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Art, photographs, stories, and biographies of women who are awesome in one way or another. - Awesome Women (@awesome-women)
Shenative is a socially driven handbag @awesome-women

SheNative is a socially driven handbag & accessories company dedicated to empowering Indigenous women, positively impacting the way they are represented in the media, and changing how they are perceived by the rest of the world.

Devon Fiddler, Founder & Chief Changemaker of SheNative is an Indigenous woman of the Waterhen Lake First Nation in Saskatchewan, Canada. She founded SheNative with a mission to inspire Native Women and girls to see themselves differently.

“I grew up a shy, timid Native girl, not having the best childhood experience with so much external negativity due to who I was, right down to the colour of my skin. I’ve since realized that I didn’t have to be who I was expected to be, and I could be whoever I wanted! So, I did it!”

Devon recognized a common problem based on her own personal experiences and those of her friends, family and other Native women around her. She recognized the need for change, and started looking for a way to help other woman and girls, to tell them that it’s okay to be amazing and pursue their passions. And so, SheNative was born. Devon recognized that changing the way Native women perceive themselves will start a chain reaction of empowerment, encouraging these women to provoke a positive change in public perceptions.

SheNative is currently at $9,700 (65% of their $15,000 goal) with 7 days left in the campaign. Jump on board now and help them make it!

Reclaimingthelatinatag ruth ocumárez is @awesome-women


Ruth Ocumárez  is Dominican former beauty queen, actress and model. Born and raised in Santo Domingo, Ocumárez became a celebrity in her nation by becoming the first woman of predominantly African heritage to represent the Dominican Republic in the Miss Universe pageant

Albinwonderland smalllindsay click here to @awesome-women




I am incredibly proud to present a project that I worked very hard on that has finally premiered on the internet! Over a year ago, back when I still worked at Hero4Hire Animation as the art director/lead design, I was given the reigns to direct a big project for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media. Its a wonderful foundation that fights for the interest of one of the things very closest to my heart; that being the portrayal of girls and women in animated media, as well as for equality of roles for women working within animation. Things are slowly changing (Rebecca Sugar being the first women to get her own show on CN!!!), but animation is still largely dominated by men, especially in roles of power like direction and creators. This is often reflected in the female characters that arise from this disparity, that can often be cookie cut outs, token in nature, or at worst just there for the pure reason of sassy eye candy. That’s not to say there aren’t great female characters in media, but the numbers are actually quite staggering. Even being really in tune with the issue myself I was blown clear away by the actual numbers when I attended the institutes conference in NYC last year. I’d recommend taking a look at the research found here, as it’s really eye opening.

So I got to meet Geena Davis. I’d never met a celebrity before, let alone sat down with one over tea to show her my drawings and pitch book for the short I had made for her foundation. It was a little nerve wracking as I sat there in the small NYC cafe waiting for her arrival, only made more so when she walked in and was the tallest person ever. Let me describe to you the inner monologue of someone who has a stunningly beautiful, 20 foot tall movie star walking at them:


Needless to say Geena is a rad lady and super nice. Also I managed to not make any “There’s no crying in baseball” jokes despite how my terrible brain kept a constant feed of them supplied to me throughout our ensuing conversation.

The project went through a few stages before the finished product. Initially it was drafted to be a more story based short. I’d written a 14 page script which even still I think is pretty funny/informative, about traveling through the various animated stereotypes of girls (and boys too!). Maybe someday that will see the light of day, but it ended up a studio decision in interest of time/funds to go with a more infographic style short piece instead. Which is fine, because flat art is my bread and butter baby. Aw yiss gimmie dat illustrator program.

Anyway before I get too far off and write a novel, I am super proud to present this piece for the foundation and It was a joy to work on, and a privledge to be given a writing, directing, and design position on it given the content. I am flattered that Hero4Hire and Geena put that much salt in me.

This project, of course, would be nothing without the others who made it possible. Adrian Garcia, whom I worked with on storyboards, also made the animatics and did most of the effects animation you see here that makes everything look so 3-D and beautiful. He’s such a pro. Dan Flynn and Mike Nordstrom who did all the beautiful character animation. Evan Sussman who did all the post work that really made this thing look special. And Mari Kidder! My super sweet intern turned junior design assistant who is going to graduate college this year! She came in for a week long whirlwind and saved our butts for which I will be forever grateful, haha. Oh man we would have died without her help aaa aaaa.

