Our members, fellows and award winners pioneer advances for gender equity. Explore how many of us have made our mark — from the past to the present and into the future!
Faces of AAUW
Members of Congress
Rep. Jeannette Rankin
First Woman Elected to Congress (R-MT, 1917-19; 1941-43).
Rep. Shirley Chisholm
First Black woman elected to Congress (D-NY, 1969-83). First Black American to run for president and First woman to run for presidential nomination from a major political party.
Rep. Patsy Mink
Member of Congress (D-HI, 1965-77). Co-author of Title IX.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi
First woman Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (2007-2011; 2017-present). Member of Congress (D-CA. 1993-present).
Rep. Jackie Speier
Member of Congress (D-CA, 2013-present).
Rep. Edith Green
Member of Congress (D-OR, 1955-74). Proposed Equal Pay Act in 1955 (passed in 1963). “Mother” of Title IX.
Supreme Court Justices
Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Supreme Court Justice (2009-present). Received 2017 AAUW Achievement Award.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Supreme Court Justice (1993-present). Received 1999 AAUW Achievement Award.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor
First woman U.S. Supreme Court Justice (1981-2006). Received 1988 AAUW Achievement Award.
Cabinet Secretaries, Government Leaders
Patricia Roberts Harris
First Black woman U.S. Cabinet Secretary—U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (1977-79). Later also Secretary of U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (1979-80). First Black woman U.S. Ambassador (to Luxembourg (1965-67). First woman Dean of Howard University Law School.
First woman Chief of the Cherokee Nation (1985-1995). Received 1993 AAUW Achievement Award.
First woman U.S. Cabinet Secretary (Labor Department, 1933-1945). Architect and implementor of many New Deal initiatives, including the Civilian Conservation Corps, National Labor Relations Act, minimum wage, restrictions on child labor and the Social Security Act.
First woman Attorney General of the United States (1993-2000).
Director-General of the World Trade Organization, first woman Finance Minister of Nigeria, 1977-78 AAUW International Fellow and 2021 AAUW Alumnae Recognition Awardee.
Dixy Lee Ray
First woman Governor of Washington state (1977-81). Fifth woman Governor in United States. Head of Atomic Energy Commission. John Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Award winner for biology. 1967 Seattle Maritime Society Man of the Year.
First Lady of the United States (1933-45). First Chair of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (1947-52). Fist Chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (1961). Started World Center for Women’s Achives project with AAUW member Mary Ritter Beard to “write women back into history.”
Lou Henry Hoover
First Lady of the United States (1929-33). First woman to receive a geology degree from Stanford University. Co-founder and President of the Girl Scouts of America.
Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Johnson
First Lady of the United States (1963-69).
Humanitarians, Legal and Social Pioneers
Author, professor, humanitarian, Oprah’s favorite guest. 2001-02 AAUW International Fellow. Received 2017 AAUW Alumnae Recogition Award.
Nobel Peace Prize winner. Founder of Hull House and social activist.
May Wright Sewall
Chair of the National Women’s Suffrage Association (1882-1890). President of the National Council of Women of the United States (1897-1899). President of the International Council of Women (1899-1904). Educator and activist.
Carrie Chapman Catt
Head of National American Women Suffrage Association. Founder of the League of Women Voters and International Alliance of Women.
Marjorie Child Husted
Businesswoman behind the Betty Crocker cookbook and lifestyle brand. Invented gender bias test for men.
President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Received 1997 AAUW Achievement Award.
Plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court equal pay and employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co and gender equity advocate. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama.
Agnes Ernst Meyer
Journalist and owner of The Washington Post. Civil rights activist and philanthropist.
Julia Montgomery Walsh
First woman registered to trade with the American Stock Exchange (later merged with the New York Stock Exchange).
Hanna Holburn Gray
First woman president of a major U.S. university – University of Chicago (1973-93). 1991 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and received 60 honorary degrees. 1954 AAUW American Fellow. Received 1980 AAUW Achievement Award.
Nell Irvin Painter
Leading U.S. historian and Edwards Professor Emerita of American History at Princeton University. AAUW Coretta Scott King Fellow.
