A celebration of women...
On all cards printed from July 2019 onward you may notice the "stamps" on the back. We thought it necessary to celebrate inspiring women.
We've a varying selection of inventors, athletes, journalists, photographers, aviators, authors, artists, heroes of war and the suffragette movement, and women right now fighting for freedom of expression and the climate crisis.
Below will tell you a bit about each woman and how they made and are making history.
Author (15 December 1930 -)
Josephine Edna O'Brien, DBE is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. Philip Roth described her as "the most gifted woman now writing in English", while the former President of Ireland Mary Robinson cited her as "one of the great creative writers of her generation".
O'Brien's awards include a Kingsley Amis Award in 1962 (for The Country Girls), The Yorkshire Post Book Award in 1970 (for A Pagan Place), and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in 1990 for Lantern Slides. In 2006, she was appointed adjunct professor of English Literature in University College, Dublin.
In 2009, O'Brien was honoured with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award during a special ceremony at the year's Irish Book Awards in Dublin. Her collection Saints and Sinners won the 2011 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, with judge Thomas McCarthy referring to her as "the Solzhenitsyn of Irish life". RTÉ aired a documentary on her as part of its Arts strand in early 2012. On April 10, 2018, for her contributions to literature, she was appointed an honorary Dame of the Order of the British Empire.
Navy Admiral and Computer Programmer (1906 - 1992)
Grace Brewster Murray-Hopper, was a trailblazing computer science pioneer and if that wasn't enough, a highly accomplished naval officer who reached the rank of Rear Admiral (formerly known as Commodore - the equivalent of Brigadier General in the Army).
At the time this made her one of the first Rear Admirals ever in the US Navy.
Grace was at the very cutting edge of computers and programming development from the 1940s through the 1980s. Many in the field of computing also consider her the "Queen of Code/Software" for her contributions to the field of computing.
She also taught mathematics as an associate professor at Vassar College before joining the United States Naval Reserve as a lieutenant (junior grade) during World War II. It is largely due to Grace Hopper’s influence that programmers use “if/thens” instead of 1s and 0s today.
Rida Al Tubuly
Libya Peace campaigner (1957 - )
Rida Al Tubuly is one of many women pushing for gender equality - but she's doing it from a warzone. Her organisation, Together We Build It, pushes for women's involvement in solving Libya's conflict.
In 2018, she told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that high level UN meetings about Libya's future were failing to include women. The university professor holds a postgraduate degree in International Human Rights Law.
"Women's future is now, not tomorrow and not the day after. I promote peace at all levels, and I'm confident that women are able to very soon change the status quo in fields historically designated to men, such as peace building and conflict mediation."
Gay Activist (July 31, 1932 - February 18, 2007)
Barbara Gittings, was among the most important figures in LGBT history. Before Stonewall, Gittings organised the New York chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), served as editor of DOB's magazine, helped organize the first gay rights protests at the White House and the State Department, and organised the five Annual Reminders at Independence Hall from 1965 to 1969. After Stonewall, Gittings and Frank Kameny led the efforts that resulted in homosexuality being removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental disorders; she also helped form the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF, @thetaskforce). And, for forty-six years, she was an equal partner in a loving relationship with Kay Tobin, another of the founding parents of the LGBT movement. As the executive director of the NGLTF said at Gittings' funeral: "What do we owe Barbara? Everything."
Diana Athill OBE
Literary editor, novelist and memoirist (21 December 1917 – 23 January 2019)
Athill graduated from Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, in 1939 and worked for the BBC throughout the Second World War. After the war, Athill helped her friend André Deutsch establish the publishing house Allan Wingate, and five years later, in 1952, she was a founding director of the publishing company that was given his name.
She worked closely with many Deutsch authors, including Philip Roth, Norman Mailer, John Updike, Mordecai Richler, Simone de Beauvoir, Jean Rhys, Gitta Sereny, Brian Moore, V. S. Naipaul, Molly Keane, Stevie Smith, Jack Kerouac, Charles Gidley Wheeler, Margaret Atwood, and David Gurr.