But I digress, This project was my baby. I would be honored if everyone took a peek at our little film, and even more honored if it helped people think a little harder about the issues it brings to the spotlight.

Thank you!

Linds, your animation was incredible. So incredible, it brought me to tears. I’m so proud of you, and this project seems so positive and amazing. 

Sacheen littlefeather is a native american woman @awesome-women

Sacheen Littlefeather is a Native American woman who is a civil rights activist. She is known for dressing in Apache dress and presented a speech on behalf of actor Marlon Brando, for his performance in The Godfather, when he boycotted the 45th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27, 1973, in protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.

Littlefeather’s heritage includes Apache, Yaqui, Pueblo, and European ancestry. On her official website, she states her father was from the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes from Arizona and that “Cruz” is her father’s recognized tribe name. A member of Indians of All Tribes, Littlefeather had participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island by American Indians’ rights activists in 1969.

She represented Brando and his boycott of the Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather as a way to protest the ongoing siege at Wounded Knee, and Hollywood’s and television’s misrepresentation of American Indians. Brando had written a 15-page speech for Littlefeather to give at the ceremony, but when the producer met her backstage he threatened to physically remove her or have her arrested if she spoke on stage for more than 60 seconds. Her on-stage comments were therefore improvised. She then went backstage and read the entire speech to the press.

Rosemarie reed is an award winning producer of @awesome-women

Rosemarie Reed is an award-winning producer of documentary films. And she travels the world. When she is not in New York or Berlin, the two places she likes to call home, she can be found in Paris, London, Moscow, or Sydney in pursuit of her films. Most of her work portrays women in science, politics, history and the arts, some famous, some forgotten. Her goal is to document the achievements, plights, and legacies of women often invisible to the larger world.

Rear admiral grace murray hopper december 9 @awesome-women

Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy officer. A pioneer in the field, she was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer, and developed the first compiler for a computer programming language. She conceptualized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first modern programming languages. She is credited with popularizing the term “debugging” for fixing computer glitches (motivated by an actual moth removed from the computer). Owing to the breadth of her accomplishments and her naval rank, she is sometimes referred to as “Amazing Grace.” The U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as was the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at NERSC.

Hopper graduated first in her class in 1944, and was assigned to the Bureau of Ships Computation Project at Harvard University as a lieutenant, junior grade. She served on the Mark I computer programming staff headed by Howard H. Aiken. Hopper and Aiken coauthored three papers on the Mark I, also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator. Hopper’s request to transfer to the regular Navy at the end of the war was declined due to her age (38). She continued to serve in the Navy Reserve. Hopper remained at the Harvard Computation Lab until 1949, turning down a full professorship at Vassar in favor of working as a research fellow under a Navy contract at Harvard.

In 1952 she had an operational compiler. “Nobody believed that,” she said. “I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it. They told me computers could only do arithmetic.”

In 1954 Hopper was named the company’s first director of automatic programming, and her department released some of the first compiler-based programming languages, including ARITH-MATIC, MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC.

In the spring of 1959 a two day conference known as the CODASYL brought together computer experts from industry and government. Hopper served as the technical consultant to the committee, and many of her former employees served on the short-term committee that defined the new language COBOL. The new language extended Hopper’s FLOW-MATIC language with some ideas from the IBM equivalent, COMTRAN. Hopper’s belief that programs should be written in a language that was close to English rather than in machine code or languages close to machine code (such as assembly language) was captured in the new business language, and COBOL would go on to be the most ubiquitous business language to date.

“The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, “Do you think we can do this?” I say, “Try it.” And I back ‘em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ‘em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

Bearer of the pioneer award from the electronic @awesome-women

Bearer of the Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association of Women in Computing, Anita Borg is undoubtedly the computer scientist who contributed the most to the cause of introduction of women to the field of computer technologies. Highly respected as a professional, she makes her greatest mark as a mentor of young women in a career that has traditionally been considered a man’s field.

In 1987, after attending a technical conference where she was one of a handful of women scientists present, Dr. Borg starts Systers, an electronic mailing list exclusively for female engineers on subjects related to technology. Since then her passion to study computers transforms into an aspiration for using computers to link people. The Systers list grows to include more than 2,500 women in 38 different countries. It is run by Anita herself until 2000.

