By Robin Boytos, originally posted on Headhonchas.com [reposted with author’s permission]
These are the women that inspired me to go for it and launch my own business.
Their full stories and many more can be found in “Bad Girls Throughout History” by Ann Shen. Highly recommend purchasing this beautifully illustrated and inspirational book.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg – the one, the only, the Notorious RBG is my queen bae. My Beyoncé in life. 2nd ever woman to be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court
Insanely smart woman, incredibly huge work ethic, and has done more for gender equality than anyone in this nation. More importantly, her journey wasn’t easy. It was an uphill battle! She was 1 of 9 women out of 500 students in her Harvard Law School class. The dean asked her why she should be accepted to the school over a more deserving man. She transferred to Columbia Law School and graduated first in her class. She couldn’t get hired as a lawyer because she was a woman so she became the first tenured female professor at Columbia Law School. Eventually, she gained the opportunity to take 6 cases for gender equality in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. When she was finally appointed to the Supreme Court, her previous classmates at Harvard instead of congratulating her, spread rumors that her nickname was “bitch” in law school. RBG’s response? “Better bitch than mouse” – that one line alone is why she is my queen bae.
Why I feel connected to her: I’ve had some nasty things said about me in my career. Particularly when I was promoted to Vice President, some people came out of the woodworks to say negative things to my CEO. I never had issues with personal attacks until I became a VP level. Somehow women in subordinate positions are ok, but when it comes time to have an opinion that has a major impact, all hell breaks loose. We still have a long way to go for gender equality, but it comforts me to know that someone as badass as RBG has been through similar plights if not worse.
- Marie Curie – First woman ever to win a Nobel prize; first person ever male or female to win 2 Nobel prizes in separate sciences.
Marie Curie’s journey wasn’t easy either. She attended an underground university because women weren’t allowed to attend college in Poland at the time. She graduated and couldn’t get a job as a woman. Marie met her husband who was also a brilliant scientist, and together they won their first Nobel prize. Unfortunately, her husband died of a horse-drawn carriage accident and she was left to fight the world alone. She took over his professor gig at a university and eventually won her second Nobel prize on her own. She proved to the world she wasn’t piggybacking off her husband, she was highly intelligent and capable on her own.
Why I feel connected to her: I love that she is a left-brain female in a male-dominated field. I am someone with a raging sense of independence and pride for my work and if I can show the world that I am a capable badass female on my own, I would accomplish a life goal.
3. Marlene Sanders – broke the journalism glass ceiling
Marlene Sanders worked as a writer/producer for news for ABC. This was unconventional for women at the time, but not unheard of. Marlene finally got her opportunity to be in front of the camera and she was given a segment called “News with a women’s touch” where she reported on food, fashion, and child-rearing. However, she didn’t let herself get pigeonholed! She fought to cover real news like Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. After that, she became the first female field reporter in Vietnam and the first female VP for ABC News.
Why I feel connected to her: I love that she wouldn’t let herself be pigeonholed. Just like Marlene, I don’t care if a female or anyone has done what I’m looking to accomplish before, I know my capabilities and I have a courageous heart that can move mountains when I put my mind to it. You can’t be the first of something if you don’t try.
4. Ada Lovelace – the enchantress of numbers; first computer programmer
Ada Lovelace was known for her “scandalous” behavior which included socializing with her male colleagues that weren’t her husband. Ada liked to gamble and her along with her group of friends created a mathematical algorithm to help them win large bets while gambling. This was highly unconventional for a female to partake in any of these activities.
Why I feel connected to her: math, gambling, guy friends – need I say more? I am a math major and growing up I socialized with males because I liked sports and typically more “male” interest activities. To see another woman break social norms and hang on a man’s level as far back as the 1800s inspires me to keep pushing the limits on societal norms.
5. Lilian Bland – the first woman to design, build, and fly an airplane.
Lilian Bland lived in the early 1900s. She was an unconventional as they get. She wore trousers, smoked, practiced jiu-jitsu, and even swore. She had an unusual career for women at the time as a sports and wildlife photographer. One day she saw a Frenchman fly across the English channel and she thought to herself, “that seems cool, I’m gonna go ahead and do that,” so she did. She designed, built, and flew an aircraft 30 feet as far as Orville Wright had done 9 years prior. She named her aircraft the “Mayfly” because “it may fly, it may not fly, we’ll find out!” She was full of spunk and innovation – instead of waiting for a fuel tank, she threw together some whiskey and an ear trumpet and decided it was sufficient to risk her life in the aircraft. Eventually, her father bribed her with a car to stop flying in homemade aircraft, and since she already accomplished what she set out to do, she happily took the car, married a man, and ran off to Vancouver to live a normal life.
Why I feel connected to her: Lilian Bland is me but a century earlier. Maybe I’m just Lilian Bland re-incarnated? I am a pretty unconventional female that played rugby, likes Olympic weightlifting and enjoys watching UFC fights. I had no business starting the business that I did, but I shrugged my shoulders and went for it. Just like Lilian Bland thought she could build and fly an airplane and she did. I like that she accomplished what she set out to do and returned to a normal life. This is a life goal for me. Prove that I can and move on with my life practicing jiu-jitsu and swearing with my buds!
Reading these trailblazer stories lit a fire inside of me. Seeing all these women’s amazing accomplishments in a time when it was even less likely than it is today made me want to do something important too. How badly I wanted to be worthy of being written about in a book like that. It gave me the courage to go for it. I have no regrets with my business and I still believe if we as women don’t try, regardless if we fail, how are we ever going to break the glass ceiling??
Robin Boytos is the founder and CEO of The Pizza Experience, an experiential pop-up museum that marries experiential art and marketing.