Athill retired from Deutsch in 1993 at the age of 75, after more than 50 years in publishing.She continued to influence the literary world through her revealing memoirs about her editorial career.
The first book of her own writing to appear was the short story collection An Unavoidable Delay (1962), and she published two further works of fiction: a novel entitled Don't Look at Me Like That (1967) and in 2011 another volume of stories, Midsummer Night in the Workhouse. She was best known, however, for her books of memoirs, the first of which was Instead of a Letter in 1963. These memoirs were not written in chronological order, Yesterday Morning (2002) being the account of her childhood. She also translated various works from French.
She appeared on Desert Island Discs in 2004 at the age of 86 and selected a recording of Haydn's The Creation as the most valued of the eight records and Thackeray's Vanity Fair as the book.
In 2008, she won the Costa Book Award for her memoir Somewhere Towards The End, a book about old age. For the same book, she also received the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2009.
Athill was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to literature.
In June 2010, she was the subject of a BBC documentary, Growing Old Disgracefully, part of the Imagine series, and in 2013, she was listed as one of the 50 best-dressed over-50s by The Guardian.
In 2011 Granta Books published Instead of a Book: Letters to a Friend, a collection of letters from Athill to the American poet Edward Field chronicling their intimate correspondence spanning more than 30 years (he kept all her letters, she kept none of his). Granta Books published two further titles by her: Alive, Alive Oh!: And Other Things That Matter in 2015 and A Florence Diary in 2016.
Dr. Patricia Bath
Inventor (1942 - 2019)
Patricia Era Bath was an American ophthalmologist, inventor, humanitarian, and academic. She was the first woman member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, first woman to lead a post-graduate training program in ophthalmology, and first woman elected to the honorary staff of the UCLA Medical Center Laserphaco Probe, which she continued to perfect and later patented in 1988.
The tool was used during eye surgery to correct cataracts, an eye condition that clouds vision and can lead to blindness. Cataracts usually affect older people. Bath's laser tool was more precise, less invasive, and less risky than previous devices, and has been used around the world.
She was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology; the first woman to chair an ophthalmology residency program in the United States; and the first African American female doctor to secure a medical patent. She also co-founded the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.
www.teacher.scholastic.com & Wikipedia
Amy Johnson was the first female pilot to fly alone from England to Australia, which she achieved at the age of 26.
On 5 May 1930, Amy set off from Croydon in a Gipsy Moth aircraft named 'Jason',and landed in Darwin on 24 May, a flight distance of approximately 11,000 miles.
Other records achieved by Amy
July 1931 - England to Japan record in a Puss Moth with Jack Humphreys,
July 1932 - a solo flight from England to Cape Town
May 1936 - England to Cape Town, solo, in a Percival Gull
On 5 January 1941, Amy's plane crashed into the Thames estuary and she was drowned; her body was never recovered.
Athlete (1990 - )
Maria Toorpakai Wazir is a top-ranked squash player in a region of the world where girls aren’t allowed to participate in sports. To play, she disguised herself as a boy.
Toorpakai was born in Waziristan, Pakistan, a remote region commonly referred to as the “most dangerous place on earth,” where girls rarely go to school and certainly don’t play sports. Toorpakai, however, grew up differently from other girls. At the age of four, she burnt all her dresses, cut her hair, put on her brother’s clothes, and began to live life as a boy. Her father, a strong advocate for equal rights and opportunities for men and women, pushed tradition aside and allowed her to live disguised in order to flourish as an athlete.
When Toorpakai was 12 years old, still disguised as a boy, she was ranked #2 in Pakistan’s junior division for weightlifting. Soon after, she discovered squash. When the local squash academy in Peshawar required a birth certificate, her true identity was revealed. Fortunately, the director shared the same values as Toorpakai’s father and handed her a racquet anyway.
