We Asked, You Answered: Which Women Are Making History Now?

March 27, 2012

In honor of Women’s History Month, we’ve been talking about women who are missing from the history books — women like Claudette Colvin, who refused to give up her seat on the bus months before Rosa Parks’ famous protest.

As March draws to a close, let’s talk about the women who are writing their own chapters in history right now. Without further ado, here is a selection of the women you nominated as today’s change makers.


These women have dedicated their lives to making a difference, and their work is changing the world as we know it.

Sandra Fluke — What started as a snub by a congressional committee chair has turned into an all-out barrage against a woman who just wanted to testify about the importance of accessible contraception. We’re very proud to know Fluke, and we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Angela Davis In the 1960s, Davis emerged as a prominent social activist when she was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list and jailed for suspected involvement in an abduction and murder case. She was eventually acquitted of all charges, but she often draws upon her experiences when she writes and lectures about the social injustices embedded in the U.S. prison system.

Judith Plaskow — Plaskow was the first Jewish feminist to identify herself as a theologian. Her work has influenced Jewish religious conversations, as well as the feminist theologies of other religions. She has also supported the next generation of women scholars as a selection panelist for AAUW’s American Fellowship program.


These women are breaking through barriers by becoming the first women to hold such high positions and by changing the way governments address both women leaders and women’s issues.

Hillary Clinton — Clinton faced an onslaught of media attention as a presidential hopeful in 2008. She ultimately conceded her party’s nomination to Barack Obama, but she’s made her mark with poise and leadership as the U.S. secretary of state.

Johanna Sigurdardottir — As Iceland’s first woman prime minister and the world’s first openly gay head of state, Sigurdardottir is a feminist force who is working to make her country “female friendly.”

Nancy Pelosi — After serving as the first woman speaker of the House during the 111th Congress, Pelosi is credited for leading one of the “most productive sessions of Congress.” Now that congressional job approval ratings are so low, it’s hard to believe that her term was only two years ago.


Watch out, world. These ladies are leading their industries and show no signs of slowing down.

Annie Leibovitz — A world-famous portrait photographer, Leibovitz has captured the essence of many famous people, both alive and dead. One notable photograph is her 1991 Vanity Fair cover of the nude and pregnant Demi Moore, which challenged perceptions of beauty and pregnancy.

Christine Lagarde — The first woman managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Lagarde inherited an institution in crisis and was responsible for overseeing multi-billion euro bailouts of several countries. In 2011, Forbes ranked her 39th on its list of the world’s most powerful people.

Jane Goodall — Goodall’s research on chimpanzees has fundamentally changed scientific thinking about the relationship between humans and other mammals. She founded the Jane Goodall Institute to inspire action on behalf of endangered species and environments.


Using their fame and fortune to make a difference, these women entertainers have brought unprecedented attention to their causes.

Lady Gaga — Outrageous antics make singer Lady Gaga stand out, but her identity as a one-time victim of bullying has made her an icon for the “disaffected, discriminated, and downtrodden.” The Born This Way Foundation, which she founded with her mother, empowers youth to accept who they are and to stand up for themselves.

Angelina Jolie — A wild child turned devoted humanitarian, Jolie is a U.N. peace ambassador and a spokeswoman for global aid and starvation. She founded the Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation in 2003 as part of her mission to eradicate poverty and promote sustainability around the world.

Thanks to everyone who took part in our women’s history polls. After reading our list, who else do you expect our great-great grandchildren to be talking about in their history classes? Tell us in the comments section. And thank you for celebrating Women’s History Month with us!

This post was written by AAUW Marketing and Communications Intern Marie Lindberg.

Marie Lindberg By:   |   March 27, 2012


  1. microcosm8 says:

    Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales)-Domestic Violence & Human Rights: Lenahan v. USA

    The decision underscores that the U.S. is failing in its legal obligation to protect women and girls from domestic violence. Jessica went to the police and they ignored her. Her three daughters were murdered by their father. She took the matter all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. They determined that she did not have the right to police protection. She took it to the Inter-American Court and won.

  2. leslie mcneill says:

    If I were not scheduled to Co-President of my Branch next year, I would resign! Pearl Buck and Julia Morgan were nominated and you chose Sandra Fluke, Lady Gaga instead! Tell me I am reading the wrong blog….

  3. Nancy Dietrich says:

    For media: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now does exceptional investigative reporting.

    Also, Geena Davis for her role in pointing out sexism in TV shows & movies, especially children’s programming.

  4. Kay N. Koehler says:

    For starters, Pearl Buck is long dead….she belongs on a list of past achievers, not the ones coming on now! I kind of wondered about Gaga, too. Jolie is an excellent choice. She is visible to YOUNG women and is really trying to make a difference. But I would have included (I don’t remember receiving the initial questionnaire) both Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, and Olympia Snowe for making a statement by her departure from the Senate.

  5. Marie says:

    Thank you for all the additions to my list! I wish I could have included so many more women, so it’s great to have you all adding more in your comments! Leslie, I’m sorry if I offended, but as Kay indicated this blog was featuring a few of the impressive living ladies making history today.

    I wanted to add an extra note about Lady Gaga since you’ve voiced doubts. She’s become a face of the revolution against bullying, particularly on behalf of victims. Here’s a video that shows a little bit more about this: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/lady-gaga-takes-anti-bullying-white-house-15100813

    Thanks again for all the comments!

  6. Michele Guttenberger says:

    I think it is time to conduct a new poll for 2015. Would the same names be on the list? Would there be new additions? What new political leaders are Millennials following? Would it still be Nancy Pelosi or Hilary Clinton in today’s straw poll with a new generation of voters. With a congressional job approval rating so low on both parties, now would be the time to spotlight promising new hopefuls.

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