A Brief History
On May 21, 1881, Clara Barton established the American Red Cross in Washington, DC. A nurse, teacher and patent clerk, Barton left the legacy of the Red Cross for all Americans that had no one else to turn to in time of crisis, whether man-made or natural disaster. Additionally, the Red Cross is instrumental in teaching First Aid and CPR classes as well as gathering and distributing most of the blood supply in the US. Like Clara Barton, many other women have risen to the top of their profession, sport, or field as a leader for men and women to follow. Last year, on May 21, 2014 we ran an article titled 10 Women on Top of Their Field, and now we are naming 10 more preeminent females.
10. Christy Walton, Megawealth.
One of the Walmart Waltons, Christy and her family have around $174 billion, and Christy personally is listed by Forbes as the richest woman in the world. At around $36.7 to $41+ billion net worth, Walton is the 8th richest person in the world, the 6th richest person in the US. Walton had the good sense to marry one of Sam Walton’s (Walmart founder) sons. As a widow, she inherited the spectacular wealth, but unlike Sam Walton she is known for her charitable contributions.
9. Mary Barra, Auto Executive.
As of September 2014, Barra became the first woman to be the CEO of a major automobile company, in this case the BIG ONE, General Motors. Mary received her BS degree from Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute) and her MBA from Stanford. Only 53 years old, Barra has the potential to reach new milestones either with GM or another major company. She has 2 children and her favorite cars are the Firebird/Camaro twins.
8. Queen Elizabeth II, Monarch.
On September 9, 2015, Lizzie (you can call her QEII if you like) will pass Queen Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch of all time. Despite her age of 89 years, Elizabeth seems to be in good enough health to be a good bet to reach that milestone. Her reign is already over 63 years. When (if) Elizabeth passes Victoria, she will also become the longest reigning female monarch in history. God save the Queen!
7. Joanne “J.K.” Rowling, Author.
The writer of the Harry Potter stories, Rowling has sold over 450 million copies of her books, in turn being named the Most Influential Woman in Britain (pressgazette.co.uk). Her books have been adapted as the highest grossing film series of all time, making her one of the wealthiest self-made women in history. Rowling earned her BA at the University of Exeter and has 3 children. What you may not be aware of is that this talented writer has also written crime fiction under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. She is not yet even 50 years old, so we expect more!
6. Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias, Every Sport! (Mainly Golf).
This remarkable woman was the greatest female golfer of her day, winning 41 LPGA tournaments and another 7 for good measure. Among her wins were 10 of the “major” tournaments and of course she is in the World Golf Hall of Fame and the LPGA Hall of Fame. Among her other athletic accomplishments are 2 Olympic Gold Medals and 1 Olympic Silver Medal in Track and Field (80m hurdles, javelin and high jump), being named the AP Female Athlete of the Year 6 times, an AAU National Champion in track and field and an All American at basketball. Of course, she also excelled at bowling, diving, baseball, softball and roller skating. Somehow among all these other activities, Babe managed to make a few records singing. Sadly, Babe died of colon cancer at the young age of 45 while she still was a dominant pro golfer. By the way, the “Babe” nickname was given to her as her Babe Ruth type baseball performance (or perhaps from her Norwegian mom calling her “Bebe“). ESPN ranked her #10 on their list of the 50 Greatest Athletes of the 20th Century (highest female) and Sports Illustrated ranked her 2nd on their list of Greatest Female Athletes of All Time (to Jackie Joyner-Kersee). Babe has also graced a US Postage stamp.
5. Kimberly S. Rhode, Trap and Skeet.
Now 35 years old, Kim is the only woman to have won 3 Olympic Gold Medals in shooting sports and has in fact won a total of 5 Olympic medals, making her the most successful female Olympic shooter of all time. Her specialty is shotgun blasting at clay pigeons in the sports of Trap and Skeet. A 6 time National (US) champion, this California Polytechnic University graduate has tied the World Record of hitting 99 of 100 clay pigeons in Skeet at the Summer Olympics of 2012. To top off her accomplishments, Kim became a mother in 2013.
4. Meryl Streep, Acting.
With apologies to the fans of Tara Reid, Meryl Streep is one of the finest actors ever to grace the silver screen, male or female. Nominated for an incredible 19 acting Academy Awards (Oscars), Meryl won the Oscar for Best Actress twice and for Best Supporting Actress once. Streep has also won 2 Emmy Awards for work on television, and has been nominated for a Tony Award for acting in a play. Serious, comic, good guy, bad guy, she plays every role as if she were born to it.
3. Rhonda Rousey, Mixed Martial Arts.
The first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in Judo, Rousey has found her niche in MMA. The last Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion, she was the first UFC Bantamweight Champ as well. A devastating wrestler, she has won 9 of her 1professional MMA matches by arm bar. Although her opponents know it is coming, they seem powerless to stop the inevitable. Virtually all MMA publications list her as the best Bantamweight female fighter in the world, and most list her as the best MMA female fighter of all time. As befitting her celebrity, Rhonda has also found work as an actress in major movies (The Expendables 3, Furious 7, Entourage) and has dabbled in professional wrestling (WrestleMania 31). Oh, and the 2 fights she did not win by arm bar? She knocked out her opponents.
2. Clarrissa Harlow (Clara) Barton, American Red Cross.
Having worked in the horrible conditions of the US Civil War as a nurse, Barton was familiar with suffering. Her work founding the American Red Cross has saved untold thousands of lives with people trained in First Aid, CPR and trauma care using the skills taught by the Red Cross. Plus, additional thousands (millions?) of people survived injuries and surgeries because of blood supplies coordinated by the American Red Cross. No other American has done more for disaster preparedness. Barton also founded the first Free School in New Jersey where she oversaw the student enrollment grow to over 600, only leaving when a man was appointed to run the school! With her job in the patent office, it is possible that Clara was the first woman in America to hold a Federal Government job. Barton also was an acquaintance of Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglas, worked both for Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights.
1. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Politics.
The former First Lady of the United States, then a US Senator, and then the US Secretary of State, Hillary is quite an accomplished woman. She now stands as the front runner to be nominated as the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party in 2016, and also leads in the polls over her possible Republican opponents. Whether she wins or not, no other woman has risen to such a high level of political prominence (apologies to Nancy Pelosi). The National Law Journal twice listed her as one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in the US. Hillary also excelled in college, becoming the first ever student commencement speaker at the graduation of her class, and earning a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School. Since Woodrow Wilson was the only President of the US with a PhD, Hillary would be only the second President with a Doctoral degree if she is elected. Like her or not, she is one smart cookie and on top of her field.
Question for students (and subscribers): Hopefully your favorites are listed, but please tell us who you would include if they are not in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Editors of TIME For Kids. Time For Kids: Clara Barton: Angel of the Battlefield (Time For Kids Biographies). HarperCollins, 2008.
Spinner, Stephanie and Who HQ. Who Was Clara Barton? Penguin Workshop, 2014.
Stevenson, Augusta. Clara Barton: Founder of the American Red Cross (Childhood of Famous Americans). Aladdin, 1986.