Meet Your MAKERS

February 25, 2013

What will you be watching tomorrow night?  We suggest turning the channel or setting your DVR to record PBS’ new documentary MAKERS: Women Who Make America, which premieres February 26 at 8 p.m. The documentary and accompanying website “tell the story of the women’s movement through the firsthand accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century.”

The interviews are insightful, personal, often funny, and reflect the wide variety of experiences and perspectives relating to feminism, women’s rights, and success. With so many groundbreakers and leaders at both national and community levels, it is not surprising that there are many faces familiar to AAUW among the MAKERS cast.

Four of these amazing MAKERS are former AAUW fellows! More women are added each month, so we expect that number to grow. Though the program only features women from the United States, many women are making progress for women’s rights internationally. Jane Chen is the most recent AAUW fellow to be named a MAKER.  She was a 2007–08 Selected Professions Fellow studying business and public policy in an MBA program at Stanford when she took a class in entrepreneurial design that changed her life. Her class team took on the task of creating a plan to offer low-cost incubators to hospitals and NGOs. In 2008 she became the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Embrace, which brought the incubators to partners in India that same year.

Barbara Smith, image: MAKERS

Barbara Smith, image: MAKERS

Carol Gilligan is also a MAKER and a 1987–88 Career Development Grant recipient. Credited as the founder of “difference feminism” after the publication of her book In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development, Gilligan is a leading psychologist and scholar on women’s development. She also served as a project adviser on AAUW’s 1994 research publication Shortchanging Girls, Shortchanging America about gender bias in America’s schools.

Barbara Smith, 1978–79 American Fellow, is recognized on MAKERS for her role in growing and sustaining black feminism. In 1980 Smith, along with poet Audrey Lourde and playwright Cherríe Moraga, established Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. Smith continues to be an outspoken advocate for a movement that reflects the experience of all women, including women of color, lesbians, and those who are economically oppressed.

Though not on the website (yet), Melissa Harris-Perry, 2001–02 American Fellow and host of the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, is part of the full-length MAKERS documentary.

Reshma Saujani, AAUW woman of distinction and MAKER.

Reshma Saujani, AAUW woman of distinction and MAKER.

The list goes on. Six National Conference for College Women Student Leaders Women of Distinction are also featured on  Reshma Saujani, a 2013 Woman of Distinction and the founder of Girls Who Code, will be speaking at this year’s conference May 30–June 1. Not one but two 2008 Women of Distinction, Majora Carter and Pat Foote, also make the impressive list.  Other past recipients also featured on MAKERS include Eve Ensler (2006), Amy Richards (2004), and Sarah Weddington (1993).

At each national convention, AAUW gives an Achievement Award to a woman who has made a lasting contribution to the empowerment of women and girls. These AAUW-honored MAKERS include Madeleine Albright (2005), Gloria Steinem (2003), and Sandra Day O’Connor (1988). Lilly Ledbetter, a fair pay advocate and friend of AAUW who has not missed a convention since 2009, is also featured.

So Tuesday night tell your friends, bring your daughters (and sons!), and share the triumphs women have achieved for themselves and each other. Or browse the website and be inspired. AAUW has been empowering and celebrating women since 1881, and we are proud to include among our friends many MAKERS who have changed the country.

This post was written by Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

AAUW Intern By:   |   February 25, 2013


  1. Avatar AAUW Staff Only says:

    You can actually watch the entire documentary online! The link is:

    What was something new you learned from the film or website?

    -Emily McGranachan

  2. Avatar Margie Evans says:

    I loved this program and I am especially interested in the views expressed by younger women toward the end of the program. They can be whatever they want to be and hopefully we can continue to press forward so their daughters and granddaughters will be able to say the same thing.

  3. Avatar Kathe Mayer says:

    This was a wonderful program. I hope if you haven’t seen it you try logging into your local PBS station and looking for it in the archives.

  4. Avatar Rochelle Johnson says:

    If you’re on the west coast and get your PBS through DISH, the program could start as early as 5PM.

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