Faces of AAUW

AAUW Trailblazers

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!

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.

RBG

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.

Wilma Mankiller

First woman Chief of the Cherokee Nation (1985-1995). Received 1993 AAUW Achievement Award.

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Frances Perkins

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.

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Janet Reno

First woman Attorney General of the United States (1993-2000).

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

First woman Finance Minister of Nigeria. 1977-78 AAUW International Fellow.

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 Ladies

Eleanor Roosevelt

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.”

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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

2017 AAUW Alumnae Recognition Awardee Tererai Trent, Ph.D.

Tererai Trent

Author, professor, humanitarian, Oprah’s favorite guest. 2001-02 AAUW International Fellow. Received 2017 AAUW Alumnae Recogition Award.

Jane Addams

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.

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Antonia Hernandez

President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Received 1997 AAUW Achievement Award.

Photo of Lily Ledbetter in front of AAUW logo backdrop

Lilly Ledbetter

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.

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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).

Academic Leaders

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.

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Nannerl O. Keohane

First woman President of Duke University, former President of Wellesley College. 1966-67 AAUW American Fellow.

Keisha Blain

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.

Virginia Gildersleeve

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.

Johnnetta Cole

First Black woman President of Spelman College. Anthropologist and educator.

Head shot of 2013 AAUW Alumnae Recognition Awardee Melissa Harris-Perry

Melissa Harris-Perry

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

Judith Resnick

Second woman to travel in space. Died in 1986 Challenger explosion. 1975-76 AAUW American Fellow.

Mae Jemison

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.

Nancy Grace Roman: The Life and Legacy of a NASA Star

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

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

Jessica Marquez

NASA Engineer. 2006-07 AAUW Selected Professions Fellow.

Biomedical Pioneers

Florence Sabin

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.

Jane Chen

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.

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Barbara McClintock

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 Jonah Salk at the Virus Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburg. 1955-56 AAUW International Fellow.

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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

Marie Curie's 1903 Nobel portrait

Marie Curie

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.

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Ellen Swallow Richards

First woman to earn a chemistry degree. Pioneer in the home economics field. AAUW co-founder.

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Chien-Shiung Wu

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.

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Environmental Sciences and Anthropology

Margaret Mead

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.

Graciela Tiscareno-Sato

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.

Rachel Carson

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.

Faces of AAUW

A gallery of a range of members, Achievement Awardees and Fellow Alumnae.

Years of Achievement Awardees and Fellow Alumnaes awards or grants are noted.