Once Toorpakai started competing in Pakistan, she and her family received death threats from the Taliban and it was no longer safe for her to compete or leave her family’s home. For three years, Toorpakai, trapped inside her home, hit a ball against her bedroom wall and never gave up hope. She sent thousands of emails to people around the world asking for help to leave Pakistan. One day her prayer was answered: Jonathan Power, a former champion squash player, asked her to come to Toronto and train with him.
Toorpakai has been living and training in Canada and is now ranked number 47th in the world. She still plays for Pakistan.
Journalist (October 4, 1896 – October 4, 1964)
Dorothy Lawrence was an aspiring journalist who dreamed of becoming a war correspondent. In 1915, she disguised herself as a male soldier and infiltrated the Royal Engineers 51st Division, 79th Tunnelling Company, making her the only know English woman on the frontline during the First World War.
Though her efforts as a journalist were not properly appreciated at the time, now, nearly 100 years later, Dorothy’s accomplishments are finally beginning to be acknowledged. Her autobiography has been reprinted, and the Imperial War Museum has included her experiences at the front in their collections. Her desire to break the boundaries set up for her sex ultimately ended in her making a brave contribution to socio-political history.
Florence Griffith Joyner
Athlete (December 21, 1959 – September 21, 1998)
Also known as Flo-Jo, was an American track and field athlete. She is considered the fastest woman of all time based on the fact that the world records she set in 1988 for both the 100 m and 200 m still stand.
During the late 1980s she became a popular figure in international track and field because of her record-setting performances and flashy personal style. Griffith-Joyner was born and raised in California. She was athletic from a young age. She attended California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where she participated in track and field. Griffith-Joyner qualified for the 100 m 1980 Olympics, although she did not actually compete due to the U.S. boycott. She made her Olympic debut four years later winning a silver medal. At the 1988 U.S. Olympic trials, Griffith set a new world record in the 100 m.
She went on to win three gold medals at the 1988 Olympics. Shortly after the 1988 games, she abruptly retired. After her retirement from athletics, Griffith-Joyner remained a pop culture figure through endorsement deals, acting, and designing. She died in her sleep as the result of an epileptic seizure in 1998 at the age of 38.
Climate Activist (2003 - )
In August 2018, Greta Thunberg started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish Parliament that has since spread all over the world and now involves over 100,000 schoolchildren. The movement is now called Fridays For Future.
Thunberg has spoken at climate rallies in Stockholm, Helsinki, Brussels and London. In December she attended the United Nations COP24 in Katowice, Poland, where she addressed the Secretary-General and made a plenary speech that went viral and was shared many million times around the globe. In January 2019 she was invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos where her speeches again made a worldwide impact.
Thunberg tries to live a low-carbon life. Therefore she is vegan, and she doesn't fly. She has been named as one of the worlds most influential teens by TIME magazine.
Emily Penn is an oceans advocate, skipper and artist; a graduate of Cambridge University with a degree in Architecture.
As much at home in and on the water as she is on dry land, Emily's ability to develop and communicate solutions for challenges facing today's society has been sharpened by a diverse portfolio of unique experiences.
She has organised the largest ever community-led waste cleanup from a tiny Tongan island, trawled for micro plastics on a voyage through the Arctic Northwest Passage, rounded the planet on the record-breaking biofuelled boat Earthrace, and worked on a sailing cargo ship trading western supplies for coconuts.
Emily splits her time between running eXXpedition - a series of all female voyages which focus on the relationship between plastics and toxics and female health.
Prior to this, Emily co-founded Pangaea Explorations, to enable scientists, filmmakers and everyday people gain access to the most remote parts of our planet; collecting data on global issues and along the way discovered previously unknown oceanic gyres – huge areas of plastic pollution accumulation.
An experienced public speaker, Emily has spoken around the world at TEDx conferences, universities and global companies, sharing both her adventures and an understanding of the issues relating to our oceans, human mindset and future society.