In 1994, Borg co-founds the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women, a technical conference held every two years that focuses on the career and research interests of women in information and computer sciences.

Anita leaves Digital Equipment’s Western Research Laboratory in 1997 and joins the Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center. Soon after starting her new job, she founds the Institute for Women and Technology (I.W.T.), a nonprofit organization which main goal is to encourage young women to enter the technology industry. In 2003, after Dr. Borg dies, the institute’s name is changed into The Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology. The organization is highly supported by major companies in the computer branch. It receives $150,000 in funding from Sun Microsystems and Xerox, as well as resources and personnel from Lotus Software (now a division of IBM), Carnegie Mellon University, and Boston University.

Since its foundation, the ABI has continued to grow each year. In 2007 it more than doubled the number of its sponsors to 14 and its programs reached women its 23 countries worldwide.

In her professional career as a computer scientist and as a mentor of young women in technology, Dr. Borg receives many awards, including Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award and the Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association of Women in Computing. In 1998, she is inducted into the Hall of Fame of Women in Technology International. In 1999, US President Bill Clinton appoints her to the Presidential Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology; she is charged with recommending strategies to the nation for increasing the breadth of participation fields for women. In 2002, Anita is awarded the 8th Annual Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment.

Anita Borg dies of brain cancer in 2003. To honor her contribution to the integration of women in the field of computer and information technology, in 2004, Google establishes the Google Anita Borg Scholarship, through which they hope to continue her mission to encourage women to excel in computing and technology and become active leaders in the branch.

“Women will change the corporation more than we expect.”

“I want all of these folks connected. We’re all doing too much reinventing of the wheel, … The Internet enables us to share the ideas we have without having to create another hierarchy. We hope that these two projects will come together and create a structure of continued involvement.”

Rachel fuller brown november 23 1898 january @awesome-women

Rachel Fuller Brown (November 23, 1898 – January 14, 1980) was a chemist best known for her long-distance collaboration with microbiologist Elizabeth Lee Hazen in developing the first useful antifungal antibiotic, Nystatin, while doing research for the Division of Laboratories and Research of the New York State Department of Health. She was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994.

Nystatin, still produced today under various trade names, not only cures a variety of potentially devastating fungal infections, but has also been used to combat Dutch Elm disease in trees and to restore artwork damaged by water and mold.

Penicillin had been discovered in 1928, and in the years that followed, antibiotics were increasingly used to fight bacterial illness. However, one side effect was that these antibiotics allowed for a rapid growth of fungus, which could lead to sore mouths or upset stomachs. Other fungal diseases without cures including infections attacking the central nervous system, athlete’s foot, and ring worms were also a major problem during this time. However, fungal diseases were not well understood at this time, and there were no antifungal medications safe for human use. At this time, people knew of microorganisms called actinomycetes that lived in soil and were known to produce antibiotics, some of which killed fungus. However, these antibiotics also proved fatal in tests involving lab mice and thus could not be put into production.

In her New York City laboratory, Hazen cultured organisms found in soil samples and tested their ability to fight against two fungi: Cryptococcus neoformans, a fungus responsible for the chronic disease cryptococcosis, which affects lungs, skin, and other body parts like the central nervous system, and Candida albicans, which causes candidiasis, which can be minor in some cases (e.g. a vaginal yeast infection), or a serious infection in patients treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics. If she found such promising antifungal activity in a particular culture, she would mail it to Brown in a mason jar.

At her end, Brown isolated the active agent in the culture, or the ingredient in the soil sample that could potentially be used to cure these fungal diseases. This required meticulous labor as well as a great deal of patience and paintstaking attention to detail. After isolating the active ingredient, Brown would return the sample to Hazen in New York, where it was retested against the two fungi. If effective, the toxicity was then evaluated in animals.

Nystatin was also the first antifungal antibiotic to be safe and effective in treating human diseases. Not only did it cure many serious fungal infections of the skin, mouth, throat, and intestinal tract, but it could also be combined with antibacterial drugs to balance their side effects.

Royalties for Nystatin totaled $13.4 million. As Brown and Hazen did not want any of the money for themselves, the philanthropic Research Corporation used half for grants to further scientific research and the other half to support what became known as the Brown-Hazen Fund.

