The Introduction explains how this VSI highlights the diversity of American women's experiences as continually shaped by factors such as race, class, religion, geographical location, age, and sexual orientation. Without downplaying the historical constraints and barriers blocking women's advancement, the story emphasizes women as active agents rather than passive victims throughout U.S. history. It is neither possible nor desirable to write about women in isolation from men or separate from national events and trends. Instead women's stories link to larger themes at the same time they often challenge them. By fully integrating these stories into the broader national story, a richer understanding of U.S. history in all its complexity will be achieved.