On Their Shoulders - SecondMuse

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    As Women's History Month comes to a close, we reflect on some of the trailblazing women who inspire our work at SecondMuse.

    As a company dedicated to building inclusive, sustainable economies, our minds are often on people who have been historically marginalized and excluded. This, of course, includes women, who do most of the world’s unpaid labor, generally earn less than men, and are underrepresented, across industries, in positions of power.

    We work to change this reality every day and take immense inspiration from both historic and contemporary women who have shined a spotlight on inequalities, thrived in the face of them, and dedicated themselves to addressing them. As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we invited our team members to shout out the women who inspire them most. Here are few of their nominations.

    Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Marine Biologist, CEO of Ocean Collectiv

    Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and the founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. She is also the founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. Time Magazine has described her as “a powerful force who has used her voice to ensure the climate movement encompasses a diversity of voices, especially women and people of color.” Born in 1980 in Brooklyn, New York, she went on to study environmental science at Harvard University and earn a PhD in marine biology from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. From there, she built an impressive career that included stints at New York University’s Department of Environmental Studies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Her work uniquely focuses on the underexplored intersection between social justice and climate change. She is widely viewed as a voice of hope and practical guidance in the face of immense global challenges.

    Anne-Marie Slaughter, Author, Professor and CEO of New America 

    Anne-Marie Slaughter is the CEO of New America, a top U.S. think tank, a Princeton University professor, former U.S. State Department official and author of multiple books including the 2015 bestseller, Unfinished Business: Women, Men, Work, Family. The book grew out of her viral article, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All,” which cast a glaring spotlight on the gender wage gap and other penalties working mothers often pay when attempting to balance careers and kids. Her book contributed to a national conversation about paid parental leave, affordable childcare and other policy and cultural reforms that could empower parents to meet family responsibilities without jeopardizing their careers.

    Emily Warren Roebling, Brooklyn Bridge’s Surrogate Chief Engineer

    Emily Warren Roebling was the surrogate chief engineer in the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Born in 1843, Roebling attended the prestigious Georgetown Academy of the Visitation, where she studied history, astronomy, French and algebra. She didn’t have a formal education in engineering, but she familiarized herself with the work through her husband, Brooklyn Bridge chief engineer Washington A. Roebling. When he got sick, the completion of the “Eight Wonder of the World” fell to Ms. Roebling, who “negotiated the supply materials, oversaw the contracts, and acted as liaison to the board of trustees,” according to an obituary. The modern marvel, experts say, would not exist today if it weren’t for Ms. Roebling’s expertise and project management skills — all displayed with grace and confidence at a time when women’s public roles were mostly limited to subservient positions.

    Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary

    Jennifer Psaki is currently leading the first all-female senior White House communications team. In that role, she is a key face of the Biden administration and often the first source the public hears from on matters pertaining to the presidency. After graduating from the College of William & Mary in 2000, she built an impressive resume as a core member of multiple presidential and campaign press teams. The New York Times once referred to her as “the unflappable and genial point-person to reporters.” More recently she earned praise in her new position for restoring daily press briefings that became irregular during the previous administration, and installing an American Sign Language interpreter for those daily meetings.

    Kimberlé Crenshaw

    Kimberlé Crenshaw is a renowned social justice advocate, professor and intellectual who has shaped our understanding of the role race and gender play in society. She was born in the 1950s, a time when legal segregation affected Black Americans across huge swaths of the country. While a student at Cornell University, Harvard Law School and the University of Wisconsin Law School, she pioneered the study of intersectionality, which focuses on the ways gender and race intersect. In her distinguished academic career, she helped develop Critical Race Theory and has established herself as a leading authority on civil rights, Black feminist legal theory, racism and the law.