Both Brown and Hazen received many awards for their collaborative work, the first major prize being the Quibb Award in Chemotherapy in 1955. Brown was also elected fellow of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1957. On Brown’s retirement in 1968, she received the Distinguished Service Award of the New York Department of Health. In 1972, she was also given the Rhoda Benham Award of the Medical Mycological Society of the Americas. Brown and Hazen were the first women ever to receive, in 1975, the American Institute of Chemists’ Chemical Pioneer Award.

Gertrude belle elion january 23 1918 february @awesome-women

Gertrude Belle Elion (January 23, 1918 – February 21, 1999)[1] was an American biochemist and pharmacologist, and a 1988 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Working alone as well as with George H. Hitchings, Elion developed a multitude of new drugs, using innovative research methods that would later lead to the development of the AIDS drug AZT.[2]

Rather than relying on trial-and-error, Elion and Hitchings used the differences in biochemistry between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents) to design drugs that could kill or inhibit the reproduction of particular pathogens without harming the host cells.

Elion’s inventions include:

In 1988 Elion received the Nobel Prize in Medicine, together with Hitchings and Sir James Black. Other awards include the National Medal of Science (1991)[5] and the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award (1997). In 1991 she became the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.[6]

In Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation, there is a chapter devoted to her.

“I had no specific bent toward science until my grandfather died of cancer. I decided nobody should suffer that much.”

“The idea was to do research, find new avenues to conquer, new mountains to climb.”

Stephanie louise kwolek born july 31 1923 is an @awesome-women

Stephanie Louise Kwolek (born July 31, 1923) is an American chemist of Polish descent who invented poly-paraphenylene terephtalamide—better known as Kevlar. She was born in the Pittsburgh suburb of New Kensington, Pennsylvania. Kwolek has won numerous awards for her work in polymer chemistry.

Kwolek was born in New Kensington, Pennsylvania, in 1923. Her father, John Kwolek, died when she was ten years old. Kwolek attributes her interest in science to him and an interest in fashion to her mother, Nellie Zajdel Kwolek. In 1946, Kwolek earned a degree in Chemistry from Margaret Morrison Carnegie College of Carnegie Mellon University. Kwolek had planned on becoming a doctor and hoped that she could earn enough money from a temporary job in a chemistry-related field to go to medical school.

While working for DuPont, Kwolek invented Kevlar. In 1964, in anticipation of a gasoline shortage, her group began searching for a lightweight yet strong fiber to be used in tires. The polymers she had been working with at the time formed liquid crystal while in solution, something unique to those polymers at the time. The solution was “cloudy, opalescent upon being stirred, and of low viscosity” and usually was thrown away. However, Kwolek persuaded technician Charles Smullen, who ran the spinneret, to test her solution. She was amazed to find that the new fiber would not break when nylon typically would. Both her supervisor and the laboratory director understood the significance of her discovery and a new field of polymer chemistry quickly arose. By 1971, modern Kevlar was introduced.

In 1986, Kwolek retired as a research associate for DuPont. However, she still consults for DuPont, and also serves on both the National Research Council and the National Academy of Sciences. During her 40 years as a research scientist, she filed and received either 17 or 28 patents. In 1995, she became the fourth woman to be added to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. In 1996, she received the National Medal of Technology, and in 2003, she was added to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She received the 1997 Perkin Medal from the American Chemical Society, and a 1980 award from the ACS for “Creative Invention”.

Dorothy dietrich is an american stage magician and @awesome-women

Dorothy Dietrich is an American stage magician and escapologist, and the first and only woman to have performed the bullet catch in her mouth. She was also the first woman to perform a straitjacket escape while suspended hundreds of feet in the air from a burning rope. She is the first woman to gain prominence as a female escape artist since the days of Houdini, breaking the glass ceiling for women in the field of escapes. She has been named as one of the top four escape artists in history. Early on as a teenager she already was dubbed as “The First Lady of Magic.” Dietrich, often called the female Houdini, has duplicated many of Houdini’s original escapes, and has gone one step further by doing the Jinxed Bullet Catch Stunt — the one that Houdini backed away from.

She developed what is known as a flash act that included doves, a rabbit, a duck and two poodles. Early on she was considered a “leading dove worker”. She also developed several routines few women had ever attempted. Sawing men in half, escaping from a straitjacket, sleight of hand with coins via the Misers Dream, The Bullet Catch, and levitating audience members. It was her goal to level the playing field between men and women in the field of magic. Until she broke these barriers women were not allowed full membership in such organizations as The Society of American Magicians and London’s Magic Circle, which early on she tried to join. She has pioneered and paved the way for women in the field today.

