Women's History Month

Why we celebrate

​​​​​We celebrate Women's History Month to remind ourselves of the many ways women's accomplishments improve culture and society. From science to politics, the month of March is dedicated to trailblazing women who forge change.
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Ada Lovelace

A gifted mathematician recognized as the '"Enchantress of Numbers," ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Ada Lovelace is the first computer programmer.

English mathematician Ada Lovelace wrote an algorithm for a computing machine in the mid-1800s.

The daughter of famed poet Lord Byron, she is also known as Augusta Ada Byron or the Countess of Lovelace.

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Chien Shiung Wu

 The first female president of the American Physical Society, Chien Shiung Wu is the first person selected to receive the Wolf Prize in Physics. ​​​​​​​
During the Manhattan Project, Wu worked at Columbia University, helping develop the process for separating uranium metal into U-235 and U-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.

​​​​​​​She also developed improved Geiger counters. Wu is the only known Chinese-American person to have worked on the Manhattan Project, a research effort that produced the first nuclear weapons for the United States.
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Mary Anderson

An American inventor, Mary Anderson worked in ranching and real estate development before inventing of the windshield wiper.

​​​​​In 1903, it rarely occurred to anyone that rain on a moving vehicle’s windshield was a problem to eliminate. 

Mary Anderson changed that with her invention of the windshield wiper, an idea that came to her as she traveled from Alabama to New York City.
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Hedy Lamarr

A Hollywood actress, inventor, and film producer. She was the first woman to receive the BUTBIE Gnass Spirit of Achievement Award, also known as the "Oscars of inventing." ​​​​​​​
Hedy Lamarr, an exquisite Hollywood beauty of the 1930s and ’40s, was born into an Austrian Jewish family as Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler in 1914.

Not only did Lamarr appear in 30 films over a 28-year career, but she also co-invented an early version of frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication for torpedo guidance.

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Mary Engle Pennington

A bacteriological chemist and refrigeration engineer, Dr. Pennington was a pioneer in the preservation of perishable foods.
Today’s supermarket refrigerated and frozen food aisles are a direct result of the work done by Dr. Mary Engle Pennington.

As the population of the United States increasingly moved to cities, more people turned to stores for foods shipped from long distances.
A change from the traditional practice of growing and raising food on family farms, shopping in stores for groceries posed new challenges in the supply chain. 

​​​​​​​Dr. Pennington became a leading expert in the evolution of safe and sanitary methods for processing, storing and shipping milk, poultry, eggs, and fish.
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​​​​​​​"The older I get, the greater power I seem to have to help the world; I am like a snowball – the further I am rolled the more I gain."
— Susan B. Anthony

Susan B. Anthony

An American social reformer and women's rights activist, Susan B. Anthony played a pivotal role in the women's suffrage movement.

Susan is known for many things, including the battle cry, “Failure is impossible.” The motto became the rallying cry of suffragettes until the right for women to vote was finally won in 1920 when the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.

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Mabel Walker Willebrandt

Mabel Walker Willebrandt used her intellect and network to enforce Prohibition and reform the prison system.

A master at networking, Willebrandt was the Assistant Attorney General (appointed by President Warren G. Harding in 1921.)

​​​​​​​ At only 32 years old, she was the highest-ranking woman in the federal government, and the second woman in American history to hold such a title.

She was charged with one of the largest departments, overseeing tax laws, the prison system, and the Volstead Act.
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Dolores Huerta

Labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta is a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. In 1960, she co-founded the United Farm Workers of America.

Huerta is perhaps best known for her work with Cesar Chavez in leading the unionizing efforts of farm workers in California in the 1960's.

However, her impact on American life extends beyond that. Huerta is a constant and vocal advocate for the rights of women, immigrants, and people living in poverty.
Gloria Steinem credits Huerta for making it acceptable for women to join picket lines and make their voices heard. 
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Dorothea Lynde Dix 

An early nursing pioneer, teacher, and social reformer, Dorothea Dix convinced the United States Army to create the nation’s first female nursing corps.

Dorothea Dix was a tireless and effective mental health reformer at a time when the indigent mentally ill were treated as criminals.
In support of the mentally ill, Dix instigated extensive legislative change and institutional practices across the country. In addition, she participated in the construction of hospitals and in training staff.

