Three Inspirational Women You Should Know About
Throughout history, brave women broke with convention, taking on roles deemed ‘inappropriate’ for their time or culture. Many of their names have been lost. Here are the stories of three inspirational women you’ve probably never heard of, who overcame expectations to be demure and ‘behave.’
Margaret Anstee: Turning the United Nations Upside Down
Dame Margaret Joan Anstee was the first female Undersecretary General at the United Nations. She tells her story in her autobiography, Never Learn to Type. Born in 1926, she grew up when women were expected to be demure, get married, and have babies. Then came the Second World War. Everything changed – but not really. Anstee did get a degree and begin a career in the Foreign Office. She had to give it up when she married, according to the rules of the time. Her husband worked for the UN and they moved repeatedly, until the marriage fell apart. In a tough personal situation, Anstee took a job in the UN that eventually led her to Latin America, Asia and Africa, in roles of increasing responsibility. Filled with anecdotes that will make you think, grumble, and laugh out loud, this remarkable autobiography is a must-read.
Pauline Frederick: Front Line Reporter
Pauline Frederick reported on the United Nations when women usually reported only on style, cooking, and homemaking. For 10 years, she was the only female network correspondent at NBC (or any of the 3 American networks). Although she was highly respected, Pauline was not a household name like her male peers, David Brinkely and Chet Huntley. Born in 1920s Pennsylvania, Pauline moved from print to radio to television. She reported on the aftermath of World War II, the Cold War, United Nations activities, and American politics, even moderating a presidential debate. She deftly walked the fine line between tough reporter and ‘respectable lady.’ Her biography, Pauline Frederick Reporting, by Marilyn Greenwald, tells the story of this largely forgotten trailblazer. Meet the woman who cleared the way for women from Barbara Walters and Katie Couric to Christian Amanpour and Nima Elbagir.
Madeleine Kunin: Politics as a Way of Life
Madeleine Kunin was one of the first women in the US to become governor. She served 3 terms as Vermont’s first female governor, from 1985-1991. In her autobiography, Living a Political Life, she opens up about learning to govern and blazing a path for other women to follow. She tells the truth as she lived it about carving a new model for female leadership in government. Honest and insightful, Kunin talks about mentoring, impostor syndrome, and juggling life and work in a very public setting. Unlike many politicians, she chose not to stand for re-election though still politically strong. Rather than fade into obscurity, she went on to serve as the US Ambassador to Switzerland from 1996-1999.
Each of these women broke new ground in her own way. They ignored society’s strictures, or worked around them, creating influential, useful lives. Discovering their stories is like finding new mentors and role models. Let’s bring these unsung heroines back to life. Share their names and spread the word!
Images via www.wikipedia.com