International Women’s Month is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The month also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality. (Sruthi Ramesh)
International Women’s Month is a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The month also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

Sruthi Ramesh

Important Women Throughout History

Pertinent women and what they did from the 1900s to 2020s

March 18, 2021

“International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.”

Marie Curie, 1900s- Discovered Radium 

Marie Sklodowska Curie was born November 7, 1867 in Warsaw, Poland. In 1891 Currie moved to Paris where she got her Licenciateships in Physics and the Mathematical sciences. She met her husband in one of the schools she went to and she gained her Doctor of Science degree. Following her husband’s death, she took his place as Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences. This was the first time a woman had held that position. Both she and her husband Pierre Curie discovered that radium destroys cells that have a disease faster than healthy cells do, and that radium could be used to treat tumors. Both she and her husband received the Davy Medal of the Royal Society in 1903. For Marie’s research in the “radiation phenomena” in 1903, Curie became the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize. In 1911 she was also awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry due to isolating radium. In 1921 President Harding of the United States gave her one gram of radium in recognition of her contribution to science. Marie died July 4, 1934, from aplastic anemia which was most likely caused by the immense amounts of radiation exposure throughout her lifetime.

Margaret “Molly” Tobin Brown, 1910s- Survived The Titanic Sinking And Philanthropist 

Margaret Tobin Brown was born July 18, 1867, in Hannibal, Missouri. In 1893 she moved to Colorado where Brown became a social activist who joined the Denver Women’s Club and the Denver Women’s Press Club. She supported many charities and was very passionate about helping women and children in need. During the Progressive Era Brown joined reformers who wanted to install public bathrooms in the courthouse and she advocated for more city parks along with other city improvements. Brown tried to win a seat in the Senate, however, she withdrew from the race the day before the election, breaking gender barriers and she realized the bigger political issue that she would actively follow for another 20 years. She loved to travel and was in Egypt until she heard the news that her grandson was ill, she quickly boarded the next ship to America, the Titanic. On April 12 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg Brown helped six other passengers onto a lifeboat before she was forced into one. She traveled overseas during World War 1 to serve as Director Committee for Devastated France. The French government awarded her the French Legion of Honor for her work. On October 26, 1932, Brown died in her sleep in New York City.    

Amelia Earhart, 1920s-1930s- First Women To Fly Over the Atlantic

Amelia Mary Earhart was born July 24, 1897, in Atchison Kansas. During World War 1 she was a Red Cross nurse’s aid in Toronto, Canada. After the war, she moved back to the United States where she started a pre-med student. She took her first airplane ride in California in December of 1920 and fell in love with flying. In January of 1921, she took flying lessons and she passed her flight test in December 1921, earning a National Aeronautics Association license. Her first record was in 1922 when she was the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 feet. After placing third in the All-Women’s Air Derby Earhart helped form The Ninety-Nines and became the first president of the organization of licensed pilots. In 1932 Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. Later that year she made the first solo nonstop flight across the United States, she also was the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the United States mainland in 1935. Earhart was last seen alive when she was departing from Lae to fly to Howland Island. It was later determined she was lost at sea.

Anne Frank, 1940 -Revealed What Life Was Like As A Jew During WW2

Annelies Marie “Anne” Frank was born June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt, Germany. Anne was a Jewish child who wrote a diary during the Holocaust, describing her experiences during that time. The Frank family hid from July 9, 1942, to August 4, 1944, with four other Jews, and were kept alive by Dutch office workers. Eventually, the office workers betrayed them, and the family was deported to Westerbork camp, and then to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In 1944 Anne arrived with her sister in Bergen-Belson, where she fell ill and died of Typhus in March of 1945. Her diary has been translated into many languages and describes the experiences of the Holocaust experienced by Anne along with her family and friends in the annex. The diary also features her hopes and dreams for the future.  

