Nine jaw-droppingly awesome women who have invented, innovated, busted down, broken through, and generally amazed.
1) "Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."
Acclaimed poet and civil rights activist, Alice Walker is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple, which inspired Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film and was adapted for stage in 2005.
2) From exile to executive
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the President of Liberia and the first elected female head of state in Africa. Born in Liberia in 1938 and sent into exile by a military coup in 1980, she returned to speak out against the military regime and won the presidency in 2005. In 2011, she was one of a trio of women to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
3) Remember that movie “Blood Diamond”?
Co-founder of the watchdog NGO Global Witness, Charmian Gooch is dedicated to addressing the links between natural resource exploitation and the funding of conflict and corruption. Since the group’s founding in 1995, Global Witness has captured headlines for its exposé on "blood diamonds" in Uganda, minerals in the Congo and the illegal timber trade between Cambodia and Thailand.
4) And the Academy Award goes to...
Known for her incredible visuals and heart-pounding action sequences, film director Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for Best Director in 2008 for her film The Hurt Locker.
5) Out of orbit
On June 16, 1963, Soviet Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to travel into space. Aboard Vostok 6, she spent 48 orbits and 71 hours in space, which at the time represented more time spent in space than all U.S. astronauts combined.
6) The woman behind Cesar Chavez
Dolores Huerta has dedicated her life to improving social and economic conditions for farmers and workers. To further her fight, she co-founded the Agricultural Workers Association (AWA), now United Farm Workers, with Cesar Chavez. As a skilled organizer and negotiator, she has advocated for women, worker, and immigrant rights.
7) 24 years, 1 ground breaking role
In 1981, Ronald Reagan nominated Sandra Day O’Connor as a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. She received unanimous Senate approval and made history as the first woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. O'Connor cast a key swing vote in many important cases. She retired in 2006 after serving for 24 years on the Supreme Court.
8) Breaking down walls, building them back up
In 1981, at age 21 and while still an undergraduate at Yale, Maya Lin won a nationwide competition to create a design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund. Her minimalist design sparked controversy at the time, but since then her distinctive style has become an iconic monument in Washington, D.C.
9) "Every day, you have to prove yourself and convince — move forward and challenge yourself."
In 2011, Christine Lagarde became the first female managing director of the International Monetary Fund, charged with creating financial stability and reducing poverty in 188 countries around the world. She was named as Forbes 7th most powerful woman in the world.