HERSTORY: 10 Trailblazing Women Who are Rewriting History
History is rife with examples of obstacles, challenges, and bias against women since the beginning of time. Despite this, or perhaps in response to such adversity, women have risen to the challenge over the centuries. Progress has been slow but consistent, and our hope is that one day, in the near future, the women of the world will not have to fight to be paid equally or seen as equals in any industry or environment. A day when female role models will be abundant and no longer the firsts in every industry.
Here are 10 trailblazers who are sparking this hope in the hearts of millions of women and girls across the world with their diverse cultural, educational, and professional backgrounds.
Susan Wojcicki: Having Mastered the A-Z of Alphabet
52, CEO, YouTube
Susan Wojcicki has been serving as the CEO of YouTube, the Alphabet subsidiary since 2014. Wojcicki's career progression is the perfect example of how you can start small in life and still end up spearheading a business empire with over 2 billion monthly users. It was in her rented-out garage in Menlo Park that the Google cofounders Sergey Brin and Larry Page developed the pilot of the Google search engine in 1998.
In 1999, Wojcicki joined Google as its 16th employee and hasn’t looked back since. She has handled everything in Google from Analytics and AdSense to Google Books and Images. She acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006 and has built its net worth to an estimate of $90 billion over the last 15 years. Educational Background:
BA History and Literature, Harvard University
MS Economics, University of California, Santa Cruz
MBA, UCLA Anderson School of Management
Marketing Manager, Google
Senior Vice President, Google
Jennifer Doudna: Altering Human DNA, Literally
56, Nobel Laureate for Chemistry in 2020
The renowned biologist Jennifer Doudna is best known for her contributions to CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) along with her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier for discovering that genes can be reprogrammed or edited, a breakthrough that has altered the face of biology. This development of a method of genome editing won this duo the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
BA Biochemistry, Pomona College in Claremont, California
Ph.D., Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School
Research Fellowship, Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Research Fellowship, Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Postdoctoral Scholar, Biomedical Science, University of Colorado Boulder
Research on ribozyme structure and function, Cech lab (1991) & Yale University (1996)
Assistant Professor, Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry Dept., Yale University
Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Li Ka Shing Chancellor's Professorship, Biomedicine, and Health, University of California, Berkeley
Chair of the Chancellor's Advisory Committee, Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Christina Koch: Out-of-this-world Achievement
42, American Engineer, Astronaut
Christina Koch is an engineer and an astronaut who recently returned to Earth after spending 328 days in space, setting a record for the longest time spent in space by a woman. This record was previously held by Peggy Whiston, a fellow American.
During her time in space, Koch performed hundreds of experiments and worked closely with foreign protein crystals and plants. She also contributed to countless studies that would set the course for future space expeditions, including how female astronauts can adjust to weightlessness, the stress of isolation, and the pressure of prolonged spaceflight.
BS Electrical Engineering and Physics, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC
MS Electrical Engineering, North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC
NASA Academy program at GSFC
Electrical Engineer, NASA GSFC's Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics
Research Associate, Firefighter, Ocean/Glacier Search & Rescue, United States Antarctic Program
Electrical Engineer, Space Department, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University
Field Engineer, NOAA's Global Monitoring Division Baseline Observatory, Barrow Alaska
Station Chief, American Samoa Observatory
Kamala Harris: Leading with Pride, That too in "Sensible” Shoes
56, Vice President, USA
On November 7, 2020, Kamala Harris achieved what no woman in American History had until then—she became the first woman of color to be elected as the US Vice President. If we trace back her career journey, it is evident that Harris is no stranger to firsts— she was the first woman of Indian and Jamaican heritage to be elected to the US Senate. Prior to that, she became the first woman of color to serve as California’s attorney general.
Harris went viral for spotting her wide range of Chuck Taylors throughout the election campaign. According to her, they are not just sensible or comfortable, but also protect Americans from all walks of life.
BA Political Science and Economics, Howard University, Washington, DC
JD, University of California, Hastings College of the Law
Vice President of USA
Jane Fraser: Knocking Down the Walls of Wall Street
54, President, Citigroup
Jane Fraser will be creating history within Citigroup by becoming the first female CEO of a prominent Wall Street Bank. As announced in 2020, Fraser will be succeeding Michael Corbat in February 2021. She has been a part of Citigroup since 2014 has a served in multiples roles including mergers and acquisitions, and corporate strategy. In her previous role as the CEO of the Global Consumer Bank, Fraser handled all of Citi’s Wealth Management, Retail Banking, Mortgage, Credit Cards, and Operations and Technology across 19 markets.
