Celebrating Women Communicators for Social Change

Through the years, Vanguard has recognized inspiring women as part of our Communicators of the Month series. From athletics to space exploration to fashion, these remarkable individuals not only made their mark in their own fields and industries, but also used their voices and influence to advance social change more globally.

In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some of the remarkable people who continue to inspire us, listed in alphabetical order.


In today’s progressive environment, women in leadership roles — including in business — isn’t out of the norm. Three decades ago, however, it was ground-breaking. This business and fashion pioneer-turned-environmental-activist got her start by winning a design contest held by Harper’s Bazaar magazine at age 19! Learn more about Liz Claiborne and her contributions to the world of fashion and the environment.
Original artwork depicting Anne Elizabeth Claiborne


Gertrude Cox
Gertrude Cox was an early pioneer who helped make statistics practical for those working in agricultural and biological research. She was a driving force in bridging the gap between theoreticians and research workers. She co-wrote the book “Experimental Design,” which greatly influenced the design of experiments for statisticians. Learn more about her impact in the United States and abroad.


Andrea Mead Lawrence’s achievements on the slopes may only be rivaled by her accomplishments as an environmental activist. Twenty years after her birth in 1932, Mead became the only American alpine skier to win two gold medals in a single Olympics, landing her on the cover of TIME magazine. Meanwhile, her advocacy work focused on the restoration of California’s Mammoth Lakes, Mono Lake, Bodie State Historic Park and other parts of the Eastern Sierra. Learn more about Lawrence’s achievements as an Olympian and environmentalist.
Andrea Mead Lawrence


Patsy (Takemoto) Mink may not have been a professional athlete, but her effect on U.S. athletics is among the most profound. As the principal author of Title IX, her work is largely responsible for the exponential growth of women’s athletics — both amateur and professional — since 1972. Learn more about the significant opportunities for women in education and sports that are possible because of Mink.


Annie Smith Peck took up the sport of mountain climbing at age 44. She became the third woman ever to scale the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps — and the first to make the climb in pants instead of a skirt. When she wasn’t climbing mountains, Peck was advocating for women’s voting rights. Learn more about her accomplishments both on the mountain and off.


Sally K. Ride
Not only was she a physicist and the first American woman in space, Sally Ride worked to encourage young people, especially girls, to pursue careers in science and engineering. Her space career began in 1977 when, while completing her doctorate in chemistry, she answered a NASA newspaper ad for astronaut candidates. After NASA found her to be up to the task, she boarded the Challenger shuttle on June 18, 1983, for a historic journey into orbit. Learn more about Ride’s additional contributions to NASA and physics.


Mary Ross was the first Native American female engineer. After earning a master’s degree in mathematics she joined the Lockheed Corporation, where she was assigned to work with engineers helping the United States win the space race. She became a strong advocate for engineering and mathematics opportunities for both women and Native Americans. Learn more about Ross’ contributions to Lockheed and her advocacy work.
Mary Ross


Original artwork depicting Zitkala Sa "Red Bird"
Through her poetry and prose, which contain a range of Sioux traditions, exhortations and autobiographical information, Zitkala-Sa challenged commonly held beliefs that white culture was superior. Often writing in English to be accessible to a white audience, she balanced sharp criticism of dominant stereotypes with support of peaceful coexistence between both cultures. Learn more about the critical role Zitkala-Sa played in advocating for Native American rights.


Chien-Shiung Wu was a key contributor to the Manhattan Project, an initiative to produce nuclear weapons during World War II, ultimately earning her the nickname “First Lady of Physics.” In 1957, she made a ground-breaking physics observation that disproved what was then a widely accepted law of nature — the hypothetical law of conservation of parity. Learn more about Wu’s contributions to the scientific community.
Chien-Shiung Wu