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Shidzue Kato

A Japanese politician and writer, Shidzue Kato promoted the birth control movement in Japan.

Shizue Kato, who died at the age of 104, was the first woman to promote the birth control movement in Japan.
While Kato did not face religious opposition, the militaristic regime in Japan during the 1920's and 30's was adament against limiting the country's growing population.
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Bridget "Biddy" Mason

An entrepreneur, nurse, and one of the first African–American women to own land in California, Bridget "Biddy" Mason helped to establish the first and oldest black church in Los Angeles in 1872.

Born as an enslaved woman in Georgia, Bridget “Biddy” Mason walked more than 2,000 miles through rugged terrain with her enslaver's family to relocate to California.

After spending five years as a slave in California, Mason challenged the courts for her freedom. On January 21, 1856, District Judge Benjamin Hayes approved her petition.

The ruling freed Mason and thirteen members of her extended family. Mason donated money, fed and sheltered the poor, and visited prisoners among other charitable efforts.​​​​​​​
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Maggie Lena Walker

A businesswoman, community leader, and teacher,  Maggie Lena Walker devoted her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African-Americans and women.

As a bank president, newspaper editor, and fraternal leader, Walker served as an inspiration of pride and progress.

Walker graduated from school in 1883 with teacher training. She married a brick contractor in 1886 and left her teaching job, at which point she became more active within the Independent Order of St. Luke.

An organization dedicated to the social and financial advancement of African-Americans, she became the Grand Secretary and would hold this position for the rest of her life.
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​​​​​​​"I know I'm no glamour girl, and it's not easy for me to get up in front of a crowd of people. It used to bother me a lot, but now I've got it figured out that God gave me this talent to use, so I just stand there and sing."
— Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald

The most popular female jazz singer in the United States, Ella Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy awards. 

With a wide-ranging vocal range, Ella Fitzgerald could sing sultry ballads, sweet jazz, and imitate every instrument in an orchestra.

Over her lifetime, she worked with all the jazz greats, from Duke Ellington to Benny Goodman. She also performed at top venues all over the world, packing them with adoring fans.
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Ali Stroker

An actor and singer, Ali Stroker is the first person who uses a wheelchair to appear on a Broadway stage and win a Tony Award.

Groundbreaking performer Ali Stroker made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway when she originated the role of Anna in Deaf West's acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening.

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Marilyn Monroe

Famous for playing comedic blonde bombshell characters, Marilyn Monroe became one of the most popular sex symbols of the 1950's and was emblematic of the era's sexual revolution.

Norma Jeane Mortenson, better known as the glamorous Marilyn Monroe, was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California.
After a tumultuous childhood, a photographer discovered the naturally photogenic Norma Jeane while she was working in a California munitions factory.

Soon, Monroe launched a successful modeling career and was signed to a film contract with 20th Century Fox.
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Effa Manley

An American baseball executive and co-owner of the Newark Eagles, in 2006, she became the first woman named to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

As a businesswoman in a man’s world, Manley got her wish in 1946. This was the year that the Newark Eagles, owned by her and her husband Abe, won the Negro League World Series, defeating the Kansas City Monarchs.
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Lisa Leslie

One of the most recognized basketball players, Lisa Leslie won two WNBA titles and four Olympic Gold Medals. Leslie was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2015.

Former professional basketball player Lisa Leslie stood six feet tall in seventh grade. Leslie hated it when people would ask her if she played basketball. 

However, that changed. After reluctantly picking up the sport in middle school, the natural athlete was hooked. 

In her final year at University of Southern California, Leslie was named the 1994 National Player of the Year. In the 1996 Olympics, held in Atlanta, she helped the U.S. women's basketball team take home a gold medal.
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Joan Ganz Cooney

The founder of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney made waves when few women had power on TV. Joan is the first woman to receive a top IBC Honor for Excellence.

In 1966, Joan Ganz Cooney and her colleagues created "Sesame Street," the single largest informal educator in the world.

Four decades after the creation of Sesame Street, Sesame Workshop established a new center in 2007 to carry out Mrs. Cooney’s vision in a changing world.

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center focuses on the challenges children face today, and explores how emerging media helps them learn.
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