WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH IS A TIME TO HONOR AND CELEBRATE THE ACHIEVEMENTS AND STRUGGLES OF WOMEN.
To celebrate Women’s History Month, Glass Half Funded is recognizing women from all walks of life who have broken barriers.
We highlighted a woman each day across all of our social media channels, from politicians to businesswomen to artists to athletes. If you missed it, keep reading! And even if you were following along on social media, this article gives more detail on each of the amazing women.
LET’S START WITH THE HISTORY BEHIND WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH.
Women’s History Month actually began as Women’s History Week in 1982 under President Reagan.
Reagan said “American women of every race, creed, and ethnic background helped found and build our Nation in countless recorded and unrecorded ways … As leaders in public affairs, American women not only worked to secure their own rights of suffrage and equal opportunity but also were principal advocates in the abolitionist, temperance, mental health reform, industrial labor and social reform movements, as well as the modern civil rights movement.”
Five years later (in 1987, still under President Reagan), the National Women’s History Project petitioned to designate the entire month instead of one week. The petition was successful and we have been celebrating Women’s History Month in March of every year since!
WOMEN WHO HELPED US KICK OFF 2021
Kamala Harris was elected to be the first female vice president. That’s not her only “first.” Harris, daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is also the first woman of color and first Asian American to serve as vice president. Harris attended Howard University and is the first graduate of an HBCU to be VP.
Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history at 22 years old. Gorman was chosen as the inaugural poet by Dr. Jill Biden. She was also named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 (when she was only 19). Gorman is an example of resilience and perseverance, overcoming a speech impediment to become the well-known orator she is today.
Janet Yellen was recently appointed to be the first female Treasury Secretary in U.S. history. Fun fact: she was sworn in by our first female vice president. Yellen is now the only person to have held the top three government economics jobs: Chief White House Economist, Head of the Federal Reserve, and now Head of the Treasury.
Rosalind (“Roz”) Brewer was recently tapped to be the new CEO of Walgreens. Brewer will be the only Black woman currently leading a Fortune 500 company (until Thasunda Brown Duckett takes over TIAA in May!). Previously, Brewer was the COO of Starbucks. Brewer also served as CEO of Sam’s Club, where she was the first woman and the first person of color to run a Walmart division.
WHITNEY WOLFE HERD
Whitney Wolfe Herd, founder of Bumble, became the youngest woman to take a company public at 31 years old. Taking a company public is very hard to do, but even harder for women. In 2020, of more than 400 companies that went public, only 4 were founded and led by women. Wolfe Herd was previously a co-founder of Tinder and ultimately sued the company for harassment before leaving to start Bumble, an app focused on encouraging women to make the first move.
WOMEN IN VENTURE CAPITAL
Arlan Hamilton is the Founder and Managing Partner of Backstage Capital. Before founding her venture firm, Hamilton was homeless. The name Backstage Capital is a nod to her background in entertainment management, as she spent several years in the entertainment industry in roles such as tour manager and production coordinator for various artists. Hamilton also recently published a book titled: It’s About Damn Time: How to Turn Being Underestimated Into Your Greatest Advantage.
Anu Duggal is the Founder of Female Founders Fund. Duggal definitely has an entrepreneurial spirit. She was a co-partner for The Tasting Room, India’s first wine bar, she co-founded Exclusively.In, an ecommerce company that was acquired by Myntra, and she was CEO of Doonya, a dance fitness media company. Duggal is consistently recognized for her success in the industry; she was included in Fortune’s “40 Under 40” list in 2018, named to Business Insider’s “Ultimate List of Female Startup Investors,” and Female Founders Fund was listed as one of the “Top 4 Venture Firms Investing in Women.”
Aileen Lee is the Founder and Managing Partner of Cowboy Ventures. Lee spent over ten years with the well-respected Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers before founding Cowboy Ventures. Lee also co-founded All Raise, a non-profit dedicated to increasing the investment dollars that go to female founders. Additionally, she coined the VC term “unicorn.”
