University of New Mexico Distinguished Professor of History Virginia Scharff is the first author/researcher of “Women and the Myth of the American West,” published in Time magazine.

The article originally appeared on Zócalo Public Square, a website designed for “connecting people to ideas and to each other.”

The article is part of the “What It Means to Be American” series. For this particular piece, Zócalo asked historians: What opportunities did the American West offer women that they may not have had back East?

Scharff noted that after the Civil War, many women came West. “Those women found plenty of opportunities in the West that were not available in the East: everything from the right to vote to equal pay for women teachers to more liberal divorce laws."