BA (Promoted to an MA) Economics, Girton College, Cambridge
MBA, Harvard Business School
Mergers & Acquisitions Analyst, Goldman Sachs, London
Partner, McKinsey and Company
Head of Client Strategy, Citigroup
Global Head of Strategy and Mergers and Acquisitions, Citigroup
CEO, Citi Private Bank
CEO, Citigroup Latin America
President of Citigroup CEO of Global Consumer Banking (GCB)
Rosalind Brewer: To Greener Pastures
59, CEO, Walgreens
Former Starbucks COO Rosalind or Roz Brewer has been tapped by Walgreens for the role of the CEO, making her the first African American female leader heading a Fortune 500 company. Brewer will be taking over for Stefano Pessina, who served as the CEO of Walgreens for the last 6 years.
In a recent interview, Pessina has expressed his appreciation for Brewer’s expertise in operations, talent development, digital innovation, and client relationships. As a part of her “role upgrade”, Brewer will be receiving a signing bonus worth nearly $25 million, in addition to her annual $1.5 million salary.
BS Chemistry, Spelman College Career Journey:
Research Technician, Kimberley Clark
President Manufacturing and Operations, Global President, Kimberly-Clark
VP, Senior VP, Executive VP for Southeast operations, Walmart Stores
President and CEO, Sam’s Club
Kim Ng: Hitting Like A Girl, and Winning
52, General Manager, Miami Marlins Baseball Team
Major League Baseball made some major changes when the Miami Marlines hired Kim Ng as their General Manager, a decision that has created waves among baseball fans across the country. Ng happens to be the very first woman and the second person of Asian descent to have elevated to the role of a General Manager among North America’s Male Major Leagues teams. This is truly a breakthrough in the world of baseball steered by men, especially white men.
BA Public Policy, University of Chicago
Intern, Chicago White Sox
Director of Waivers and Records, American League
Assistant General Manager, New York Yankees
Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers
General Manager, Miami Marlins
Greta Thunberg: The “Striking” Voice of The Future
18, Climate Activist
Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who held strikes in front of the Swedish Parliament to bring the attention of the world leaders towards Climate Change. Her protests began in 2015 when she was still in school, and she gained popularity in social media with the hashtag #FridaysForFuture, as she skipped school every Friday to hold her strikes.
By 2018, more than 20,000 students joined her in protest from the US, UK, Japan, and Belgium. She was invited to speak at the 2019 UN Climate Conference, for which she traveled to New York on a yacht for over two weeks, as she refuses to fly due to the environmental impact of the aircraft. She was also named Time Magazine's Person of the Year in 2019, making her the youngest person to hold that title.
Secondary School (ongoing)
Fritt Ord Award (2019)
Ambassador of Conscience Award (2019)
International Children's Peace Prize (2019)
Time Person of the Year (2019)
Gulbenkian Prize for Humanity (2020)
MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT
Oprah Winfrey: The “Effect” That Never Wears Off
67, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey has worn many hats during her career including that of a talk show host, news anchor, author, television producer, actress, and philanthropist. Her world-renowned talk show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, which was broadcast from Chicago was one of the highest-ranked shows in television history and ran for 25 years (1986-2011).
Oprah’s story is truly impactful because she was born into poverty and fought her way through every adversity to become the wildly successful entrepreneur she is today. Her net worth is $2.5 billion as of September 2020. She was referred to as “Arguably the world's most powerful woman" by CNN and Time.com, and we feel that it is arguably the best way to describe her. Educational Background:
BA Speech Communications and Performing Arts, HBCU Tennessee State University
Minimum wage worker at a grocery store
Part-time newsreader, WVOL radio station
News co-anchor, Nashville's WLAC-TV station
Talk show host, People Are Talking
Talk show host, The Oprah Winfrey Show
Producer, Actor, The Women of Brewster Place
Co-founder, Oxygen (Women’s Cable Network)
CEO, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN)
Multi-year content partnership, Apple TV+
Amanda Gorman: The Young Girl Who Stole the Spotlight
22, National Youth Poet Laureate
Young and fierce, Amanda Gorman is a poet and author who has been thrust into fame with her poem The Hill We Climb, which she recited during the inaugural function of President Joe Biden in January 2021. Her first poetry collection, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, was published in 2015 when she was just 16 years old.
Gorman was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017. She also created history by becoming the youngest poet to have performed recited during a Presidential inauguration. Gorman has been trending on social media since her debut appearance on national television and has been rightly using her spotlight to highlight personal hurdles like getting over a speech impediment and larger issues regarding the discrimination against the colored communities across the nation.
BA Sociology, Harvard College
Author, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, (2015)
Founder, One Pen One Page (Non-profit youth writing & leadership program)
Author, The Hill We Climb (2021)
Each of these women has a story of firsts to tell us. More importantly, they teach us how they have reached where they are by self-advocating for themselves and building relationships throughout their journey. Oprah Winfrey started out as a helper at a grocery store; Kim Ng began as an intern, Susan Wojcicki took the risk of joining a company that started out in her garage — most success stories emerge out of nothing when you are ready to put everything into your passion. Take that chance today, and encourage the young girls around you to do the same.
Gear up to write your “Herstory”.
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