Freedom of Thought

8 Women Who Changed Amer⁠i⁠ca for ⁠t⁠he be⁠t⁠⁠t⁠er

March 8, 2023

Freedom of Thought

March 8, 2023

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it’s a good time to take a moment and think about the incredible women who have – and continue to – make an impact on our world. Here are eight women who connect us, and make us think.

1. Abigail Adams
In March of 1776, John Adams was meeting with the Continental Congress to begin the process of creating our new nation – independent from England. His wife Abigail wrote to him, saying “Remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

It took time for women to have equality under the law in America, but Abigail was one of the first to speak up for their rights.

2. Virginia Walden Ford
Ford and her twin sister Harrietta were among the first 130 students chosen to desegregate the high schools in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1960s. Ford is passionate about education. In fact, both her parents were public school teachers. Today, Ford has become a major school choice advocate, passionate about innovation in education and empowering parents with children in the education system.

She was the inspiration for the film Miss Virginia, which tells the story of how she got involved in the fight for educational equality.

We’re proud to have her on the Our America board of advisors!

3. Rita Moreno
Talent cannot be denied, and Rita Moreno has it in spades. So much so that she attained one of the most prized accomplishments in entertainment – the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony). When she won an Emmy for her work on The Muppet Show, she became the third person ever to clinch that elite status – and the first Hispanic American to do so.

She proved that hard work and talent can take you to the top in America!

4. Christina Hoff Sommers
Sommers is a scholar focused on the politics of gender and feminism. She has spoken and written extensively in defense of classical liberal feminism, which focuses on equality, friendship and respect between the sexes.

5. Katherine Johnson
Katherine Johnson didn’t just break barriers for women in STEM, she also broke barriers for Black people in STEM. That can be hard enough to do today, but Johnson did it 50 years ago!

She went to work for NASA and was one of the key minds that worked in Flight Research. It was said that astronaut John Glenn asked for her to check the computer’s math before he felt confident about taking off for space.

Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and her work was commemorated in the film Hidden Figures.

6. Bari Weiss
Weiss runs a media company, The Free Press, which is “built on the ideals that once were the bedrock of great journalism: honesty, doggedness and fierce independence.” Those adjectives can also be applied to the company’s founder.

She advocates for women to feel empowered and not feel like victims. She’s an advocate for free speech and is not afraid to call out those who are supposed to protect women from doing just the opposite.

7. Dr. Antonia Novella
When President George H. W. Bush named Dr. Antonia Novella as U.S. Surgeon General, she became the first woman and the first Hispanic person to hold that role. She has been at the forefront of several major public health campaigns to improve health and access to medical care – focusing especially on women, children and minorities. 

We honor her dedication to supporting communities through public health.

8. Representative Jeannette Rankin
first woman to hold federal office in the United States. She was elected to Congress in 1916, meaning she was elected before the 19th Amendment secured the right for all American women to vote. She paved the way for so many other women to take on new challenges and change the idea of “women’s work.”

There have been so many women who have worked for mutual respect between the sexes. They understood that it is only by understanding each other that we can be truly equal.