It’s International Women’s Month and to celebrate, here’s a list of the most powerful and influential women in American history. This area includes politics, history and social issues, and does not include those in the entertainment and other sectors. Not all of them were wholly good or bad, but they influenced the nation anyway.
The list is in order of birth.
- Martha Washington (1731-1802)
Known For: First First Lady, Founding Mother and advocate for military
‘I am only fond of what comes from the heart.’
Martha Washington was the inaugural First Lady of the United States. She paved the way for the women who came after her despite having no predecessor to follow. Washington is remembered fondly as a Founding Mother who braved the Revolutionary camps to give aid to soldiers and rally their wives.
- Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
Known For: First Second Lady, Second First Lady, pro-women and anti-slavery thought, intellectualism
‘Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.’
Abigail Adams was another Founding Mother. She was an intellectual with strong convictions and a tendency to say what she thought. Adams encouraged women’s rights and anti-abolitionism when both were very taboo. No Her letters to her beloved husband give us so much information about both them and the time period she lived in. Perhaps she would have been President had she been a man.
- Sacagawea (c.1788-unknown)
Known For: Guide, envoy and linguist on the Lewis and Clark Expedition
‘Everything I do is for my people.’
Sacagawea travelled thousands of miles in unknown territory with a baby on a back, in an expedition that informed our understanding of the United States. She was only a teenager herself but provided the expedition with her knowledge and savvy. Sacagawea contributed greatly to the study of nature. Sadly, her whereabouts after the expedition are unknown, but she remains a remarkable figure.
- Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)
Known For: Suffrage movement, women’s rights and abolitionist
‘I am no advocate of passivity.’
Lucretia Mott’s push for suffrage brought the whole movement into the mainstream. She was also an ardent abolitionist who sheltered runaway slaves. Mott co-organised the Seneca Falls Convention and signed the Declaration of Sentiments. Though Mott died thirty years before the 19th Amendment, her work helped bring it to life.
- Sojourner Truth (c. 1797-1893)
Known For: Abolitionist and women’s rights
‘And ain’t I a woman?’
Sojourner Truth’s early life gave no indication of the greatness she’d reach. Truth was born a slave, raped by her owner from her early teens, bore a son from said rape and was forced away from the man she loved. After she escaped, Truth became one of the strongest activists in the country. She spoke passionately for abolitionism, civil rights and equality of the sexes. Truth lived to see the abolition of slavery and became an icon in her own right.
- Dorothea Dix (1802-1887)
Known For: Nursing and advocate for the mentally ill
‘Every evil has its good, and every ill an antidote.’
The treatment of the mentally ill has come leaps and bounds over the years, but it maybe wouldn’t have without Dorothea Dix. After seeing the poor treatment and horrible conditions of the mentally ill, Dix fought hard across America and Europe for reform. She pushed for both funding and reform. Dix went all the way to the Vatican and personally spoke to the Pope. During the Civil War, Dix organised the Union nurses and fought for them to be allowed to care for the soldiers. Dix’s support for the mentally ill was deep and far-reaching.
- Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Known For: Abolitionist and author
‘Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.’
It’s reported that when Abraham Lincoln met Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet Beecher Stowe, he remarked ‘so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.’ Whether or not the story is true, there’s no doubt that Stowe had an impact. The book caused a wave of new support for abolitionism as well as a fierce backlash from slave owners. It was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and was widely known. Whilst modern day readers may wince at the book, it’s still obvious that Stowe gave the abolitionist cause a push.
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902)
Known For: Suffrage movement, women’s rights, temperance movement and abolitionist
‘Truth is the only safe ground to stand upon.’
If there was a cause in the 19th century, Elizabeth Cady Stanton was on board. Stanton championed abolitionism, suffrage, temperance and women’s rights. She angered traditionalists by pushing for divorce rights and women wearing bloomers. She helped organise the Seneca Falls Convention and was the primary author of the Declaration of Sentiments. Stanton also alienated African-American allies with her racist language and views. Despite her controversial nature, Stanton remains a well-known figure who pushed for suffrage and women’s rights.
- Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
Known For: Suffrage movement, women’s rights, temperance movement and abolitionist
‘Woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself.’
