March Hot Topic: Empowering Women

March is Women’s History Month and quickly coming to a close.  This month’s Hot Topic looks back at some prominent women that took a stand and made a difference.  Many of the women mentioned in this Hot Topic have shattered records, cleared trails, and underwent trials simply for being women.

Some of the names below are household names, while others you many not have heard of, but have had just as important impact on technology, life, and social norms.  Read on about empowering women from the past century.  Words of wisdom from each woman are listed to empower you to do your best and keep chugging away at what you do best!

Oprah Winfrey  (1954-  )

Oprah Winfrey is known as the queen of all media.  Honestly, how does one begin to describe her as a person and what she has done?  Oprah uses TV as a medium to help women and men live life to the fullest.  Her book club has helped some find a passion in reading and learning, while her charity work and gracious donations to non-profit organizations have helped out thousands of families around the world.

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work. ~Oprah Winfrey

Rosa Parks  (1913 – 2005)

Rosa Parks was a civil right activist.  In 1955, Parks famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white man.  Her arrest sparked the Montgomery bus boycott, led by Martin Luther King Jr. — a turning point in the civil rights movement. Her life exemplified commitment and courage.

I knew someone had to take the first step and I made up my mind not to move. ~Rosa Parks

Eleanor Roosevelt  (1884 – 1962)

Eleanor Roosevelt held a magnitude of roles and titles.  She was a first lady, U.S. Delegate to the United Nations, and a human rights activist.  Married to President Roosevelt during World War II (WWII) she took on the role of the national reassurer during WW II.  Mrs. Roosevelt supported working women and stood up for justice.  Who knew she was shy prior to being First Lady.  Luckly she overcame her shyness and helped her husband lead a nation during a time of war and stood up for the working class women to become a well known public figure in American politics.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.  ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Amelia Earhart (1897 – 1937)

Amelia Earhart was an aviator that had a deep passion for aviation.  She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.  Even though her disappearance while flying was tragic, her legacy of doing what you love is known today.  Back in the early 1900’s females were not exactly encourage to partake in such “dangerous” activities.  While she may not have succeeded in flying around the She accomplished a larger mission, dramatically expanding the world’s notions of how high a woman can soar.

“The woman who can create her own job is the woman who will win fame and fortune.” “It is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.” ~ Amelia Earhart

“Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” ~ Amelia Earhart

Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

Marie Curie was a chemist and Nobel prize-winning physicist.  She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize in two areas (she shared one with husband Pierre).  Curie codiscovered two elements, radium and polonium, and coined the term “radioactivity.”  She was one of the first to suggest using radiation to treat cancer. Curie helped usher in the atomic age and revolutionize chemistry, physics, and medicine — while fighting deep prejudice against women in the sciences.

“Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas.”  ~Marie Curie

Rosie the Riveter
 (1942-  )

As a factory worker, Rosie the Riveter symbolized women’s contribution to the war effort.  Real-life Rosies filled factory positions while men were away (the number of American working women grew by 50 percent in four years), proving that women could excel at a “man’s job.”  Many of you being SWEsters may have seen renditions of the ever popular “We Can Do It” poster with a re-phrasing of “SWE Can Do It”.  But, did you know that the iconic poster was based on a picture from a Region H Ann Arbor, Michigan native by the name of Geraldine Hoff?  She was 17 years old at the time and was working as a metal-stamping machine operator.

Annie Oakley (1860 – 1926)

Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter.  Honestly.  Phoebe Ann Mosey joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show the year GH was launched. She was a strong supporter of women’s rights.  Girl fans were in awe that she had met her husband by beating him in a shooting match: Anything he could do, she could do better.

“Aim at a high mark and you will hit it. No, not the first time, not the second time and maybe not the third. But keep on aiming and keep on shooting for only practice will make you perfect. Finally you’ll hit the bull’s-eye of success.”  ~Annie Oakley
Gertrude Belle Elion (1918 – 1999)

Gertrude Belle Elion was a medical researcher.  Thousands of people were given a second chance because of her: This Nobel Prize-winning research scientist codeveloped two drugs that fought leukemia and, in 1957, developed the first immunosuppressant agent, a development that made it possible to transplant organs.

“Don’t be afraid of hard work.  Nothing worthwhile comes easily.  Don’t let others discourage you or tell you that you can’t do it.  In my day I was told women didn’t go into chemistry.  I saw no reason why we couldn’t.”  ~Gertrude Belle Elion

Susan Solomon (1956-  )

Susan Soloman was an atmospheric scientist.  As a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, she helped determine what caused the hole in the ozone layer.  Her work led to the global ban on chemicals like the propellants in old-style aerosol cans.

Julia Morgan (1872 – 1957) 

Julia Morgan earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 1894.  She overcame the challenges of her office catching fire in 1906 by rebuilding and picking up where she left off.  Morgan was the architect that designed the Hearst Castle.  Among other imaginative buildings, and Morgan opened doors to and encouraged women by hiring them as artists and architects for her projects.

While doing researching stories for this Hot Topic I came across a site called No Country For Young and Old Women.  I found this site very inspiring and packed with information on past trail blazers.  The ultimate goal of the site is to become a wide-ranging archive of women’s stories about their lives and careers, so that their stories and achievements can provide real role models and inspire others to pursue their goals and fulfill their potential.


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