Pauli Murray


photo by Schlesinger Library / Radcliffe Institute / Harvard University

Pauli Murray was a civil rights and women’s rights activist, a poet, a lawyer, an author, and an Episcopal priest (the first African American woman to be ordained). She was friends with Langston Hughes in her youth and Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her adult life. She also a co-founder of the National Organization for Women with Betty Friedan. Her top school choices for undergraduate and law schools denied her because of her race or gender, and yet she still persisted and kicked ass at Howard University; her senior thesis directly helped Thurgood Marshall in Brown vs. Board of Education. She was appointed to the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women by President John. F. Kennedy. In 1965 she co-authored “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII”, which was so influential that Ruth Bader Ginsburg listed her as a co-author in her Reed vs. Reed brief.

The more I read about Pauli Murray, the more my head spins. She was so incredibly ahead of her times and yet did not let that stop her from laying down the foundations to help the later civil rights and women’s rights movements.

Further (wonderful) Reading:

The Many Lives of Pauli Murray – The New Yorker

Here’s The Perfect Candidate To Replace North Carolina’s Racist Silent Sam Statue – Huffington Post

Rachel Ignotofsky


Photo by Thomas Mason IV

Designer and Illustrator Rachel Ignotofsky was briefly mentioned in an earlier post when talking about her book Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World. Well, she’s back at it again with her new book Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to Win.

I loved to read when I was young (a passion that I’m glad is still alive and well). Looking back, I don’t recall too many of my fiction books having a protagonist that wasn’t male (talking animal books included), or ones that delved into the wonderful history of great female pioneers. How sad is that?! I’m so happy to see more and more children books detailing female badass world-shakers that can be enjoyed by both girls and boys. I am very quickly building up a collection for my future children and hope that they are just as passionate about reading as I was, and that it will be normal for them to have role models of every gender, race, and religion.


Rachel has an Etsy store, if you’d like to check it out

Susan Collins & Lisa Murkowski


Short and sweet today:

Because. They. Were. The. Only. Ones. That. Tried. To. Stop. This. Nonsense.

Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) were the only GOP senators to vote “No” across the board during the recent Health Care circus that was the Republican repeal efforts; including a “No” for the Better Care Reconciliation Act, which would have increased the number of uninsured Americans by 22 million in 2026 relative to current law as estimated by The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). Psssst, John McCain voted “Yes”

While I don’t share a lot of their views in terms of governance, these two women are true mavericks.

Laverne Cox


In 2014, the ridiculously talented Laverne Cox was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a daytime Emmy for her portrayal of Sophia Bush in Orange Is the New Black. If you’re one of the five people to haven’t yet seen the Netflix show, I highly recommend it. One month earlier, she was the first openly transgender person to be on the cover of Time magazine. Aside from being a great actress, she is also a dedicated activist for the LGBT community, receiving the Stephen F. Kolzak Award by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) in 2014, given to “openly LGBT people who have made a significant difference in promoting equality for the community”.

Further Reading:

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people – Salon

Laverne Cox Is the First Transgender Person Nominated for an Emmy — She Explains Why That Matters – Time

Sam Gordon


Image via YouTube 

Sam Gordon took the internet by storm in November of 2012 when a highlight reel of her torching competition in little league football went viral. Juking and shedding tackles, Sam almost had a 2,000yd season, proving not only that young girls can hang with the boys in the sport, but that they could also excel.



Now entering high school, Sam has filed a Title IX lawsuit to try to force her local school and others in the county to create an all-girls league and allow her to continue to play with other girls who are also passionate about football. Sam has already proven that the desire is there: two years ago she helped start an all-girls rec league. 50 girls immediately started playing, and the number quickly grew to over 200. Like Sam, 105 of those girls will be eligible to play in high school this coming year.