Emily was honoured with the Fitzroy Award at the 2016 Ocean Awards and is also the youngest and only female recipient of both the Yachtmaster of the Year, awarded by HRH Princess Royal, and the Seamaster of the Year award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical society and in 2017 was elected as a member of the Cordon Rouge Club.
(also al-Sada or al-Sasa) is from the "restive Shi'ite-majority" eastern province Qatif, Saudi Arabia. She has "campaigned for civil and political rights, women's rights and the rights of the Shi'a minority" in the eastern province Qatif, Saudi Arabia for many years. She ran as a candidate in the 2015 Saudi Arabian municipal elections but was disqualified. Sadah and another prominent activist, Samar Badawi, were arrested on July 30, 2018  were arrested by Saudi authorities in a broader "government crackdown" on "activists, clerics and journalists." Al Sada was placed in solitary confinement in early February 2019 in al-Mabahith Prison in Dammam
English author, feminist, essayist, publisher and critic.
(25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941)
Virginia Woolf was considered as one of the foremost modernists of the twentieth century along with T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, and Gertrude Stein. Her parents were Sir Leslie Stephen (1832–1904), who was a notable historian, author, critic and mountaineer, and Julia Prinsep Duckworth (1846–1895), a renowned beauty. According to Woolf's memoirs, her most vivid childhood memories were not of London but of St. Ives in Cornwall, where the family spent every summer until 1895. This place inspired her to write one of her masterpieces, To the Lighthouse.
The sudden death of her mother in 1895, when Virginia was 13, and that of her half-sister Stella two years later, led to the first of Virginia's several nervous breakdowns. but it was the death of her father in 1904 provoked her most alarming collapse and she was briefly institutionalised. Some scholars have suggested that her mental instability was also due to the sexual abuse to which she and her sister Vanessa were subjected by their half-brothers George and Gerald Duckworth.
Woolf came to know the founders of the the Bloomsbury Group. She became an active member of this literary circle. Later, Virginia Stephen married writer Leonard Woolf on 10 August 1912. Despite his low material status (Woolf referring to Leonard during their engagement as a "penniless Jew") the couple shared a close bond.
Virginia's most famous works include the novels Mrs Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927) and Orlando (1928), and the book-length essay A Room of One's Own (1929), with its famous dictum, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." In some of her novels she moves away from the use of plot and structure to employ stream-of-consciousness to emphasise the psychological aspects of her characters.
After completing the manuscript of her last (posthumously published) novel, Between the Acts, Woolf fell into a depression similar to that which she had earlier experienced. On 28 March 1941, Woolf put on her overcoat, filled its pockets with stones, and walked into the River Ouse near her home and drowned herself. Woolf's body was not found until 18 April 1941. Her husband buried her cremated remains under an elm in the garden of Monk's House, their home in Rodmell, Sussex.
Her final writing were these words addressed to her husband:
"I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can't even write this properly. I can't read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that—everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can't go on spoiling your life any longer. I don't think two people could have been happier than we have been."
Manoko / Banana Yoshimoto
Banana Yoshimoto wrote her first novel, Kitchen, while working as a waitress at a golf-course restaurant. It sold millions of copies worldwide, and led to a phenomenon dubbed by Western journalists as "Banana mania." Yoshimoto has gone on to be one of the biggest-selling and most distinguished writers in Japanese history, winning numerous awards for her work. The Lake is her thirteenth book of fiction.
Painter, Gallery Owner, and Entrepreneur (1975 - )
Sarah Ashley Longshore (popularly known as Ashley Longshore) is a Louisiana-based painter, gallery owner, and entrepreneur. She is the owner of the Longshore Studio Gallery, located on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Longshore's art focuses on pop culture, Hollywood glamour, and American consumerism and has been compared to the artwork of Andy Warhol.