Dietrich also crusades against those who falsely claim to speak to dead relatives of vulnerable grieving citizens. Early on, Dietrich realized that there were those who would use magic and various deceptive arts to manipulate and even cheat people out of money. So following in the footsteps of famous debunkers who came before her such as Houdini, Milbourne Christopher and James Randi, she takes on such a role where possible.

On September 27, 2011 a group she formed, that came to be known in the media as The Houdini Commandos, secretly replaced the statuary bust at Houdini’s grave site that had been missing due to vandalism for 36 years. Her world famous attraction Scranton’s Houdini Museum that she runs with mystery entertainer Dick Brooks has been asked by both the family of Houdini and the management of the cemetery to take over the upkeep of the grave that has been in disarray for many years due to neglect.

With more than 30 years of assisting non profit @awesome-women

With more than 30 years of assisting non-profit organizations, and a wide-ranging business and government career, Jocelyne Côté-O’Hara is applying her wealth of experience to Ryerson’s Board of Governors. Côté-O’Hara has been a senior executive in the telecom and IT fields for more than two decades. She is a corporate director at MTS Allstream, Xerox Canada and BEST Venture Funds, vice-chair of the UBC-based Network Centre of Excellence in Mathematics and a governor of the Commonwealth Games of Canada.

Earlier in her career, Côté-O’Hara held senior positions with various federal departments, including an executive assignment with Petro Canada International Assistance Corporation, financial analyst with the Treasury Board of Canada and senior staff member to the prime minister. Recently, she was appointed to the RCMP Reform Implementation Council and the Internal Audit Committee of the federal Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

Appointed to the board in 2005, Côté-O’Hara joined Ryerson because she “knew it had dynamic leadership and was experiencing a period of exceptional growth and extensive transformation.” A strong advocate of education, Côté-O’Hara plans to see the university through its next phase of development and engagement with the city.

“Ryerson is a uniquely positioned university both in mandate and in location. It will always have a special character and it’s important to maintain that,” says Côté-O’Hara.

An active member of many community, voluntary and trade organizations, Côté-O’Hara has received the Award for Excellence from the International Association of Business Communicators, a citation for outstanding contribution from the executives of the Public Service of Canada and was named Woman of the Year by Canadian Women in Communications. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard Business School.

Côté-O’Hara encourages alumni to stay connected with Ryerson and get involved. She also recommends continuous self-improvement by enrolling in courses offered through The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education. “Lifelong learning can come from the university that gave you your early education,” she says. “Ryerson is constantly evolving and so should you as alumni.”

Deb levine is the visionary leader of the @awesome-women

Deb Levine is the visionary leader of the organization and provides guidance and strategy for the ISIS staff and board. She believes that reducing shame and embarrassment about sexual topics is guaranteed to create future generations of sexually confident, mature adults.

Deb has been working in the field of youth sexual health since 1993, when she discovered the power of the Internet to discuss sensitive topics while creating the immensely popular Go Ask Alice. Her work has been cited in former President Clinton’s Advisory Council Report on Education and the Internet, and in 2009, she was a Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow.

In addition to authoring a book, The Joy of Cybersex (Ballantine, 1998), Deb has authored and co-authored numerous professional papers that have been published in journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Journal of Sexuality Research and Social Policy, and AIDSCare.

She has written sex advice columns for AOL, Time-Warner, Planned Parenthood Federation, and Yahoo! and has been extensively quoted in print in the New York Times,, and The Wall Street Journal. Deb has also enjoyed notoriety on the Fox News Channel’s Bill O'Reilly show, and has been interviewed on National Public Radio.

Deb holds a Bachelor’s of Social Work from Cornell University and a Master’s of Arts in Experiential Education from New York University. She was also a non-degree student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Recently named one of the 10 filmmakers to watch @awesome-women

Recently named one of the “10 Filmmakers to Watch in 2011” by Independent Magazine, Nancy Schwartzman’s work explores the intersection of sexuality, new media, and the complexities of modern relationships. She is the director and producer of the documentary films The Line (Media Education Foundation, 2009) and xoxosms (May 2011).  She is in development on several projects involving young people and sexuality.

