I’ve discovered I am most inspired to challenge myself and strive for success when I am reminded of women who have paved the way before me. These women often did not have examples of successful women when they broke new ground in their respective professional or social arenas.
I like the way Margaret Mead describes success: “I personally measure success in terms of the contributions an individual makes to her or his fellow human beings.” In the spirit of our upcoming Touchstone Awards, our staff has decided to give the following women an honorary Touchstone Award for their contributions to their fellow human beings.
Jessica: “I think Jane Austen deserves a Touchstone Award for writing insightfully about the dynamics of society, especially women’s experiences, during her day, and for her courage in being a female author during a time when not many female authors were taken seriously.”
Jennifer: “I would give a Touchstone Award to Rear Admiral ‘Amazing Grace’ Murray Hopper. She won the inaugural ‘computer sciences man of the year’ award in 1969. She was a math and computer genius who, as a naval officer, was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I and created the first computer programming language compiler. She spent a lot of her time later in life traveling and giving inspirational speeches, especially to young people. She was described by one reporter as a ‘feisty old salt who gave off an aura of power.’”
Jen: “Artemesia Gentileschi was a 17th century Italian painter who achieved considerable fame and success during an era in which women were often excluded from the art world. In addition to becoming the first woman accepted into the prestigious Academy of Florence, Gentileschi is known for her proto-feminist interpretations of Biblical stories featuring women. Her representations of women are realistic and powerful and made lifelike by the inclusion of physical imperfections. She is true ‘touchstone’ for her celebration of female heroes and personal success in a male-dominated field.”
Carrie: “My personal pick for a historical Touchstone Award recipient is Elizabeth I of England (1533-1604). She has been a source of inspiration to me since I discovered her amazing story eleven years ago. Queen of England at a time when it was unusual for women to hold a position of any power, much less rule a country, Elizabeth did so on her own with courage and intelligence. One of her quotes has stuck with me and displays her amazing strength: ‘Though the sex to which I belong is considered weak, you will nevertheless find me a rock that bends to no wind.’”
Sarah: “The following is my quick list of historical women deserving of a Touchstone Award: Margaret Sanger, Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, Madam C. J. Walker (a Hoosier!), Ruby Bridges; well-known women suffragists who inspire me – Ida B. Wells, Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
There are many, many women who should be included in this list. Who would you add?