Standford professor enlightens audience on women’s suffrage

A visiting professor from Stanford informed community members, faculty and students on how women’s suffrage has impacted the United States in the Pioneer Reading Room on March 15.

Grant Miller, assistant professor of medicine at Stanford School of Medicine, used historical information and statistics to explain how the women’s suffrage movement led to changes in voting behavior, public health spending and child mortality.

Miller began his presentation with a cartoon that displayed children marching with a sign protesting for their mother’s ability to vote.

The main focus of the lecture was whether households would benefit from the empowerment of women.

“This set of issues is not new at all,” Miller said.

Miller talked about how household hygiene was improved in a revolution called the “New Public Health.” He said that women were leading advocates for these campaigns and a large amount of public spending is linked to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

Miller gave a brief history of women’s suffrage, explaining how a great number of states passed women’s suffrage laws before the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

The overall summary of Miller’s findings was that women’s suffrage rights have benefited children due to the bacteriological revolution, large changes in political voting, increases in public health spending and the decline of child morality.

Miller used archived works and statistics collected from census data to develop the results of his research.

Statistics he focused on included state mortality information, state-level suffrage dates, public finance data and annual state public finance data.

Miller found that voter turnout rose by 44 percent, public health spending rose by 35 percent, state social service spending rose 25 percent and child mortality declined by 8 to 15 percent.

“The timing of these effects lines up sharply with women’s suffrage,” Miller said.

He provided evidence of his approach to show that there were no drastic changes prior to women’s suffrage laws being developed.

Miller ended the lecture by leaving the audience wondering why the U.S. has had so much success in comparison to other countries.

“There are a lot of things to be learned from the historical side of things,” Miller said.

This lecture was sponsored by the Edith Green endowed lecture fund in honor of the 100-year anniversary of women’s suffrage in Oregon.

Ivanna Tucker/
Features editor
Ivanna Tucker can be reached at

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