Malala Yousafzai


Image via

I raise up my voice-not so I can shout but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back” – Malala Yousafzai

Education advocate Malala Yousafzai had already received international recognition when she was nominated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu to receive the International Children’s Prize of Peace in October of 2011. Two months later, she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. Encouraging girls via her blog to resist extremism by going to school, she drew the ire of the Taliban. On October 9, 2012, gunmen boarded her school van in an assassination attempt. Malala was shot in the head and neck, but survived the ordeal and was thrust even more so into the international spotlight.

Malala has since founded the Malala Fund (non-profit), which raises money for education initiatives for young girls. She is also the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, winning the award as a co-recipient in 2014 at the age of 17. Now 20, Malala has recently joined Twitter to announce that she has finished high school, and to remind people how absolutely amazing she is.

Further Reading: I Am Malala

Penny Marshall


Penny Marshall is an actress, directer and producer. Her first well-known role was as a guest appearance on Happy Days as LaVerne DeFazio. The character was so well liked that it started the successful spin off, Laverne & Shirley. What makes Penny Marshall a baddass in my book, however, is her career as a director.

Penny was the directer of Big (1988) starring Tom Hanks. Fun fact: Big was the first movie directed by a woman to gross more than $100 million at the domestic box office. She went on direct Awakenings (1990), which was nominated for Best Picture. Finally, she directed one of the best baseball movies of all time, A League of Their Own (1992).

A League of Their Own developed from a documentary of the same name, detailing the women’s baseball league that formed during WWII, and the movie just celebrated its 25th anniversary. My family and I like to rank movies, and one of our favorite go-to talking points is to Name the Best (insert sport) Movie. Best Baseball Movie is probably the most heated, with The Sandlot, Major League, Field of Dreams, and The Natural all being thrown out there… but you just can’t beat A League of Their Own. Even the original tagline is completely amazing – “This summer, Tom Hanks and the Rockford Peaches prove that a woman’s place is at home … first, second & third.” And because I have to:

Also, Dottie totally dropped the ball on purpose and nobody can convince me otherwise.

Finally. here’s a fantastic read on the movie’s 25th anniversary:

A League of Their Own Stands the Test of Time – espnW

Kimberly Bryant


Science and Technology is cool and fun (and if you’ve noticed past #WCW submissions, you know that I greatly admire women who kick ass in STEM fields). In the US, 74% of girls in middle school like STEM and are interested in it. By the time these girls get to high school, only 0.4% of them say that they plan to major in Computer Science. Enter Kimberly Bryant.

Kimberly is the founder of Black Girls Code, a non-profit that strives to introduce coding to young girls of color at a time when they are naturally thinking the age-old question: what do I want to be when I grow up?

Related reading/sites:

GM CEO Mary Barra says the world needs more coders – CNN

Black Girls Code

Made with Code

Hour of Code

Kamala Harris


Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) is the latest woman of Congress to be interrupted and silenced by her male colleagues for trying to effectively do her job, in this latest instance as a member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee. After making Attorney General Jeff Sessions “nervous” with her on point questions (showing that grit that made her an effective prosecutor), she was later called “hysterical” by a CNN commentator and former Trump surrogate. Although it’s upsetting to see workplace sexism so casually on public display, you can be damn sure that Kamala Harris will not back down. ‘Nevertheless, she persisted’


The Universal Phenomenon of Men Interrupting Women – The New York Times, which got on my radar via The Daily Cooler

You can try to silence women of color in Congress, but it won’t work – Vox

Casey Spelman


Facebook/Ryan Hamilton

Earlier this month, Casey Spelman went viral on social media after an onlooker spotted her helping a blind Chicago Cubs fan hail a cab after a game (he had been trying to for several minutes without luck). Casey was quickly tracked down after photos were posted to Facebook, and her small act of kindness is a reminder that we can all help make the world a little better by recognizing the humanity in others.

“It’s OK if you are unsure of how to interact with someone, but do your best, be brave, and just be willing to help. I think if you treat someone with respect it will always be appreciated.” – Casey