Kirsten Green is the Founder and Managing Partner of Forerunner Ventures. She started her career at Deloitte, then moved into equity research for Bank of America before becoming an angel investor and independent consultant for both private equity and venture capital firms. Green was named to Barron’s “100 Most Influential Women in U.S. Finance.”
Theresia Gouw co-founded Acrew Capital in 2019 and previously co-founded Aspect Ventures in 2014. Prior to Aspect Ventures, she was a Managing Partner at Accel. Gouw is consistently recognized for her success in the industry; she has been on Forbes’ “Midas List” nine times, was named to Forbes’ “100 Most Powerful Women” list, was named one of the “40 Most Influential Minds in Tech” by Time Magazine, and was named to the Carnegie Corporation’s “Annual Distinguished Immigrants” list.
Arian Simone is a co-founder of Fearless Fund. Before founding Fearless Fund, Simone founded a successful PR and marketing firm. Simone is also a best-selling author, writing Fearless Faith + Hustle: 21 Day Devotional Journey and My Fabulous & Fearless Journey: From Homeless to Hollywood.
Jenny Abramson is the Founder and Managing Partner of Rethink Impact. She started her career at Boston Consulting Group and held leadership positions at companies such as LiveSafe, The Washington Post, and Personal. In addition to her duties at Rethink Impact, Abramson is a board member for organizations such as Winnie, NFL Players Association, FutureFuel.io, Sempre Health, and Ellevest. Abramson was named one of Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Powerful Women” and was also named a “DC Tech Titan.”
WOMEN WHO MADE STEM HISTORY
Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and is considered the world’s first computer programmer. She is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine. It is believed that she was the first one to recognize that the machine had implications beyond pure calculation. She is also believed to have written the first algorithm for that machine. In 2009, Ada Lovelace Day, which now occurs every second Tuesday of October, was established to recognize women in STEM.
Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and Navy rear admiral. She received her PhD from Yale University and her work led to the development of the early programming language, COBOL. She is credited with coining the term “bug” in reference to computer errors, when she found an actual moth in a computer machine. She has a supercomputer at the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center named after her.
Hedy Lamarr was an actress, film producer, and inventor. Her communication system work that helped during World War II was eventually used in WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth technology. She and her partner were posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014 for their work.
Annie Easley was a computer scientist, rocket scientist, and mathematician. She worked at NASA before it was called NASA (NACA at the time). She was a key member of the team that developed the software for the Centaur rocket stage. Easley was also an equal employment opportunity counsellor and helped train Black Americans to take the voting test in Alabama.
Mary Jackson was a mathematician and aerospace engineer. She was NASA’s first Black female engineer. Jackson spent her career working on airflow and aircraft before eventually leaving engineering to manage the women’s program at NASA. The NASA headquarters were recently named after her and she was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.”
Katherine Johnson was a math prodigy. She started high school when she was 10 years old and started college when she was 15 years old (graduating at 18 years old). Johnson took her math skills to NASA, using geometry for space travel. Her math helped put a man on the moon. Recently, a spacecraft was named after her and she was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.”
Dorothy Vaughan was a mathematician and computer programmer who made important contributions to the U.S. space program. She was the first Black manager at NACA (which later became part of NASA). She oversaw the group of Black female mathematicians, known as The West Computers, that provided data crucial to the success of the space program. Vaughan was depicted in the film “Hidden Figures.”
WOMEN WHO WRITE
Roxane Gay is an author, a contributor to the NYT, the founder of Tiny Hardcore Press, and a visiting professor at Yale University. Gay is the author of Bad Feminist (NYT bestseller), An Untamed State, Difficult Women, and Hunger. Gay has won several awards for her work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Eisner award, and two Lamda Literary awards. Queerty recently named her as one of 50 heroes “leading the nation toward equality, acceptance, and dignity for all people.”
