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Unveiling Unsung Sheroes

By Anjetta "Anjie" Williams-Brown

History is filled with the accomplishments of men, however during the month of March we set aside time to pay tribute to Women. Whether celebrated or not, women have always had to be inventive and take charge of their situations!

Although we could look at anytime in history, World War II really demonstrates how women’s lives changed forever.  Their behind-the-scenes efforts are what helped make victory possible. Women went into factories and offices doing the important things the men were no longer available to do.  Women found their voice and made their mark on her-tory.

Despite facing systemic challenges and societal prejudices, women have played pivotal roles in shaping the world we live in today. From the Roaring Twenties to the contemporary era, from long dresses to miniskirts, these unsung heroines have defied the odds, shattered glass ceilings, and left an indelible mark on various fields. However, no matter how much of a contribution women make to society, they are still often downplayed.

So, please allow me to share a few of my favorites:

Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958): The Unsung Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) Pioneer.

While James Watson and Francis Crick are widely recognized for their discovery of the DNA double helix structure, Rosalind Franklin's crucial contributions often go overlooked. Her work in X-ray crystallography played a vital role in understanding the structure of DNA, Ribonucleic acid (RNA), viruses, coal, and graphite. Franklin's groundbreaking research laid the foundation for our understanding of molecular biology.

Dorothy Vaughan (1910-2008): The Hidden Figure. 

A brilliant mathematician and computer programmer, Dorothy Vaughan played a crucial role at NASA during the early days of the space race. As one of the "Hidden Figures" portrayed in the book and film, Vaughan's leadership and expertise in programming electronic computers were vital to the success of the Mercury and Apollo missions.

Josephine Baker (1906-1975): The Groundbreaking Entertainer and Civil Rights Activist.

Josephine Baker rose to prominence during the 1920s. She captivated audiences in Paris with her electrifying performances. Using her entertainment skills and beauty, she was a spy for France during the French Resistance against the Nazis.

Wangari Maathai (1940-2011): The Green Warrior.

 An environmentalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, advocating for environmental conservation and women's rights in Kenya. Maathai's efforts in tree planting and sustainable development had a profound impact on both the environment and the empowerment of women, earning her international recognition.

Marie Curie (1867- 1934):  French Physicist.

Born in Warsaw, Marie Curie became the first woman professor of general physics at the Sorbonne (sometimes known as the University of Paris) in 1906. She was the first woman to obtain a science doctorate. Madame Curie was also the first person to win two Nobel Prizes: the first in physics in 1903, with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel, for their study in spontaneous radiation, and the second in chemistry in 1911 for her work in radioactivity.

These unsung women left indelible marks on society. Their stories tell women in all walks of life and all corners of the world, they have value that must be acknowledged.  As we continue breaking the glass ceiling, let’s always remember and honor those brave women that made it all possible!

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