She has been recognised as a "modern Andrea Warhol" by the New York Post, and was on Brit + Co’s list of "16 Female Artists You Should Know", and visiting her studio was listed as one of the "15 Best Things to do In New Orleans" by Condé Nast Traveler in 2018. She has worked with celebrity art collectors including Blake Lively, Salma Hayek, Eli Manning, and Penelope Cruz. In 2018, The New York Times described Longshore as an "avatar of pop feminism to thousands of followers".
"My paintings are representative of the world I see around me. I am inspired by pop culture and things that I find intriguing. I really like to combine the use of words and images in an unexpected way to create a smart, colourful bold statement. Most importantly my love of colour is what really makes my artwork “POP”. My paintings are statement pieces that are a reflection of the experiences I have in my life." - AL
Painter (1907 - 1954)
Mexican artist Frida Kahlo is remembered for her self-portraits, pain and passion, and bold, vibrant colors. She is celebrated in Mexico for her attention to Mexican and indigenous culture and by feminists for her depiction of the female experience and form.
Widely known for her Marxist leanings, Frida, along with Marxism Revolutionary Che Guevara and a small band of contemporary figures, has become a countercultural symbol of 20th century, and created a legacy in paint that continue to inspire the imagination and mind.
Kahlo did not sell many paintings in her lifetime, although she painted occasional portraits on commission. She had only one solo exhibition in Mexico in her lifetime, in 1953, just a year before her death at the age of 47.
Today, her works sell for very high prices. In May 2006, Frida Kahlo self-portrait, Roots, was sold for $5.62 million at a Sotheby's auction in New York, sets a record as the most expensive Latin American work ever purchased at auction, and also makes Frida Kahlo one of the highest-selling woman in art.
Artist (1929 - )
Avant-garde Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was an influential figure in the postwar New York art scene, staging provocative happenings and exhibiting works such as her “Infinity Nets,” hallucinatory paintings of loops and dots (and physical representations of the idea of infinity). Narcissus Garden, an installation of hundreds of mirrored balls, earned Kusama notoriety at the 1966 Venice Biennale, where she attempted to sell the individual spheres to passersby. Kusama counted Donald Judd and Eva Hesse among her close friends, and is often considered an influence on Andy Warhol and a precursor to Pop art. Since her return to Japan in the 1970s, Kusama's work has continued to appeal to the imagination and the senses, including dizzying walk-in installations, public sculptures, and the "Dots Obsessions" paintings.
She has traded on her identity as an 'outsider' in many contexts – as a female artist in a male-dominated society, as a Japanese person in the Western art world, and as a victim of her own neurotic and obsessional symptoms. After achieving fame and notoriety with groundbreaking art happenings and events, she returned to her country of birth and is now Japan's most prominent contemporary artist.
www.tate.org.uk & artsy.net
English Labour Party politician (1949 - 2005)
Marjorie "Mo" Mowlam was an English Labour Party politician. She was the Member of Parliament for Redcar from 1987 to 2001 and served in the Cabinet as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
When Mo arrived as Northern Ireland secretary in 1997, the job was reputed to be a “poisoned chalice”. However, Mo not only brought the opposing parties to the table but also helped persuade a country of divided communities to come together for the sake of peace and progress.
Mowlam will be remembered for her toughness and courage, as well as her persistence and good humour. She was affable and straightforward and able to talk to anyone. She gained an enormous amount of public popularity and support for her work in Northern Ireland, by handling what was arguably one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs in government. She was unafraid and willing to talk face-to-face with terrorists, her modus operandi being to try to bring two sides together, not by imposing solutions made by others, but by listening to what the people involved actually wanted. In terms of Irish politics, this standpoint was rather refreshing and went a long way towards the building of a peace process that has endured for more than a decade.
Wikipedia, The Guardian & www.history.co.uk
(1928 - 2015)
By our artist, Daryl.
Susannah ‘Susie’ Storey - Born 15th January 1928 in Low Moorsley, County Durham.
