a diverse and complex history both before and after the territory of Wisconsin became a state in 1848. Many have raised families, educated children, and worked in their communities as volunteers. Others have held paid jobs and pursued careers, combining family and work responsibilities.

However, their contributions to Wisconsin have often remained invisible, because historians have only recently considered activities by women as worthy of attention. Most women's lives and experiences are still unknown. To reclaim the history of the private lives and public roles of Wisconsin women is to discover how people lived and what they valued. Until we know what women did and thought and experienced, we will only know half the story.

The purpose of the essay contest, Wisconsin Women Making History, is to help tell the other half of the story. You can be a part of the process: Read about women and talk to women in your family and neighborhood.

Wisconsin Women Making History

Students are to choose one Wisconsin woman, of any background and from any historical period (including the present), and write about that woman's contribution to her community, city, town, or to the state of Wisconsin. We encourage students to use a variety of ways to gather information including interviews and community and school library resources.


Judges will choose winning essays at the middle and high school levels. Winners will receive a monetary award and be invited to attend the annual Women's Studies Student Awards Ceremony held in March, which is Women's History month. All participants will receive a certificate of achievement. Essays will not be returned; students should make a personal copy if they wish to retain their work. PLEASE NOTE: Winners will be asked to provide a social security number. Contact the Women’s Studies Program at 414-229-5918 for more information.


  • Essays should include a good (i.e., persuasive) explanation of why the student chose to focus on a particular woman and what this woman means to the student.
  • Essays should be well organized, with an introduction, body, and conclusion.
  • Essays should make use of evidence, and should include specific examples.
  • Students should identify their sources of information in footnotes or in the body of the essay.
  • Essays should be well written, with proper punctuation, grammar, and spelling.

Essay Contest Rules:

  • ALL MPS middle and high school students, grades 6-12, may participate.
  • Essays should be between 250 and 750 words, typed using 12 point font, and double-spaced, with margins set to at least one inch on all sides. Please select a legible font, such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Essays should have a title. The title should be at the top of the first page.
  • Do not put your name on the essay. Your name should appear on the entry form only.
  • Complete an official entry form and attach to your essay. Photocopies of the entry form are acceptable.
  • Every student should sign an entry form and ask her or his teacher to do the same. This will certify that the essay is an original work.
  • Entry forms and essays should be mailed by the deadline to:
MPS Essay Contest
Women's Studies
NWQ Building B, Room 7585
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
P.O. Box 413 Milwaukee, WI 53201

Contact the Women's Studies office at (414) 229-5918 for deadline information and an entry form.