Write Women Back Into History Essay Contest

Sponsored by 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

Click here for the 2015 Write Women Back Into History Guidelines and Entry Form (in PDF or Word).

The theme for 2015 is “Weaving the stories of women's lives.” The deadline for 2015's contest has been extended to January 30th, 2015.

2014 Contest Winners

Best Essays, Grades 6-7

First place - General category

       Ellen Harrington
       Cowles Montessori School, Windsor Heights
       Teacher: Edward Moody

First place - STEM category

        Sid McCrea
        College Community School District, Cedar Rapids
        Teacher: Amy Kay

Second place

        Connor Fagen
        PCM Middle School, Prairie City
        Teacher: Jennifer Ropes

Third place

        Emma McHargue
        PCM Middle School, Prairie City
        Teacher: Jennifer Ropes

Best Essays, Grades 8-9

First place - General and STEM categories

        Nisha Barnhill
        Merrill Middle School, Des Moines
        Teacher: Kari Ferring

Second place

        Ryan Weiss
        Ames High School, Ames
        Teacher: Kate Engelkes

Third place

        Lyndi Kiple
        Sergeant Bluff-Luton High School, Sergeant Bluff
        Teacher: Kelly Grote

For a video of this year's awards ceremony, click here.

2014 Celebration Day

group photo of winners

On March 13, 2014, 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 Lt. Governor Reynolds,
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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