My gran, Susie was a keen cyclist when she was younger, working for Woolworths and Pyrex glass. She was an extraordinary, kindhearted, talkative people person. Which certainly rubbed off on me.
She had a love for craft skills - knitting, darning and embroidery, which she lovingly passed onto me. She was a strong pillar in her community, being a committee member at the village hall. She would use her craft skills to knit her famous loopy hats and cardigans for a stall at the village fair to raise money for the local community. She would cheer up every single person she would cross paths with and it would always fascinate me that she could get anybody chatting!
When thinking about women who have influenced me in life my Gran Susie is definitely top of my list. She showed me how to be kind, caring and would always let me be me and I loved her very much.
Actor, Comedian, Author, Talk Show Host, Advocate of LGBT rights (1958 - Present)
With her own talk show, Ellen DeGeneres is one of America's most well-known comedians, also serving as a prominent gay/lesbian role model.
In 2003, Ellen DeGeneres became a big hit with daytime viewers with her self-titled talk show, Ellen. Since its inception, the show has won a slew of Daytime Emmy and People's Choice Awards.
DeGeneres is also the author of several books, including My Point ... and I Do Have One(1995), Seriously ... I'm Kidding (2011) and Home (2015). Her film work slowed after her talk show took off, but she's continued to work mostly behind the scenes as an executive producer of several television shows including Bethenny (2012-2014), Repeat After Me(2015), One Big Happy (2015), Little Big Shots (2015) and her HGTV reality competition show, Ellen's Design Challenge.
Juggling many roles in Hollywood, DeGeneres has continued building her empire. She owns her own record label called "eleveneleven," as well as a lifestyle brand called Ed by Ellen (launched in 2015) which sells shoes, home and baby items, accessories and a pet line. She is an avid animal rights and gay rights activist, as well as a vegan.
In November 2016 DeGeneres received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama for her contribution to the arts.
In early 2018, as part of a 60th birthday gift from de Rossi, the TV personality learned of plans to create the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund in Rwanda, the first initiative of the new Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund.
Footballer (1905 - 1978)
Parr played for the Dick, Kerr Ladies, a team comprised of workers at a munitions factory in Preston, Lancashire, which became the most successful women’s team of all time. Parr netted 34 goals for the club in her first season, aged just 14.
Dick, Kerr was the best of the bunch, and Parr was its star player. She was a mean left shot and, according to the National Football Museum, scored 43 goals during her first season alone. In 1920, Parr represented England in the first recognized women’s international football game, helping her country beat France 2-0. When Dick, Kerr played against the St. Helen’s Ladies on Boxing Day of 1920, some 53,000 people flocked to Goodison Park stadium in Liverpool to watch the game, with thousands more locked outside.
In 1921 the Football Association banned women’s clubs from its grounds, deeming the sport “quite unsuitable for females.” The prohibition remained in place until the late 1960s, but that did not stop Parr from continuing to play; she toured abroad with Dick, Kerr, staying with the team until 1951.
An energetic, somewhat mischievous character, Parr was known to swipe balls from the field and sell them for profit. She also asked for her wages to be supplemented with Woodbine cigarettes.
After her football career came to an end, Parr trained as a nurse and worked in a psychiatric hospital. She was, according to History, also openly gay. Parr died in 1978, at the age of 73. Over the course of her 32-years as a football player, she scored nearly 1,000 goals—a prodigious record that helped her become the first woman inducted into the National Football Museum’s Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
A life-size statue of Lily Parr, the trailblazing, chain-smoking, goal-scoring winger of the 1920s and 30s, is outside Manchester’s National Football Museum.
The Guardian & www.smithsonianmag.com
Tennis Player (1870 - 1966)
The 1900 Paris Olympics were the first of their kind to allow women to compete – and it was a British woman, Charlotte Cooper, who came away as the first ever female Olympic champion.
Cooper was also five times Wimbledon Ladies Singles champion between 1985 and 1908, and lest we forget had the added pressure of playing in a traditional Victorian ankle-length dress. She also lost her hearing at the age of 26, three years before her Olympic success.
