Since March is Women’s History Month, I am highlighting books about some of the fabulous women who have left their mark on the world. I chose two First Ladies, an Underground Railroad conductor, a scientist whose work will revolutionize medicine, two Supreme Court justices, and a mathematician whose calculations sent men around the moon.
Here are 6 books about these pioneering women.
Becoming by Michelle Obama
While she made history as the first black First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama accomplished so much more during the 8 years she served in that role. Focusing on empowering women and girls in the United States and abroad, Obama advocated for healthier lifestyles for children, the importance of putting family first, and ensuring she was viewed not only as Barack Obama’s spouse but as an independent, intelligent woman in her own right. Becoming takes the reader back to her early years and finishes after the Obama’s historic time in the White House.
2020 Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Douna’s contributions to the world will not be fully known for years and possibly decades, but her development with collaborator Emmanuelle Charpentier of CRISPR, an easy-to-use gene-editing technology, is revolutionizing modern science and medicine. Following this life-changing creation dubbed “the most important biological advance since … the discovery of the structure of DNA”, Douna, a biochemist and genescientist, has worked to tackle the moral issues associated with the invention, balancing the ability to better fight off new viruses such as the coronavirus, help prevent depression, and even allowing parents to choose a child’s gender, intelligence, or eye color.
Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton
Born Araminta, Tubman christened herself “Harriet” after her mother when she was freed, signaling the new life she wanted for herself. Harriet Tubman is well known for her remarkable efforts as a “conductor” on the Underground Railroad who helped ferry hundreds of slaves to freedom, but she also worked as a spy and nurse during the Civil War, and participated in the suffrage movement and helped found homes for poor and infirmed people of color following the war. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom shines a light on Tubman’s many courageous and immeasurable contributions to American history.
Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight by Julia Sweig
Lady Bird Johnson: Hiding in Plain Sight seeks to correct the misconception that Claudia Alta “Lady Bird” Johnson’s role as First Lady was uneventful by documenting her many contributions while in office. From the incredible strategy memo she created for Lyndon Johnson when he was debating whether to run for president in his own right to managing the White House during one of the country’s most tumultuous decades, Lady Bird served as one of her husband’s most respected and valued political consultants. She was also the first First Lady to treat the East Wing as a professional office, creating her own initiatives including pursuing comprehensive environmental protections and encouraging women to pursue their own careers. Julia Sweig provides a new understanding of Lady Bird’s legacy including her important progress on environmental, racial, and women’s issues.
My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir by Katherine Johnson
Thanks to the Hidden Figures book and movie, most people today are familiar with Katherine Johnson and her significant mathematical contributions that allowed the United States to win the Space Race by launching the initial and subsequent U.S.-manned trips around and then later to the moon. In this memoir completed before she died in February 2020 at the age of 101, Johnson recounts her hundred years from her childhood in the Alleghany Mountains of West Virginia to her pioneering years at NASA and beyond. My Remarkable Journey: A Memoir also documents a century of racial history, including the role that her family and black educators played in advancing her trailblazing and historical life.
Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World by Linda R. Hirshman
Other than serving as the first and second female Supreme Court justices, on the surface Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg have very little in common—different political parties, backgrounds, and religions. However, these two trailblazing women developed a lasting friendship and ultimately transformed the legal framework of countless issues affecting women, including employment discrimination, sexual harassment, affirmative action and other issues impacting women’s day-to-day lives. Sisters in Law: How Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg Went to the Supreme Court and Changed the World highlights the obstacles both women faced and their ultimate triumph over them to serve as the first and second female Supreme Court justices.