Susan B. Anthony was the first woman depicted on US coinage, which gives you an idea of her importance and influence. Anthony was one of the strongest campaigners for suffrage in the country, dedicating over fifty years to the cause. She split with other suffragists when they chose not to support African-Americans and had a very progressive view of race for her era. In 1872, Anthony was famously arrested for trying to vote. She was fined but never paid. Ultimately, Anthony would become one of the most respected women of her time and an influential woman in American history.
- Clara Barton (1821-1912)
Known For: Nursing, teaching, and founding the American Red Cross
‘I may be compelled to face danger, but never fear it, and while our soldiers can stand and fight, I can stand and feed and nurse them.’
Clara Barton never trained formally as a nurse, yet her impact on the profession knew no bounds. She started life as a teacher, though she had tended to her injured brother when she was younger. Barton was working as a copyist when the American Civil War broke out. She immediately rushed to a nearby train station to nurse the wounded. Over the course of the war, Barton became both nurse and organiser, managing and gaining medical supplies whilst caring for the wounded. After the war, she ran the Office of Missing Soldiers. In 1881, Barton founded the American Red Cross, an organisation that still exists to this day. Her fearless humanitarian work impacted the country greatly.
- Harriet Tubman (c.1822-1913)
Known For: Abolitionist and suffrage movement
‘I started with this idea in my head, ‘There’s two things I’ve got a right to, death or liberty.’
If anyone on this list could be described as ‘extraordinary,’ Harriet Tubman would surely be that person. Born a slave, whipped and injured and separated from her family, Tubman would eventually escape in 1849. She would soon work with the Underground Railroad and lead a series of daring rescues that saved around seventy people. During the Civil War, Tubman led an armed assault that would rescue 750 slaves. She would eventually get a pension for her war work, but not the full amount she should have received as a scout and spy. Tubman became active in the suffrage movement in her later years despite poor health. Over one hundred years after her death, Tubman remains a figure of much admiration and is revered for her impact.
- Victoria Woodhull (1838-1927)
Known For: First female presidential candidate
‘Denounce me for advocating freedom if you can, and I will bear your curse with a better resignation.’
Victoria Woodhull was one unorthodox lady. She was an advocate for free love in a rather conservative era. In 1872, she took the unusual step of running for the presidency under the Equal Rights Party banner. Woodhull’s views were extremely radical, even for today, and there was no chance of her winning, but her candidacy inspired the suffrage movement. She’s remembered for her unorthodox activism.
- Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911)
Known For: Temperance
‘I felt invincible. My strength was that of a giant. God was certainly standing by me. I smashed five saloons with rocks before I ever took a hatchet.’
The temperance movement was a popular one with women in the 19th and 20th centuries, but no one took it to the extreme that Carrie A. Nation did. Her first husband left her widowed after two years of marriage due to alcoholism. Nation became ardently anti-alcohol, believing it was entirely harmful. She would become famous for smashing up bars with a hatchet. Nation would raise money with lectures, which she often needed to pay fines upon being arrested. Despite dying eight years before Prohibition became official with the Eighteenth Amendment, Nation is remembered for bringing the cause to a whole new level.
- Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)
Known For: Suffrage
‘Everyone counts in applying democracy.’
One of the most famous suffragists in America, Carrie Chapman Catt was at the centre of the movement in the most essential years. Catt became involved in the late 1880s before being elected president of the National American Woman Suffrage in 1900. She served two terms, the second of which was from 1915-1920. In those crucial years, Catt rallied supporters and strategically encouraged them to support the war in order to show patriotism. Her tireless work, and that of others, helped bring about the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. She would also found the League of Women Voters after the amendment, encouraging women to go out and vote. Catt undoubtedly influenced American politics.
- Ida B. Wells (1862-1931)
Known For: Journalist, civil rights activist, anti-lynching campaigner, suffragist and teacher
‘The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them.’
Born into slavery, Ida B. Wells defied the odds to become a household name. When she was only 22, Wells sued a railroad company who had tried to force her out of the first class ladies’ car. Wells was a teacher but was fired because of her views. She then became a full-time journalist. Over the years, Wells would write many scathing critiques of Jim Crow laws and segregation in general. Her most notable campaign was against lynching, which came about after friends of hers were killed. Wells’ campaigns reached the North and as far away as the United Kingdom, both area with little knowledge of lynching. She is today remembered as a formidable campaigner and suffragist.
- Jane Addams (1863-1935)
Known For: Reformer, social worker, suffrage supporter and co-founder of Hull House
‘Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all men.’
