Influential women

Celebrating women's history month

Mary Gillon, Print Editor-in-Chief

The month of March is Women’s History Month, which recognizes the contributions of the women before us who have helped to mold the world today.

Below are only a handful of women who have done just that:


  • Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, representing New York’s 12th district from 1969-1983. In 1968, she announced her candidacy for the President of the United States. With her presidential bid, running as a Democrat, she became the first female and black candidate running for a major political party. Although she didn’t win the presidency, she became a trailblazer, inspiring countless other women to run for president.
  • Ellen Degeneres publically came out on the hit show Ellen, which then became the first prime-time sitcom to feature a gay leading character. After the show’s cancellation in 1997, Degeneres became the host of her own show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Degeneres does many philanthropic things on her show, most memorably helping out families in need and surprising audience members with family members deployed in the military.
  • Oprah Winfrey has been a talk show host for decades, first hosting People are Talking. She eventually worked her way up, hosting her own show, The Oprah Winfrey Show– a real girl boss. She inspired and still does today, millions of people through her gracious gifts to charity, like Free The Children, which builds homes for school children in developing countries, and projects such as The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.
  • Reese Witherspoon most notably starred as Elle Woods in the film Legally Blonde. The film alone inspired women around the globe. “I’ve had young women come up to me and say, ‘I went to law school because of Elle Woods,’” Witherspoon said.  Now, although she still stars in productions, she runs Hello Sunshine, “a media company that puts women at the center of every story… shining a light on where women are now and helping them chart a new path forward.” Reese’s Book Club is a part of the company, giving Witherspoon’s literal seal of approval.
  • Katie Sowers is the assistant football coach for the San Francisco 49ers. She was the first female and openly gay person to coach in the Super Bowl (LIV). It’s quite the achievement on its own, but also in terms of her own coaching history. After Sowers graduated college, she was turned down from a volunteer coaching position because of her sexual orientation and was asked not to come around the team. “Without that experience, I would not be where I am today,” she said.
  • Emma Watson is most known for her role as Hermoine Granger in the Harry Potter series but has become quite the activist in recent years. She is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, serving as an advocate for UN Women’s HeForShe campaign, which promotes gender equality. She also promotes the purchase of sustainable clothing and served as an ambassador for Camfed International, which aims to educate girls in rural Africa.