A catalyst for social change and an innovator for women’s rights, she is part of the winning team in the Apps Against Abuse Technology Challenge – a national competition sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contest was launched in July 2011 by Vice President Joe Biden and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The Circle of 6 app  is free and available for download at the iTunes store.

Using cutting edge media tools for story telling and activism, she is the founder and Executive Director of The Line Campaign, Inc a 501 © 3 dedicated to empowering young leaders to end sexual violence using original media to inspire action. Drawing on her experience in the field of transmedia activism and advocacy, she is a much sought-after speaker, traveling to colleges, conferences, community centers, high schools and non-profits in the Unites States and internationally, including at Yale, Brown, Stanford, M.I.T., Sex::Tech, Media That Matters, and more. Using film, PSAs and workshop discussions, Schwartzman challenges thousands of students to “think twice” and to change normative sexual behavior among college youth.

She is currently the Advocacy Director for Sundance Film Festival winner, “The Invisible War”. An early adopter, in founding, an initiative active from 2003-2005, she combined cutting edge mapping technology with community surveys and business participation. Schwartzman’s work is rooted in a passion for story telling and her activism is rooted in feminism and human rights.

Schwartzman’s first documentary film, The Line (2009), premiered at the International Women’s Film Festival in Tel Aviv and has screened in Toronto, Ankara, Taiwan, Liberia and continues to play nationally around the world. It is a fearless 24-minute documentary that chronicles one woman’s personal journey after she is raped – exploring the line of consent, justice, accountability and today’s media saturated “rape culture”. Launched in tandem with the film, The Line Campaign is an interactive space for dialogue about boundaries and consent. It has been lauded by the Center for Social Media and the Fledgling Fund.

Michaëlle jean pc cc cmm com cd frcpschon born @awesome-women

Michaëlle Jean PC CC CMM COM CD FRCPSC(hon) (born September 6, 1957) is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation, from 2005 to 2010.

Jean was a refugee[1] from Haiti—coming to Canada in 1968—and was raised in the town of Thetford Mines, Quebec. After receiving a number of university degrees, Jean worked as a journalist and broadcaster for Radio-Canada and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), as well as undertaking charity work, mostly in the field of assisting victims of domestic violence. In 2005, she was appointed governor general by Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, on the recommendation of Prime Minister Paul Martin, to replace Adrienne Clarkson as vicereine, and she occupied the post until succeeded by David Johnston in 2010. Early in her tenure, comments of hers recorded in some of the film works by her husband, Jean-Daniel Lafond, were construed as supporting Quebec sovereignty and her holding of dual citizenship caused doubt about her loyalties. But Jean denied separatist leanings, renounced her citizenship of France, and eventually became a respected vicereine. Jean is currently the Special Envoy for Haiti for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Chancellor of the University of Ottawa.

Michaelle Jean was sworn in as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada on September 26, 2012,[2] giving her the accordant style of The Honourable; however, as a former governor general of Canada, Jean is entitled to be styled for life with the superior form of The Right Honourable.

With her family, Jean fled Haiti to escape Duvalier’s regime, under which Jean’s father was in 1965 arrested and tortured.[6] Jean’s father left for Canada in 1967 and Jean, her mother, and sister, arrived the following year;[6] the family settled together at Thetford Mines, Quebec.[4][7] Jean’s father, however, became increasingly distant and violent, and her parents’ marriage eventually fell apart; she, with her mother and sister, then moved to a basement apartment in the Little Burgundy neighbourhood of Montreal.[6][8]

Jean received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Italian and Hispanic languages and literature from the University of Montreal, and, from 1984 to 1986, taught Italian Studies there, while completing her Master of Arts degree in comparative literature. She then went on with language and literature studies at the University of Florence, the University of Perugia, and the Catholic University of Milan. Besides French and English, Jean is fluent in Spanish, Italian, and Haitian Creole, and can read Portuguese.[7]

Concurrent with her studies between 1979 and 1987, Jean coordinated a study on spousal abuse and worked at a women’s shelter,[6] which paved the way for her establishment of a network of shelters for women and children across Canada. She also involved herself in organizations dedicated to assisting immigrants to Canada obtain the entry they desired, and later worked for Employment and Immigration Canada and at the Conseil des Communautés culturelles du Québec, where Jean began writing about the experiences of immigrant women.[7]