Cooper would have grown up during the Women’s Suffrage movement, which started in 1872. Votes for women were not granted until 1918, which means Cooper spent the early 1900s cementing her place in sporting history yet still could not vote in a general election.
Following her marriage, Charlotte played under her married name and was the second of only four women in history to win the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles after becoming a mother.At 37 years and 296 days old, Charlotte Cooper Sterry is still, to this day, the oldest Wimbledon Ladies’ singles champion.
Charlotte passed away in 1966 at the age of 96. It is claimed that neither her medals nor Wimbledon trophies could be found after her death, and her son apparently said it was in her nature to ‘give them away to the gardener’.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
American lawyer and Jurist (1933 - )
Ruth Bader Ginsburg spent a lifetime flourishing in the face of adversity before being appointed a Supreme Court justice, where she successfully fought against gender discrimination and unified the liberal block of the court. She was born Ruth Bader on March 15, 1933 in Brooklyn, New York. Her father was a furrier in the height of the Great Depression, and her mother worked in a garment factory. Ginsburg’s mother instilled a love of education in Ginsburg through her dedication to her brother; foregoing her own education to finance her brother’s college expenses. Her mother heavily influenced her early life and watched Ginsburg excel at James Madison High School, but was diagnosed with cancer and died the day before Ginsburg’s high school graduation. Ginsburg’s success in academia continued throughout her years at Cornell University, where she graduated at the top of her class in 1954. That same year, Ruth Bader became Ruth Bader Ginsburg after marrying her husband Martin, who was a first-year law student at Cornell when they met. After graduation, she put her education on hold to start a family. She had her first child in 1955, shortly after her husband was drafted for two years of military service. Upon her husband’s return from his service, Ginsburg enrolled at Harvard Law.
Ginsburg’s personal struggles neither decreased in intensity nor deterred her in any way from reaching and exceeding her academic goals, even when her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1956, during her first year of law school. Ginsburg took on the challenge of keeping her sick husband up-to-date with his studies while maintaining her own position at the top of the class. At Harvard, Ginsburg tackled the challenges of motherhood and of a male-dominated school where she was one of nine females in a 500-person class. She faced gender-based discrimination from even the highest authorities there, who chastised her for taking a man’s spot at Harvard Law. She served as the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Her husband recovered from cancer, graduated from Harvard, and moved to New York City to accept a position at a law firm there. Ruth Bader Ginsburg had one more year of law school left, so she transferred to Columbia Law School and served on their law review as well. She graduated first in her class at Columbia Law in 1959.
Even her exceptional academic record was not enough to shield her from the gender-based discrimination women faced in the workplace in the 1960s. She had difficulties finding a job until a favourite Columbia professor explicitly refused to recommend any other graduates before U.S. District Judge Edmund L. Palmieri hired Ginsburg as a clerk. Ginsburg clerked under Judge Palmieri for two years. After this, she was offered some jobs at law firms, but always at a much lower salary than her male counterparts. She instead took some time to pursue her other legal passion, civil procedure, choosing to join the Columbia Project on International Civil Procedure. This project fully immersed her in Swedish culture, where she lived abroad to do research for her book on Swedish Civil Procedure practices. Upon her return to the States, she accepted a job as a professor at Rutgers University Law School in 1963, a position she held until accepting an offer to teach at Columbia in 1972. There, she became the first female professor at Columbia to earn tenure. Ginsburg also directed the influential Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s. In this position, she led the fight against gender discrimination and successfully argued six landmark cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Ginsburg took a broad look at gender discrimination, fighting not just for the women left behind, but for the men who were discriminated against as well. Ginsburg experienced her share of gender discrimination, even going so far as to hide her pregnancy from her Rutgers colleagues. Ginsburg accepted Jimmy Carter’s appointment to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in 1980. She served on the court for thirteen years until 1993, when Bill Clinton appointed her to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her career as a justice where she left off as an advocate, fighting for women’s rights. In 1996, Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion in United States v. Virginia, holding that qualified women could not be denied admission to Virginia Military Institute. Her style in advocating from the bench matches her style from her time at the ACLU: slow but steady, and calculated. Instead of creating sweeping limitations on gender discrimination, she attacked specific areas of discrimination and violations of women’s rights one at a time, so as to send a message to the legislatures on what they can and cannot do. Her attitude is that major social change should not come from the courts, but from Congress and other legislatures. This method allows for social change to remain in Congress’ power while also receiving guidance from the court. Ginsburg does not shy away from giving pointed guidance when she feels the need. She dissented in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. where the plaintiff, a female worker being paid significantly less than males with her same qualifications, sued under Title VII but was denied relief under a statute of limitations issue. The facts of this case mixed her passion of federal procedure and gender discrimination. She broke with tradition and wrote a highly colloquial version of her dissent to read from the bench. She also called for Congress to undo this improper interpretation of the law in her dissent, and then worked with President Obama to pass the very first piece of legislation he signed, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a copy of which hangs proudly in her office.