From a young age, Jane Addams believed strongly in helping the less fortunate. She would become famous for founding Hull House in Chicago, a hub for poor and newly arrived immigrants. Hull House was revolutionary for its extensive services and use of healthcare techniques not widely used. Addams’ activities revolutionised social work and reform in America, leaving a sparkling legacy. She not only received an honorary degree from Yale, becoming the first woman to achieve this, but also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931.
- Nellie Bly (1864-1922)
Known For: Investigative journalist and traveler
‘Energy rightly applied can accomplish anything.’
At the age of 21, Elizabeth Cochran, better known as Nellie Bly, started her career as an investigative journalist. After being banished to the women’s section of the paper, Bly spent six months in Mexico. In 1887, Bly underwent her most famous assignment. She faked insanity to get herself committed to an asylum. Bly acted normally for the ten days she was inside. After being sprung, Bly wrote her famous exposé Ten Days in a Mad-House. The impact was huge, as it made Bly a star and encouraged reform. In 1889, Bly took a 72-day trip around the world. She would continue her work until her death in 1922. Bly opened the door for female investigative journalists.
- Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
Known For: Founder of Planned Parenthood and birth control advocate
‘Woman must not accept; she must challenge.’
A hero to some and villain for others, Margaret Sanger nevertheless had a huge impact on American society. She openly advocated for birth control when it was illegal and opened the first clinic in the United States. Sanger founded what would later become Planned Parenthood. Controversy arose in later years as people began to criticise her views on eugenics, which included mandatory sterilisation. Her views on race were also an issue. Despite her polarised reception, Sanger’s work would influence American society and create a debate that is still talked about today.
- Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)
Known For: First woman to hold federal office (House of Representatives)
‘If I am remembered for no other act, I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.’
Jeannette Rankin went from fighting for the vote to becoming the first woman to hold federal office. In her first term, Rankin was one of 50 members of the House of Representatives to vote against America’s entry into WW1. In her second term, she was the only member of Congress to vote against America’s entry into WW2. Rankin is remembered for her advocacy as well as her important position.
- Helen Keller (1880-1962)
Known For: Disability rights campaigner, deaf-blind and political campaigner
‘Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.’
Helen Keller was only a child when a disease left her deaf-blind. Through the help of Anne Sullivan, Keller began to communicate with the world. For decades, Keller supported a number of radical political causes and travelled the world. In 1904, she graduated from Radcliffe College. Keller’s work broadened public understanding of disability and made her one of the most famous women in the United States.
- Frances Perkins (1882-1965)
Known For: First woman to hold a Cabinet position (Labor)
‘The people are what matter to government, and a government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.’
Frances Perkins already had a storied career before she was tapped by Franklin D. Roosevelt to become a member of his Cabinet. Perkins served as FDR’s Secretary of Labor for his entire term. This also made her the first woman to hold a Cabinet position. Labor Secretary was a hugely powerful position at the time due to FDR’s New Deal program. Perkins nearly always had the president’s support. Her success in her policy goals mean that many of the issues she supported in her time remain today.
- Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
Known For: First Lady, political campaigner and activist
‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’
America’s longest serving First Lady remains one of the most remembered to this day. Even before her time as a presidential spouse, Roosevelt was a fighter. As First Lady, Roosevelt championed women and minority civil rights. Her insistence on women-only press conferences forced newspapers to hire more women. After the war, Roosevelt helped write the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. When she died, she was eulogised as ‘The First Lady of the World.’
- Alice Paul (1885-1977)
Known For: Suffrage movement, women’s rights and campaigner for the 19th Amendment.
‘I always feel the movement is a sort of mosaic. Each of us puts in one little stone, and then you get a great mosaic at the end.’
A well-educated woman, Alice Paul devoted herself to the suffrage movement in the U.K. before returning home to the United States. Her devotion to the movement saw her beaten and arrested several times. Paul was one of the key leaders in the push for the Nineteenth Amendment. Later in life, Paul ensured women became a protected class in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Her work made America more open to women.
- Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995)
Known For: First woman to serve both Houses of Congress and first woman to be on a major party convention ballot
‘The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.’