Grace Hopper, 1940s-1950s-Computer Engineer and Naval Officer

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper was born December 2, 1906, in New York, New York. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Hopper wanted to join the war efforts. Hopper was assigned to the Bureau of Ships of Communications Project at Harvard University. She joined a team working on the first IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (MARK I), which was the first electromechanical computer in the United States. Hopper and her colleagues worked on computing rocket trajectories, calibrating minesweepers, and creating range tables for new anti-aircraft guns. From 1944 to 1949 she continued her work on MARK I and MARK II under the Navy’s contract. Hopper worked on the Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC I), and while working on the UNIVAC I, she had the idea of automatic programming and found new ways to use computers to code. In 1952 she developed the first compiler named A-O which translated mathematical code into machine-readable code. In 1956 both Hopper and her team created the FLOW-MATIC, the first programming language to use commands which used regular English words and were designed for data processing. In 1959 Hopper helped design the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL) and later became one of the most used computer languages in the world. Hopper was awarded the IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award (1988), National Medal of Technology and Innovation (1991), and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2016). Hopper died of natural causes on January 1, 1992, in Arlington, Virginia.         

Christine Jorgenson, 1950- First Publicly Transgender Women

Christine Jorgenson was born George William Joegenson, Jr., on May 20, 1926, in the Bronx, New York. As a teenager, Jorgenson was more jealous of girls rather than interested in them. She found photography and used it as an outlet as a way to release her mind from her personal struggles. Her father was a photographer and she took classes at the New York Institute of Photography. Jorgenson was drafted into the military in 1945, but she ended up being a clerk at Fort Dix, New Jersey. She was later discharged and in 1950 traveled to Denmark to begin her transition from male to female. This treatment could only be found in Europe at the time and consisted of hormone therapy and several operations. Her story went public in the United States in 1952 while she was still in Europe. When she returned home in 1953 she was met with reporters at the New York airport and answered a few questions. She never questioned her choice but many people ridiculed her. In 1959 she was engaged but denied a marriage license because her birth certificate has her listed as “male”.  Jorgenson’s public transition ignited conversations about gender identity and stands as an inspiration to others who experience questioning their gender. Jorgenson died of bladder and lung cancer on May 3, 1989. 

Indira Gandhi, 1960- First Female Prime Minister Of India

Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi was born on November 19, 1917, in Allahabad, India. She was the only child of Kamala and Jawaharlal Nehru. In 1947 Nehru became the nation’s first prime minister and Gandhi agreed to go to New Delhi to serve as his hostess- she welcomed diplomats and world leaders at home and traveled across India with her father. She was elected to the 21-member working committee of the Congress Party in 1955 and was later named its president. When Gandhi’s father died in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri became the new prime minister. However, two years later Shastri died and Gandhi was elected by Congress to become the new prime minister. Gandhi transformed India into a self-sufficient country for food grains, also known as the Green Revolution. In 1971 she supported the Bengali movement to separate East from West Pakistan she provided refugee for ten million Pakistani civilians who fled to India to escape the Pakistan army. India’s victory over Pakistan led to the creation of Bangladesh and Gandhi was awarded Bangladesh’s highest state honor forty years later. On October 31, 1984, Gandhi was assassinated outside her home by two of her bodyguards.

Angela Davis, 1970- Educator and Civil Rights Activist

Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham Alabama. In the 1960s Davis joined the Black Panther Party along with an all-black branch of the Communist Party called the Che-Lumumba Club. Davis became a supporter of the Soledad brothers who were three prison inmates in Soledad prison. The men were John W. Cluchette, Fleeta Drumgo, and George Lester Jackson, who were accused of killing a prison guard after several other African Americans had been killed in a prison fight by another guard. During Jackson’s trial in 1970, an escape was attempted when Jackson’s brother, Jonathon, claimed he would trade hostages for Jackson. A shoot-out occurred killing Jonathon, the Superior Court judge, and two other inmates. Davis was brought up on several accounts for her alleged part in the event, including the murder. She went into hiding and was the FBI’s “most wanted” for two months until she was caught. Her case drew the attention of the press and spent about 18 months in jail before she was clear to leave in 1972. After spending some time traveling and lecturing she went to the classroom as a professor and published several books.    

Sandra Day O’Connor, 1980-First Women To Serve On The Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’Connor was born March 26, 1930, in El Paso, Texas. In the 1960s she worked as an assistant attorney general in Arizona. Nine years later she moved to state politics with an appointment by Governor Jack Williams to fill a vacancy. O’Connor won re-election twice and she later ran for the position of judge in the Maricopa Country Superior Court. She formed a reputation of being strict but fair. In 1981 President Ronald Regan nominated her for associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She was the first female justice in the Supreme Court. O’Connor was moderately conservative and voted within her conservative nature, however, she focused more on the law and not the talk of other politicians and would vote for what she believed best fits the U.S. Constitution. In the Roe v. Wade case, O’Connor gave the vote to uphold the court’s earlier decision. O’Connor retired from the court on January 31, 2006. 