Jean became a reporter, filmmaker, and broadcaster for Radio-Canada in 1988,[3][7] hosting news and affairs programmes such as Actuel, Montréal ce soir, Virages, and Le Point; she was the first person of Caribbean descent to be seen on French television news in Canada.[6] By 2004, Jean was hosting her own show, Michaëlle, while continuing to anchor RDI’s Grands reportages, as well as acting occasionally as anchor of Le Téléjournal.[7]

Jean was Canada’s first governor general of Caribbean origin; the third woman (after Jeanne Sauvé and Adrienne Clarkson); the fourth youngest (after the Marquess of Lorne, who was 33 years old in 1878; the Marquess of Lansdowne, who was 38 years old in 1883; and Edward Schreyer, who was 43 years old in 1979); the fourth former journalist (after Sauvé, Roméo LeBlanc and Clarkson); and the second after Clarkson to not only have neither a political nor military background, but also to be a visible minority, to break the tradition of Canadian-born governors general, and to be in an interracial marriage. Jean was also the first representative of Queen Elizabeth II to have been born during the latter’s reign, and her appointment saw the first child living in Rideau Hall, the official residence, since Schreyer and his young family lived there in the early 1980s.

Summaries of Jean’s time as the Queen’s representative emerged by mid-2010; Jean was regarded as having fulfilled the role in an admirable, though not perfect, fashion. It was noted that she used the office, her speaking abilities, and photogenic nature to Canada’s advantage, promoting freedom, human rights, and urban youth, and to bring attention to socio-economic problems in the country’s north.[6] She was commended for her dedication to the arts, Aboriginal Canadians, the Armed Forces, and her outreach to Haiti following the earthquake there, but critiqued for specific incidents, such as referring to herself as Canada’s head of state and making public comments that skirted the political.[80][81][82] Her ability to personally connect with those she met was also noted, as well as her frequent displays of emotion; commentators dubbed her the empathizer-in-chief.[21]

Gloria evangelina anzaldúa september 26 1942 @awesome-women

Gloria Evangelina Anzaldúa (September 26, 1942 – May 15, 2004) was a scholar of Chicano cultural theory, feminist theory, and Queer theory. She loosely based her most well-known book Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza on her life growing up on the Mexican-Texas border and incorporated her lifelong feelings of social and cultural marginalization into her works.

Her works weave English and Spanish together as one language, an idea stemming from her theory of “borderlands” identity. Her autobiographical essay, “La Prieta,” was published in (mostly) English in This Bridge Called My Back, and in (mostly) Spanish in Esta puente, mi espalda: Voces de mujeres tercermundistas en los Estados Unidos. In her writing, Anzaldua uses a unique blend of eight languages, two variations of English and six of Spanish. In many ways, by writing in “Spanglish,” Anzaldua creates a daunting task for the non-bilingual reader to decipher the full meaning of the text. However, there is irony in the mainstream reader’s feeling of frustration and irritation. These are the very emotions Anzaldua has dealt with throughout her life, as she has struggled to communicate in a country where she felt as a non-English speaker she was shunned and punished. Language, clearly one of the borders Anzaldua addresses, is an essential feature to her writing. Her book is dedicated to being proud of one’s heritage and to recognizing the many dimensions of her culture.[3]

She has made contributions to ideas of feminism and has contributed to the field of cultural theory/Chicana and queer theory.[4] One of her major contributions was her introduction to United States academic audiences of the term mestizaje, meaning a state of being beyond binary (“either-or”) conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa calls for a “new mestiza,” which she describes as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these “new angles of vision” to challenge binary thinking in the Western world. The “new mestiza” way of thinking is illustrated in postcolonial feminism. In the same way that Anzaldúa felt she could not be classified as only part of one race or the other, she felt that she possessed a multi-sexuality. When growing up, Anzaldúa expressed that she felt an “intense sexuality” towards her own father, to animals and even to trees. She was attracted to and later had relationships with both men and women.[2]

While race normally divides people, Anzaldúa called for people of different races to confront their fears in order to move forward into a world that is less hateful and more useful. In “La Conciencia de la Mestiza: Towards a New Consciousness,” a text often used in women’s studies courses, Anzaldúa insisted that separatism invoked by Chicanos/Chicanas is not furthering the cause, but instead keeping the same racial division in place. Many of Anzaldúa’s works challenge the status quo of the movements in which she was involved. She challenged these movements in an effort to make real change happen to the world, rather than to specific groups.