Glennon Doyle is a bestselling author and an activist. Her works include Untamed, Love Warrior, and Carry On, Warrior. Doyle writes about her struggles with bulimia, addiction, her ex-husband’s infidelity, and how she rebuilt her family from the ground up when she fell in love with her current wife. She began her writing career with her blog, Momastery. Her foundation, Together Rising, has raised over $27M to date.
Jodi Kantor, along with Megan Twohey, first broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse in the NYT. The two later recounted the investigation in their book, She Said. Kantor won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for her work and was named to Time’s list of “100 Most Influential People of the Year.” Kantor also published The Obamas.
Megan Twohey, along with Jodi Kantor, first broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse in the NYT and won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for her work. Twohey was also one of the first journalists to uncover the shelving of DNA evidence after sex crimes. In response to her reporting, Illinois passed a law that requires every rape kit to be tested.
Tiffany Dufu is the author of Drop the Ball, a memoir that encourages women to “let go.” She is also the founder and CEO of The Cru, a peer coaching program. Dufu previously served as President of The White House Project, a non-profit focused on increasing female representation in government and business. Dufu is part of Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and sits on several boards, including Girls Who Code.
Margaret Atwood is a poet (18 published books of poetry), novelist (18 published novels and two published graphic novels), essayist (nine published collections of short fiction), teacher, environmental activist, and literary critic. One of her more famous works is The Handmaid’s Tale, which was adopted into a popular Hulu series. Atwood has won over 30 awards for her work and has been awarded honorary degrees from over 20 colleges and universities.
Celeste Ng is the author of Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Everything I Never Told You was a NYT bestseller and won Amazon’s “Book of the Year” in 2014. Little Fires Everywhere was recently adopted into a Hulu miniseries starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington. Little Fires Everywhere was also a NYT bestseller and won Amazon’s “Best Fiction Book of 2017.” Ng has received several awards for her work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship.
WOMEN IN SPORTS
Sarah Thomas made history as the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl. Before the Super Bowl, Thomas had already made history as the first woman to officiate a major college football game, an NCAA bowl game, and an NFL playoff game. Thomas found officiating after she was kicked out of a men’s basketball league by a pastor.
Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and is a 4-time Olympic gold medalist. She was the highest paid female athlete in 2016 and in 2017, she was the only woman to make Forbes’ list of “100 Highest Paid Athletes.” She and her sister own a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins; they were the first Black women to hold any amount of ownership in an NFL franchise. Williams also recently launched a venture capital firm, Serena Ventures.
Katherine Switzer was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as a registered competitor in 1967. The race manager at the time attempted to physically restrain her and prevent her from running, but she got away and finished the race. The photo of the incident became one of Time-Life’s “100 Photos that Changed the World.” Switzer went on to win the NYC Marathon in 1974. She has been inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the National Distance Running Hall of Fame.
Toni Breidinger is the first female Arab American race car driver to compete in a national NASCAR race series. She is a 19-time United States Auto Club (USAC) female race champion, which makes her the winningest female in USAC history, at only 21 years old. Breidinger recently finished 18th at Daytona (her goal was top 20) and appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
Rachael Denhollander is a lawyer and former gymnast. She was the first to publicly accuse Larry Nassar. She was Glamour’s “Woman of the Year” in 2018 and one of Time’s “100 Most Influential People of 2018.” Her story (along with other key women in the case) is featured in the Netflix documentary “Athlete A.” Denhollander has published two books, a memoir titled What Is a Girl Worth? and a children’s book titled How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?. The book titles are a reference to Denhollander’s quote when asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence on Larry Nassar during the sentence hearing.
I was so inspired writing about these awesome women and I hope reading about them inspired you, too! What I learned when researching these women is that anyone can make change, regardless of background. Many of these women were able to use the adversity they faced to do something good. If you learned something new or found a new shero, I would love to hear about it.