Madeleine Albright, 1990-First Female United States Secretary 

Madeleine Korbel Albright was born May 15, 1937, in Prague, Czech Republic. As a toddler, she and her family moved to the United States in Denver, Colorado. In 1972 she began her work as a legislative assistant to a Democratic senator named Edmund Muskie. About four years later she was hired to work for the National Security Council during the presidency of Jimmy Carter. In the early 1980’s she moved to the private sector working for different Washington nonprofit organizations and became a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University winning Teacher of the Year four times. In 1988 she became an adviser to Micheal Dukakis during his presidential bid. In 1922 under president-elect Bill Clinton he allowed Albright to take care of the United States’ relationship with the United Nations, the following year she quickly made a name for herself and became a force to reckon with. In December of 1996 President Clinton nominated her for becoming the Secretary of State, she was sworn into that position in January, becoming the 64th Secretary of State and the first woman to ever hold that position. Albright was an advocate for human rights and democracy throughout the world and fought to stop the spread of nuclear weapons from Soviet countries to others such as North Korea. Albright left in 2001 but she launched an investment fund for Albright Capital Management and she serves as co-chair of the Albright Stonebridge Group.      

Sonia Sotomayor, 2000-First Hispanic To Serve On The High Court

Sonia Sotomayor was born June 25, 1954, in the Bronx, New York. After her graduation from Yale University, studying law Manhattan attorney Robert Morgenthau hired Sotomayor to work in his office. She worked on crimes ranging from petty thefts to homicides, she helped to put some of the top criminals behind bars including the Tarzan murder case. She moved to a private practice that focused mainly on business and corporate law. The George H.W. Bush administration nominated Sotomayor to the United States District Court of New York in 1991. Sotomayor gained recognition when she “saved” Major League Baseball with her decision in Silverman v. Major League Baseball Player Regonitions Committee Inc. President Bill Clinton nominated Sotomayor to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, where she would hear over 3,000 cases. Due to Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s retirement in 2009, a slot was opened for Sotomayor. President Obama nominated Sotomayor for the Supreme Court and the Senate confirmed her in with a 68-31 vote. Sotomayor was sworn in on August 8, 2009, and is known for her trust in the judicial process and her ruthless attitude towards unprepared attorneys. She is also known for her kindness towards jurors and attorneys who work hard to advocate for their clients.     

Tammy Duckworth, 2010- First Disabled Female Veteran To Earn Election To The U.S. House of Representatives And The Senate 

Tammy Duckworth was born March 12, 1968, in Bangkok, Thailand. In 2004 Duckworth served as an Iraq war veteran and purple heart receiver. She was part of the Illinois National Guard until her helicopter was hit by an RPG which caused her to lose her legs and partial use of her right arm. After her recovery, Duckworth became Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs where she helped form a tax credit for people who hire veterans and create a crisis helpline for veterans. In 2009 President Obama made Duckworth the Assistant Secretary of Veteran Affairs. In the United States House of Representatives Duckworth served on the Armed Service Committee and was an advocate for working families and job creations, introducing the bipartisan Friendly Airports for Mothers (FAM). In 2016 she was elected into the Senate and she serves on several influential committees which give her an important platform to advocate for Illinois’ working families and entrepreneurs. She works on the Armed Services Committee, the Environment and Public Works Committee, the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee, and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee.    

Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett, 2020- Lead Scientist for the COVID-19 Vaccine  

Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Shanta Corbett was born on January 26, 1986, in Hurdle Mills North Carolina. Corbett is the scientific lead for the Coronavirus Vaccines and Immunopathogens Team at the National Institute of Health (NIH), National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and moved to the Vaccine Research Center (VRC) in 2014. Her work mainly focuses on COVID-19 and in response to the pandemic the vaccine mainly incorporates messenger ribonucleic acids (mRNA), the specific type of mRNA was designed by Corbett and her team of scientists, and the first clinical trial which took 66 days was passed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This vaccine is currently in its third trial. She has a total of 15 years of experience studying respiratory syncytial viruses, dengue viruses, influenza, and coronavirus.

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