Pearl cleage born december 7 1948 is an @awesome-women

Pearl Cleage (born December 7, 1948) is an African-American author whose work, both fiction and non-fiction, has been widely recognized. Her novel What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day was a 1998 Oprah Book Club selection. Cleage is known for her feminist views, particularly regarding her identity as an African-American woman. Cleage currently teaches drama at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Pearl notably writes about topics at the intersection of sexism and racism, specifically on issues such as domestic violence and rape in the black community.[7] She has been a supporter of the Obama administration.[8] Cleage is an activist for AIDS and women’s rights, experiences from which she draws from for her writings.[9]

Elizabeth jennings graham 18301901 was a black @awesome-women

Elizabeth Jennings Graham (1830–1901) was a black woman who lived in New York City. She figured in an important early civil rights case, when she insisted on her right to ride on a streetcar in 1854.

On Sunday, 16 July 1854, Jennings set off for the First Colored Congregational Church, where she was organist. As she was running late, she boarded a streetcar of the Third Avenue Railroad Company at the corner of Pearl and Chatham streets. The conductor ordered her to get off. When she refused, the conductor tried to remove her by force. Eventually, with the aid of a police officer, Jennings was ejected from the streetcar.

Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune commented on the incident in February 1855:

She got upon one of the Company’s cars last summer, on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The conductor undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full; when that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence; but (when) she insisted on her rights, he took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted. The conductor got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered, but she effectually resisted. Finally, after the car had gone on further, with the aid of a policeman they succeeded in removing her.

There was an organized movement among black New Yorkers to end this discrimination, led by notables such as Jennings’s father, Thomas, Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, and Rev. Henry Highland Garnet. Her story was publicized by Frederick Douglass, and received national attention.

Jennings filed a lawsuit against the driver, the conductor, and the Third Avenue Railroad Company in Brooklyn, where Third Avenue was headquartered. She was represented by the law firm of Culver, Parker, and Arthur. Her case was handled by the firm’s 24-year-old junior partner, Chester A. Arthur, future President of the United States.

In 1855, she received a verdict in her favor. In his charge to the jury, Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William Rockwell declared:

Colored persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, had the same rights as others and could neither be excluded by any rules of the Company, nor by force or violence.

The jury found for Jennings, and awarded damages in the amount of $225.00 (comparable to $5,000 to $10,000 in 2008 dollars). The judge added 10% and $22.50 in costs. The next day, the Third Avenue Railroad Company ordered its cars desegregated.

The Third Avenue Railroad, one of the first four street railway companies to be franchised in the city, had been in operation only one year at the time of the Jennings incident. The Jennings case was instrumental in establishing policy for a new service industry. A month after the verdict, a black man was refused admission to a car of the Eighth Avenue Railroad, another of the first four companies. He won a similar judgment confirming that in New York passengers could not be refused a ride based on race. New York’s public transit was fully desegregated by 1861.

Lucy parsons circa 1853 march 7 1942 was a @awesome-women

Lucy Parsons (circa 1853 – March 7, 1942) was a labor organizer, socialist, and legendary orator. Lucy was of Native American, Black, and Mexican ancestry, born in Texas as a slave. She moved to Chicago where she was a key organizer in the labor movement and also participated in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless, and women. She said, “We [women] are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men.” We salute Lucy Parsons, known by the Chicago Police Department as “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”. Know your revolutionary women’s history.

Coolchicksfromhistory portrait of zitkala sa by @awesome-women


Portrait of Zitkala-Sa by Gertrude Kasebier, about 1898.

Zitkala-Sa was the pen name of writer and activist Gertrude Simmons Bonnin (1876-1938).  She exposed the hardships faced by students at Native American boarding schools by writing about her own experiences as a student and as a teacher.  Zitkala-Sa also published a book of tribal folklore called Old Indian Legends and composed The Sun Dance Opera with composer William F. Hanson. 

In 1930, Zitkala-Sa founded the National Council of American Indians, the first trans-tribal Native American organization to lobby the government for better treatment of Natives. 

A selection of Zitkala-Sa’s writings can be read online here.

An analysis of Gertrude Kasebier’s portraits of Zitkala-Sa can be read here.