Margaret Chase Smith first won her congressional seat in a special election following the death of her husband. Smith soon proved a formidable politician on her own terms. She won re-election on her own back before being elected to the Senate. Smith was known as a moderate. In 1964, Smith threw her hat in the ring for the presidency. Despite not going far, Smith was the first woman to be on a major party convention ballot. Due to her years of public service, Smith solidified her place in history.
- Clare Boothe Luce (1903-1987)
Known For: Politician, author, journalist, reporter, ambassador and writer
‘Courage is the ladder on which all other virtues mount.’
Clare Boothe Luce was a woman of many talents. Initially known for her writing, especially for her popular play The Women, Luce would later enter politics. She was a member of Congress before becoming Ambassador to Italy. A devout Catholic, Luce would use her phenomenally powerful public speaking skills to stump for Republican candidates. Her legacy lives on in scholarships for women in STEM and a foundation named for her, devoted to conservative women.
- Ella Baker (1903-1986)
Known For: Civil rights campaigner
‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.’
In a campaign where the men are most remembered, Ella Baker was one of the most important women in the civil rights movement. From a young age, Baker fought for the rights of African-Americans. She was a member of several of the most prominent advocacy groups in the nation. Baker helped devise the sit-in protests. She did not seek the spotlight and much preferred grassroots campaigning. Her legacy is one of a better world.
- Rachel Carson (1907-1964)
Known For: Environmental activism
‘In nature nothing exists alone.’
Initially known for her work as a biologist and nature writer, Rachel Carson’s most influential work came out in 1962. Silent Spring was an expose on how pesticides were harming the environment. Despite pushback from major companies, the book managed to ban certain pesticides in agriculture and would help bring about the Environmental Protection Agency. Carson’s work is regarded as hugely important in environmentalism.
- Rosa Parks (1913-2005)
Known For: Civil rights campaigner and inciting the Montgomery Bus Boycott
‘You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.’
Rosa Parks had a long history of activism before her famous refusal to move from her bus seat. Whilst she was not the first to do it, Parks was the most famous. Her action helped inspire the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a hugely successful campaign that eventually saw integrated services. Parks would remain an icon in the civil rights champion and an activist all her life. She is one of America’s most famous women.
- Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
Known For: Civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus
‘Nobody’s free until everyone’s free.’
Fannie Lou Hamer was not like many others in the civil rights movement. Mocked for her accent and lack of education, Hamer was actually an authentic speaker with a lot of work behind her. She fought hard for the right to vote and suffered for this. Hamer was shot at, fired, beaten and attacked for her advocacy. Despite this, her work cannot be overstated.
- Betty Ford (1918-2011)
Known For: First Lady, breast cancer awareness and anti-addiction work
‘I don’t look at what I’ve lost. I look instead at what I have left.’
First Ladies have ranged from the traditional to unconventional. Betty Ford was definitely in the latter category. The famously outspoken Ford gave her opinion on anything and everything. She spoke out about breast cancer, encouraging thousands of women to get checked. Ford also spoke out about her addiction and helped create the Betty Ford Clinic. She brought hidden issues into the mainstream and encouraged those silently suffering to seek help.
- Betty Friedan (1921-2006)
Known For: Writer of The Feminine Mystique and co-founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW)
‘A girl should not expect special privileges because of her sex but neither should she adjust to prejudice and discrimination.’
Betty Friedan is credited as being one of the leaders of second wave feminism in the United States. In 1963, she published The Feminine Mystique. The book criticised society’s expectations that women, especially highly educated ones, remain at home. Friedan continued to fight for equality, co-founding NOW and pushing for the ERA. She is remembered for mobilising many women in the second wave feminist era, though she would later criticise extremism in the movement.
- Patricia Robert Harris (1924-1985)
Known For: The first woman to serve in two Cabinet roles and first African-American woman in the Cabinet and in an ambassadorial role
‘If my life has any meaning at all, it is that those who start out as outcasts can wind up as being part of the system.’
Patricia Robert Harris was a woman of firsts. She was the first African-American woman to serve in the Cabinet, be a US Ambassador, to be a dean of a law school and sit on a Fortune 500 company board. Harris was a successful cabinet member in both departments she served in. One of her chief campaigns was slim clearance. She is not well-known compared to others on this list, but she had a lot of influence on American life.
- Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016)
Known For: Anti-Equal Rights Amendment advocacy
‘American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived on the face of the earth. We can do anything we want to do.’
