Whether official, unpaid, recognized, or uncredited, women have always figured as a central part of education in the United States. In honor of International Women’s Day, Stand for Children celebrates all of the incredible women who have made a difference in the lives of students through their dedication to quality education today, and throughout our country’s history.
We’re highlighting a few of the lesser-known, but equally important women who made their mark on American education. Click the name of each woman to learn more about her impact.
Catherine Brewer & Mary Jane Patterson: Brewer was first in a group of 11 women to earn bachelor’s degrees from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia (1840), and Patterson became the first woman of color to receive a college degree in the U.S. from Oberlin College (1862).
Laura Eisenhuth: Voters in North Dakota elected Eisenhuth as the first female superintendent of a U.S. public school in 1892. She also became the first woman to win an election for state office.
Josephine Field Shambaugh: Shambaugh was a school teacher who helped develop skills-based after school programs for rural children that later became what is now known as the 4-H Club.
Rosalyn Sussman Yallow & Gertrude Elion: As Nobel Prize winners in Physiology or Medicine, Yallow and Elion were trailblazing women in STEM fields, revolutionizing the field of medicine.
Ruby Bridges: Bridges was the first African American child to attend an all-white school in the South during the period of desegregation.
Patsy Mink: Mink was the first woman of color elected to Congress. During her time as a congresswoman, Mink co-authored the Title IX Amendment of the Higher Education Act which protects against gender discrimination in federally funded institutions.
Marie Clay: As a clinical psychologist, Clay developed the Reading Recovery Intervention program that was eventually used in the U.S. to help children struggling with literacy through early intervention.
Candy Torres: Torres joined NASA as an engineer, working on satellites, space shuttles, and the International Space Station. She is now an outspoken proponent of STEM education for girls and women.