This March, we're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting the great work that women have accomplished in the workplace. See more great content about the impact of hard-working women here.

Even in today's world, women are significantly underrepresented in many markets and, most notably, are often completely absent from leadership and executive roles. Industries with female-dominated employees and those who target female-dominated market segments are often led by men. Thanks to the tenacity and ingenuity of the following women, that gap is closing.

Female leaders are often held to higher standards than their male counterparts and, consequently, are often recognized for the accountability that comes with added scrutiny. The women on this list all broke molds in their industries and did so with a high degree of honor and respect that has endured through the ages. A few of those remarkable trailblazers include:

Biddy Mason

1818 - 1891

Born into slavery, Biddy Mason defied the odds to find numerous successes in numerous areas. Ultimately becoming a noted real estate mogul, Mason's achievements are wide and varied, including her work as a nurse and the founder o the First African Methodist Episcopal Church. At the age of 48, Mason began purchasing property, amassing an incredible $300,000 (over $6 million today) fortune, making her the richest black woman west of the Mississippi. She successfully petitioned the court for her freedom and never stopped breaking the mold until her passing in 1891.

Clara Abbott

1857 - 1924

Historically, women have not had a representative place within corporate board structures, and Abbott Laboratories was the first company to have a female member of their board. Clara Abbott, wife of founder Wallace Abbott, found her place on the board before the company became publicly listed in 1924. Upon her passing, Abbott left 12k shares of stock to create a charity for the betterment of Abbott employees. The foundation endures to this day.

Marie Curie

1867 - 1934

Marie Curie's work as a physicist, particularly with the theory of radioactivity, changed the world and formed our understanding of radioactive materials and their uses. This groundbreaking work earned her two Nobel Prizes, making her the first woman to win a prize and the first person to win a second prize. To date, only 53 women (out of 919 Nobel laureates) have women the prize. Undoubtedly, her work has inspired countless women to pursue the sciences and to create significant advancement in any male-dominated field.

Coco Chanel

1883 - 1971

Known for her eponymous fashion house, Coco Chanel was a revolutionary in woman's clothing throughout her entire tenure in the industry. By introducing new materials, menswear-inspired silhouettes, and a foray into fragrance, she crafted an aesthetic that has endured and influenced world of fashion as we know it. The growth she was able to cultivate has made Chanel a leader in today's world, nearly 50 years after her death.

Estee Lauder

1908 - 2004

As we all know, industries that are designed to serve women--and those that feature female-dominated workforces--often have male-dominated management and executive teams. With her founding and management, Estee Lauder was able to create and run a successful cosmetics and skincare company. Starting with a small advertising budget, she formulated her own products and sold them independently as she grew her company into one of the most successful and largest purveyors of cosmetics.

Katharine Graham

1917 - 2001

Paving the way for so many female journalists and writers, Katharine Graham served as one of the most influential publishers of an American newspaper that stands strong to this day-- The Washington Post. Presiding over the paper from 1963 to 1991, she led the publication through the breaking of the Watergate scandal, leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. She was the first female Fortune 500 CEO in history and held the titles of president, publisher, and chairwoman of the board. Her memoir, Personal History, won a Pulitzer prize.

Sandra Day O'Connor

1930 -

Before Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, there was Sandra Day O'Connor. Nominated under the Regan administration, she was known for her fair and just decisions that were made consciously and often deviated from a strong party alignment. Her determination to prove that women had a place at the bench has been felt in further iterations of the court as well as in the progress of the study of law.

Oprah Winfrey

1954 -

Perhaps the most well-known name on this list, Oprah Winfrey is known the world over for her massive achievements, philanthropy, and the power that she has brought to African American women. The "Queen of the Media" became the richest African American of the 20th century as well as America's first black multi-billionaire. Over her career, she brought empathy to her pursuits in both business and on air, never straying from a mission to raise up others in groundbreaking ways.

Angela Merkel

1954 -

The undeniable influence of global politics on business cannot be denied and, as the de facto leader of the European Union, Angela Merkel has been one of the most powerful leaders of the free world during her tenure as Chancellor of Germany. She has prioritized the strengthening of economic relations both within the EU as well as across intercontinental boarders, managing turbulent times throughout the global economy. She has successfully served four terms as chancellor and has announced that she will not seek reelection in 2021, however she is currently the longest-serving head of the European Union to date.

Marilyn Hewson

1954 -

Topping Fortune's 2019 list of the world's most powerful women, Hewson is currently the CEO, chairman, and president of Lockheed-Martin, one of the most powerful defense companies in the world. Hewson's strategies have helped the company see significant growth and there's no question that her work has brought this company significant success. Since ascending to the role of CEO in 2013, Lockheed and Martin's market cap has doubled.

Ursula Burns

1958 -

Black women are notoriously absent from executive teams to this day and it was only in 2009 that Burns became the first back female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Her role at Xerox from 2009 to 2016 was a groundbreaking and successful tenure. She began working with the company in 1980 as san intern and ascended through the organization and following her time as CEO she remained chairwoman until 2017 when she left the company completely. She has served on numerous boards in some of the world's most recognizable companies, including American Express, Exonn Mobil, Nestle, Uber, and so many more.

Marissa Mayer

1975 -  

A prominent figure in technology, business, and executive leadership, Marissa Mayer is one of the most influential self-made women of our time. Working with some of the most well-known household companies, she retained notoriety for working as Google's first female engineer in the company's early days. She later served as CEO of Yahoo! And has since cofounded Lumi Labs, an incubator that studies AI and media intelligence.


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