Amazing Women Spotlight: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The first elected female head of state in African history and the first female Minister of Finance in Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf faced arrest and exile as an opponent of two violent, corrupt regimes and was further displaced by an ensuing civil war in Liberia. After the civil war and her election to the presidency in 2006, Sirleaf negotiated the lifting of international trade sanctions against Liberia, secured complete forgiveness of the country’s crushing external debt after 25 years of internal fighting, established a right to free, universal elementary education, enforced women’s rights, greatly invested in Liberian infrastructure, which helped … Continue reading Amazing Women Spotlight: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Amazing Women Spotlight: Shirin Ebadi

A human rights lawyer, advocate, and the first Irani female judge and chief justice, Shirin Ebadi was removed from her post as judge after the Islamic Revolution due to the traditionally misogynistic nature of the new Islamic laws. Ebadi refused to accept this, however, and decided to obtain her license and open her own law practice. As an independent lawyer, Ebadi began defending those who were persecuted by the new Islamic state authorities, such as the families of murder victims and journalists. For her work defending those who went against the Islamic government, Ebadi was eventually arrested. In addition to … Continue reading Amazing Women Spotlight: Shirin Ebadi

Amazing Women Spotlight: Chief Wilma Mankiller

No electricity, no indoor plumbing, no telephone, and the sixth of eleven siblings, Wilma Mankiller was born in 1945 on the Cherokee reservation lands in Oklahoma and would rise up to be the first female elected chief in Cherokee nation history. At age ten, Mankiller and her family moved to San Francisco as part of a federal program to provide indigenous peoples with jobs in exchange for the reclamation of federally subsidized reservation land. However, in San Francisco Mankiller’s family only found sporadic job opportunities and discrimination. Mankiller grew up in San Francisco, and in 1969 she became involved in … Continue reading Amazing Women Spotlight: Chief Wilma Mankiller

Amazing Women Spotlight: Mary Jackson

Mary Jackson was born on April 9, 1921 in Hampton, Virginia, and grew up during the Jim Crow Era in which segregation and discrimination against black Americans was legalized and systemic. Despite the social and legal adversity she faced as a black woman, Jackson graduated from Hampton Institute in 1942 with degrees in both mathematics and physical sciences. In 1951 Jackson was recruited by NACA, NASA’s predecessor, and worked in the Langley Aeronautical Laboratory’s West Area Computers for two years. Jackson then began to work alongside NASA’s engineers and was encouraged to enter a training program to become an engineer … Continue reading Amazing Women Spotlight: Mary Jackson