Whilst the feminist movement was expanding in the 60s and 70s, there was pushback. Phyllis Schlafly opposed the ERA, concerned that it would not recognise the differences between men and women, as well as punish homemakers. Her strong campaign saw the ERA defeated. Schlafly has become the standard bearer for anti-feminism and her ideas still have followers today.
- Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Known For: First black and black female candidate for a major party
‘If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.’
Shirley Chisholm faced obstacles from several angles as she attempted to start politics as a career as a woman, which she said caused her more problems than being black. Throughout her career, Chisholm worked to help the poor and working class. In 1972, Chisholm ran for President. Whilst her campaign was not successful, she was special in that she was the first black and black female candidate for a major party, as well as the first woman for the Democrats. Chisholm would later be a fierce advocate for the ERA. Her legacy is one of record breaking.
- Jeane Kirkpatrick (1926-2006)
Known For: Reagan foreign policy advisor and first female US Ambassador to the UN
‘I was a woman in a man’s world.’
Tough and uncompromising, Jeane Kirkpatrick was ardently anti-communist. Despite being a Democrat, Kirkpatrick was chosen by Reagan to be his UN Ambassador. She would later join the GOP. Kirkpatrick tended to support authoritarian regimes if they were American allies. Despite resigning as ambassador after only one term, Kirkpatrick continued in foreign policy. Her actions contributed to international relations for years to come.
- Jacqueline Kennedy (1929-1994)
Known For: First Lady and promotion of the arts
‘I am a woman above everything else.’
Jacqueline Kennedy was not known for her politics, but she was certainly an important woman. A hugely popular First Lady, Kennedy encouraged a cultural renaissance and took Americans around the White House in a famous broadcast. Despite being known for her elegance and clothes, Kennedy was a talented, multilingual diplomat who charmed the world leaders who disliked her husband. She set the standard for her successors and worked hard in preserving historical landmarks.
- Sandra Day O’Connor (1930-)
Known For: First woman on the SCOTUS
‘We don’t accomplish anything in this world alone.’
Sandra Day O’Connor found it tough to get a job when she first graduated law school, yet found her way onto the Supreme Court. As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, O’Connor made judgements on a variety of cases that would affect America. O’Connor generally held conservative views, but was a moderate who worked with the liberal wing. At the time of writing, O’Connor is retired from public life due to age and poor health.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)
Known For: Associate Justice of the Supreme Court and women’s rights activist
‘I don’t say women’s rights—I say the constitutional principle of the equal citizenship stature of men and women.’
Nicknamed ‘The Notorious R.B.G,’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s years on the Supreme Court made her a powerful woman. Even before this, Ginsburg made a name for herself as an advocate for women. Ginsburg spent her twenty-seven years on the court espousing liberal rulings. Upon her death, Ginsburg became the first woman to lay in state at the Capitol.
- Dianne Feinstein (1933-)
Known For: Long-standing Senator
‘We’re not perfect, and there are some dark patches in our past, but what makes us special is that we recognize these evils, we come to grips with them, and we fix them.’
Dianne Feinstein started political life in San Francisco, moving up to become mayor of the city. For over thirty years, Feinstein has been a Senator. She has chaired many Senate committees and been a part of key legislation. Feinstein plans to retire, but it’s sure that her lengthy service will be a part of her legacy.
- Gloria Steinem (1934-)
Known For: Journalist and women’s rights activist
‘Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.’
Gloria Steinem remains one of the most famous feminist activists in America. Her exposé on the conditions of the Playboy Bunnies was an early example of the activism she would become famous for. In 1972, Steinem co-founded Ms. magazine. During this time, Steinem would become one of the leaders of the second wave movement. One of her particular areas of interest was abortion. Steinem is still active today, but she is divisive among the movement.
- Madeleine Albright (1937-2022)
Known For: UN Ambassador and First female Secretary of State
‘The main thing is to remain oneself, under any circumstances; that was and is our common purpose.’
Born in Czechoslovakia and raised in London, Madeleine Albright came from a family of diplomats. She served as the US Ambassador to the UN during Clinton’s first administration. Albright would see both the Rwandan genocide and the failed mission in Somalia in this time. She would become Secretary of State in the second Clinton administration. Important events during this time included the embassy bombings and the USS Cole attack. For eight years, Albright was one of the biggest influencers in foreign policy. She remained controversial but there is no doubt that the power she held was real.
