From A to Z: 26 Women Who Are Breaking Barriers

todayMarch 8, 2020 48

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By Brittany Anderson
Assistant Web Content Manager

It’s no secret: women are badass. Trailblazers. Shatterers of glass ceilings. Agents of change. From A to Z, here are 26 women who have risen to the top of their fields to inspire, encourage, entertain and teach us. 

Astronaut: Christina Koch

In 2013, Christina Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA and seemed destined to accomplish great things. On Feb. 6, 2020, Koch completed her 328-day, 139-million miles long journey in space— the longest spaceflight ever conducted by a woman. 

Broadway actress: Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald has performed in Broadway shows such as “Ragtime” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” more than proving that her talent is worthy enough to garner her six Tony Awards— the most performance wins by any actor, and the only person in Broadway history to win awards in all four acting categories. 

Chef: Claire Saffitz

Hey, pastry chefs are chefs, too. Claire Saffitz, one of Bon Appétit’s beloved pastry chefs, is the face of the wildly popular Gourmet Makes series on the BA YouTube channel. From the test kitchen, Saffitz cleverly (and patiently) works to recreate our favorite snacks and junk food from scratch. Bon Appétit’s video content has made chefs like Saffitz synonymous with the brand— see for yourself why she deserves all the praise she gets.

Designer: Stella McCartney

Yes, people, she’s so much more than Paul McCartney’s daughter. Stella McCartney has made a name for herself with her self-titled luxury designer brand that is one of the few to have set the sustainability bar high. Their socially-conscious efforts towards lowering their environmental footprint has resulted in seeking out alternative materials, utilizing cutting-edge technologies, regularly conducting audits and actively measuring their impact.  

Environmentalist: Vandana Shiva

TIME Magazine once called Vandana Shiva an “environmental hero,” and for good reason. She’s an activist, physicist, author and the founder of Navdanya, an India-based organization that promotes biodiversity conservation, organic farming, farmers rights and seed saving. Her work is an essential component in the fight against climate change. 

Fashion model: Ashley Graham

Ashley Graham has become one of the most famous plus-sized models of the 21st century. She gracefully aims to empower women of all shapes and sizes by promoting body positivity and has made great strides in advancing body diversity on the runway— a place that, historically, hasn’t been so accepting. 

Gymnast: Simone Biles

Standing just 4’8” at 22 years old, Simone Biles proves that age (and height) is nothing but a number: with 30 Olympic and World Championship medals, she’s the most decorated American gymnast and the world’s third most decorated gymnast.

Hairdresser: Sofie Pok

For the past decade, LA-based barber Sofie Pok has taken over this male-dominated hair industry with her own grit and flair, securing herself influencer status and multiple awards in the process. 

Instagram artist: Sara Shakeel

Let me clarify what I mean by “Instagram artist.” Sara Shakeel is a Pakistani dentist-turned-artist who has gained a large following on Instagram— almost 1 million strong, in fact— from her images of stretch marks and scars that she Photoshops glitter and Swarovski crystals over. She humanizes and beautifies what many of us see as imperfections. From Shakeel’s own Instagram bio, “Each picture heals a part of me and I hope it heals a part of you too.” 

Journalist: Christiane Amanpour

Christiane Amanpour: fearless, persistent and truth-seeker are just a few words that come to mind. This British-Iranian journalist has maintained her cool while reporting from high-conflict areas, met with prominent world leaders for exclusive interviews, and continues to serve as an ethical source of knowledge for both journalists and citizens alike.


Here at KTSW, there are tons of awesome women on staff, and half of our executive positions are held by women, too. Our current lineup consists of Chelyse Prevost, Web Development Director; Iliana Ramirez, Office and Traffic Manager; Katharine Robertson, Music Director; Lauren Jurgemeyer, Web Content Manager; Madalyn White, Program Director; Marie Drosche, Community Relations Director and Promotions Director; and Sam Searles, Social Media Administrator.

Lawyer: Jaribu Hill

Solemnly inspired by the #MeToo movement that exploded in 2017, 70-year-old Jaribu Hill— a singer, actress, teacher and labor organizer turned lawyer— joined a nationwide network of attorneys in the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund that help underprivileged women pursue their sexual misconduct cases. Hill herself has built civil rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights movements out of Mississippi since the 90s. 

Makeup artist: Pat McGrath

Pat McGrath has been named one of the most influential makeup artists in the world. Her intricately mesmerizing cosmetics line Pat McGrath Labs is only a few years old, but is already renowned for its quality and brand inclusivity.