While many people speculate as to when the justice will retire, any assumption of frailty would be utterly misplaced. Ginsburg works with a personal trainer in the Supreme Court’s exercise room, and notably, can lift more than both Justices Breyer and Kagan. Until the 2018 term, Ginsburg had not missed a day of oral arguments, not even when she was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer, after surgery for colon cancer, or the day after her husband passed away in 2010. Justice Ginsburg has proven time and again that she is a force to be reckoned with, and those who doubt her capacity to effectively complete her judicial duties need only to look at her record in oral arguments, where she is still the among the most avid questioners on the bench today.
Photographer (1921 - 1973)
Diane Arbus was best known for her intimate black-and-white portraits. Arbus often photographed people on the fringes of society, including the mentally ill, transgender people, and circus performers. Interested in probing questions of identity, Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey (1967), simultaneously captured the underlying differences and physical resemblance of twin sisters. “A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know,” she once mused.
Born Diane Nemerov on March 24, 1923 in New York, NY, she was raised in a wealthy family, enabling her to pursue artistic interests from an early age. She first saw the photographs of Mathew Brady, Paul Strand, and Eugène Atget, while visiting Alfred Stieglitz’s gallery with her husband Allan Arbus in 1941. During the mid-1940s, the married couple began a commercial photography venture that contributed to Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. Burned out on commercial work by the 1950s, Arbus began roaming the streets of New York with her camera, documenting the city through its citizens. These images were later shown alongside those of Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander in The Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “New Documents” (1967). Having struggled with depressive episodes throughout her life, Arbus committed suicide on July 26, 1971 at the age of 48.
In 1972, a year after her death, the first major retrospective of Arbus’ work took place at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Today, her works are held in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among others.
Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace
Mathematician (1815 – 1852)
An English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was the first to recognise that the machine had applications beyond pure calculation, and published the first algorithm intended to be carried out by such a machine. As a result, she is sometimes regarded as the first to recognise the full potential of a "computing machine" and one of the first computer programmers.
Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea on the calculating engine, supplementing it with an elaborate set of notes, simply called Notes. These notes contain what many consider to be the first computer program—that is, an algorithm designed to be carried out by a machine. Other historians reject this perspective and point out that Babbage's personal notes from the years 1836/1837 contain the first programs for the engine.
Lovelace's notes are important in the early history of computers. She also developed a vision of the capability of computers to go beyond mere calculating or number-crunching, while many others, including Babbage himself, focused only on those capabilities. Her mindset of "poetical science" led her to ask questions about the Analytical Engine (as shown in her notes) examining how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool.
Ada Lovelace Day is an annual event celebrated on the second Tuesday of October, which began in 2009. Its goal is to "... raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering, and maths," and to "create new role models for girls and women" in these fields.