Anyone unfortunate to dismiss Ruth Bader Ginsburg due to her diminutive stature quickly learned things the hard way. “Notorious RBG” was the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993.
She doggedly pursued justice for the rights of minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community. Justice Ginsburg knew all too well about exclusion. RBG stood her ground against micro and macro levels of sexist aggression throughout her career. She was a legend on the bench and a pop culture sensation.
In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel on the Challenger shuttle and into space. The astrophysicist beat out over 1,000 NASA hopefuls for a spot in the program. In a period when the world wasn’t fully committed to doing right by its women, Sally Ride inspired countless people and dedicated her life to science, learning, and inclusive spaces.
Ride wasn’t just the only woman in the room, she was also gay. The astronaut kept her sexuality hidden until her last days while battling cancer. She entrusted her surviving partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, to tell the world about it through her obituary.
Sandra Day O’Connor
“This chance will stand before you only once.” One of the many inspirational sayings by the indomitable Sandra Day O’Connor – the first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court who held the position for over 20 years. She became one of the most prolific women in U.S. law and politics.
Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, O'Connor won a unanimous vote in the Senate. Justice O’Connor played an instrumental role in upholding landmark cases like Roe v. Wade before things recently came crashing down.
Amy Tan lost her brother and father to cancer when she was young, and life spiraled out of control. She rebelled against her conservative mother and rejected her Chinese heritage. A trip to China in 1987 changed everything – rekindling half-memories and lost connections.
It inspired her to write “The Joy Luck Club,” which became the longest-running New York Times best-seller in 1989. The book was not only a personal achievement for the author but also told the stories and struggles of an under-represented Asian-American community at the time.
Seer, truth teller, and Nobel-Prize-winning author –Toni Morrison dedicated her life to chronicling the African-American experience. She shot to national fame after her first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” in 1970 – a haunting depiction of racial oppression and violence against women.
Morrison also taught literature and creative writing at various colleges. She continued writing beautiful prose about black lives, winning the Pulitzer Prize for “Beloved” in 1988. In 1993, Morrison became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.