Nannerl O. Keohane
First woman President of Duke University, former President of Wellesley College. 1966-67 AAUW American Fellow.
Award-winning historian of 20th century U.S. history with specialization in African American history, modern African diaspora and gender studies. Associate Professor of History at University of Pittsburgh and President of the African American Intellectual History Society. 2016-17 AAUW American Postdoctoral Fellow.
Sylvia Ardyn Boone
First tenured Black woman Professor at Yale. Art history and African American studies scholar. 1976-77 AAUW American Fellow.
Anne Firor Scott
Author of The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930. Professor at Duke University in women’s history. 1956-57 AAUW Fellow.
Dean of Barnard College. Only woman delegate appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to the United Nations Conference on International Organization (UNCIO) (the San Francisco Conference) that led to the creation of the United Nations. AAUW board member.
First Black woman President of Spelman College. Anthropologist and educator.
Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. She is the founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. Former MSNBC commentator. 2001-02 AAUW American Fellow. Received 2013 AAUW Alumnae Recognition Award.
Pioneers in Physical Sciences and Astronomy
Second woman to travel in space. Died in 1986 Challenger explosion. 1975-76 AAUW American Fellow.
First Black woman to travel in space. Engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. Received 2007 Achievement Award.
Nancy Grace Roman
First NASA Chief Astronomer and “Mother” of the Hubble Telescope.
First full female Professor at Harvard. First Professional Astronomer at Harvard. 1924-25 AAUW International Fellow.
Kimberly Ennico Smith
NASA scientist. NASA New Horizons mission that captured images of Pluto. 1997-98 AAUW American Fellow
NASA Engineer. 2006-07 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow.
First woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences. First woman on faculty and full Professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School. First woman of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. First woman of the American Association of Anatomists. Third woman with statue in the Halls of U.S. Congress. Creator of “Sabin health laws,” public health laws still in use today.
Inventor of infant incubator that costs $25 (vs. $20,000), making them much more affordable and available worldwide. 2007-08 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow.
Dorothy Boulding Ferebee
President of National Council of Negro Women. Alpha Kappa Alpha President and obstetrician.
First woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine for her study of genetic transposition or “jumping genes” in maize. Received 1947 AAUW Achievement Award, with a prize of $2,500, at a time when 95% of available funding was going to men.
Helen Claudia Henry
Polio vaccine team member with Jonas Salk at the Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. 1955-56 AAUW International Fellow.
Florence B. Seibert
Inventor of the test for tuberculosis. National Achievement Award winner, presented by Eleanor Roosevelt. First AAUW Achievement Award winner.
Pioneers in Physical Sciences
First woman to win the Nobel Prize. First person and only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice. AAUW members raised $100,000 to buy a gram of radium for her research.
Ellen Swallow Richards
First woman to earn a chemistry degree. Pioneer in the home economics field. AAUW co-founder.
First woman President of the American Physical Society and physics pioneer. First woman to receive an honorary degree from Princeton and first woman to receive the National Academy of Sciences’ Comstock Prize.
Environmental Sciences and Anthropology
First woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Curator Emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History. Pioneering anthropoligist and activist. Received 1978 AAUW Achievement Award.
Author of award-winning Latinnovating: Green American Jobs and the Latinos Creating Them. U.S. Air Force veteran and Air Medal recipient. Author of the first bilingual children’s book about women serving in the military, Goodnight Captain Mama. White House Champion of Change. 1998-99 AAUW Career Development grantee.
Author of the award-winning book Silent Spring, which was instrumental in documenting the danger of different chemical use on the environment – inspiring generations of environmentalism. Received 1956 AAUW Achievement Award.
Leaders in Mathematics and Engineering
Grace Murray Hooper
Pioneering mathmetician, computer scientist and rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. Instrumental in devising UNIVAC I, the first commercial electronic computer and naval application for common-business-oriented language (COBOL). The Grace Hopper Celebration at AnitaB.org is the largest annual gathering of women technologists. Received 1983 AAUW Achievement Award.
Dorothy Walcot Weeks
First woman to earn Ph.D in mathematics at MIT (1930).
Lillian Moller Gilbreth
First woman member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1926) and the first industrial organizational psychologist.