- Janet Reno (1938-2016)
Known For: First female Attorney General of the US
‘I’m not fancy. I’m what I appear to be.’
Janet Reno was one of the longest serving Attorney General in the US, serving for both of Clinton’s terms. Many extremely important judicial and legal events occurred during her tenure- the prosecution of those who did the Atlanta and Oklahoma bombings, the case of Elián González and the siege of Waco. Reno was a polarising figure throughout her entire legal career, but the influence she had was widespread.
- Nancy Pelosi (1940-)
Known For: First female elected Speaker of the House of Representatives
‘I’ve never walked away from any of my positions. I take pride in them.’
A Congresswoman since 1987, Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2007. During her two terms, Pelosi would push for major legislation such as Dodd–Frank and Inflation Reduction Act. She also oversaw both Donald Trump impeachment trials. Pelosi is essentially the leader of the Democratic Party, even though her party is no longer the majority. Her legislative activities will be her primary legacy.
- Hillary Clinton (1947-)
Known For: First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and first woman to lead a major party ticket
‘Human rights are women’s rights and women’s rights are human rights.’
Hillary Clinton has dominated the American landscape for thirty years now. She has been First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State and Presidential candidate, which means she’s had a lot of influence and power. As Senator for New York, Clinton was in power during 9/11. As Secretary of State, the War on Terror was in full swing and Osama Bin Laden would be assassinated. Clinton continues with her work and is probably the most well-known woman in America.
- Elaine Chao (1953-)
Known For: Member of the Cabinet in two administrations and first Asian-American woman in the Cabinet
‘As I looked up at the Statue of Liberty, I thought at that time, ‘What a wonderful country.’
Born in Taiwan, Elaine Chao arrived in America at the age of eight. After a career in business, Chao entered government. Chao had roles under Reagan and Bush 41 before being made Secretary of Labor under Bush 43. She was in this role for the entirety of his presidency. In 2017, she became Secretary of Transport for the Trump administration. Chao has an entrenched role in conservative politics.
- Condoleezza Rice (1954-)
Known For: First African-American Female Secretary of State and first female/African-American female National Security Advisor
‘The day has to come when it’s not a surprise that a woman has a powerful position.’
Condoleezza Rice grew up in Jim Crow Birmingham, Alabama, where one of her classmates was a victim in the horrific 16th Street bombing. After an academic career, Rice entered politics. She was the National Security Advisor for Bush 43’s first term, presiding over the era of 9/11 and the early War on Terror. In his second administration, Rice was an influential Secretary of State. Rice continues her work in policy.
- Michelle Obama (1964-)
Known For: First Lady and campaigner
‘You don’t have to be somebody different to be important. You’re important in your own right.’
As the first African-American First Lady, Michelle Obama was always going to have a large profile. Educated at two Ivy League colleges, Obama was reportedly not happy about her husband running, but seemed to get into her new role. As First Lady Obama touted a variety of schemes and travelled the world with her husband. Post-office, there have been pushes to get Obama running for office but she declined. Obama continues her advocacy.
- Sarah Palin (1964-)
Known For: Governor of Alaska and first female Republican ticket mate
‘We need leaders who will stand up for the little guy and listen once again.’
Sarah Palin was a political unknown until John McCain tapped her to be his running mate in 2008. Palin is unique for her energy and excitement, likely a reason why the older McCain chose her. Though the ticket failed, Palin has continued her political career. She’s an advocate for the Tea Party movement as well as Donald Trump.
- Kamala Harris (1964-)
Known For: First female Vice President
‘The American Dream belongs to all of us.’
Kamala Harris is the highest ranking woman in American political history. Originally a Senator from California, Harris was Joe Biden’s ticket mate in their successful 2020 run. As the first female VP, Harris has received a lot of attention. She also seems to have more power than many vice presidents had. Harris has been floated as a potential successor to Biden in 2028.
- Nikki Haley (1972-)
Known For: US Ambassador to the UN and first Indian-American member of the Cabinet
‘With all due respect, I don’t get confused.’
Governor of South Carolina initially, Nikki Haley became Trump’s UN Ambassador. In the role, Haley was representing America during a crucial era of foreign relations. She remained active after her time in office and has recently announced she is running for President. Time will tell if Haley becomes the first female President so we can only guess what’s to come.