Neurologist: May Britt-Moser

Also known as the “queen of neuroscience,” May Britt-Moser has done outstanding work within the field of neurology and accepted a Nobel Prize in physiology in 2014, where she was the only woman to win in the sciences that year. 

OB/GYN: Dr. Staci Tanouye

Dr. Staci Tanouye is just one of the many MD’s that are taking TikTok by a storm. Dr. Tanouye combats the spread of misinformation about, and the stigma surrounding, sex education and women’s health. In today’s chaotic internet landscape, Tanouye is making huge strides towards positively impacting our younger generations with a unique and reliable medical perspective. 

Photographer: Annie Leibovitz

Annie Leibovitz is primarily known for her intimate portraits of celebrities— she was even the last person to photograph John Lennon before he died five hours later. In 1991, she became the first woman to hold an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. For over 40 years, Leibovitz has perfected her craft with her own artistic spin, and it’s made her one of the best. 

Quartermaster: Gwen Bingham

Although she has since retired, Lieutenant Gwen Bingham was the first female officer to hold the position of the 51st Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army and Commandant of the U.S. Army Quartermaster School in Fort Lee, Va. 

Royal: Meghan Markle

Okay, so technically, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex is stepping down from her royal duties alongside Prince Harry. But she’s still part of the Royal family— and in the few short years she’s been a part of it all, she’s brought about a new air of class, diversity and modernity to an otherwise aged system. 

Software engineer: Tracy Chou

At just 33 years old, Tracy Chou has worked as a software engineer for Pinterest, Quora and interned at Google and Facebook. She’s also an outspoken advocate for diversity within her field. In 2016, she co-founded Project Include with seven other women. Their mission? Give everyone a fair chance to succeed within the tech industry by accelerating diversity and inclusion solutions.

Traveler: Jo Franco

Writer. Blogger. Vlogger. As one-half of Shut Up and Go duo Damon and Jo, Jo Franco uses her experience, expertise and contagious energy to inspire thousands with the message that it doesn’t matter if you’re a young black woman like her— you deserve to see the world, and you can. 

University professor: Sangeeta N. Bhatia

Sangeeta Bhatia is a professor at MIT, as well as a biotech entrepreneur who works to adapt technologies for medical innovation. Bhatia is a groundbreaking advocate for women in STEM: she was named one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35 in 2003, and a “Scientist to Watch” a few years later. 

Video game designer: Brenda Romero

Surprise, women like video games— and they make them, too. Starting out at the mere age of 15, Brenda Romero has been in the gaming industry for nearly 40 years and is considered to be the woman with the longest continuous service in game development. To no surprise, she’s also been named one of the most influential women in the industry. 

Writer: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie is a prominent Nigerian writer who focuses on intersectional feminism and how it can bring out underrepresented voices through stories. Her viewpoint and approach to feminism within her work is compelling as it is crucial. 

X-Rayer: Dr. Lucy B. Spalluto

The technical term is radiologist, but Dr. Spalluto specializes in women’s imaging— aka, x-rays. She’s president of the American Association of Women in Radiology and holds a grant from the American Medical Association for Female Faculty Development in Radiology.

YouTuber: Jenna Marbles

Welcome to the 21st century, where being a YouTuber is most definitely considered a job. Jenna Marbles has long been a staple in the YouTube community— for an entire decade, actually. Some 20 million subscribers and 3.4 billion views later, Marbles was arguably one of the first female internet pioneers that made “YouTubers” what they are today. 

Zoologist: Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin is the wife of the late Steve Irwin, aka Crocodile Hunter. Terri owns the Australia Zoo and she, along with her daughter Bindi and son Robert, work to continue Steve’s legacy as wildlife conservationists. 

There are billions of women on this planet worth mentioning. They might have lived hundreds of years ago, have yet to live for hundreds of more years, or are here with us now— but one thing for certain is that we are all the better for knowing them, watching them and being them. Happy International Women’s Day! 

Featured image by Brittany Anderson.

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8 Female Directors to Watch Right Now

By Arlett RamirezAssistant Web Content Manager For this International Women’s Day, I’d like to take a minute to recognize all the important and talented female directors who have graced us with emotional, dramatic, action-packed, funny, heart wrenching and heartwarming films over the years. Since the Academy Awards likes to repeatedly not mention female directors.  The 2020 Academy Awards were criticized for not having any female director nominees in the Best […]

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