In celebration of Women’s History Month, Marco Polo team members spent time reflecting on the women who, directly or indirectly, helped steer their course.
Heartwarmingly, many mothers and grandmothers made the list. Other figures, from pop stars to Nobel Peace Prize winners, have made a global mark by claiming their passions, making deep personal sacrifices, and relentlessly breaking down professional and political barriers.
“Women’s History Month means that for at least a few weeks, we pause to remember and recognize women who’ve made a difference in our lives,” Marco Polo CEO and co-founder Vlada Bortnik says. “It’s one way to celebrate and show to the next generation what women have been doing and are capable of achieving, in the hope that it inspires young minds in ways that we perhaps can’t yet even imagine.”
Here are a few who have made the world a better place for us all, along with three words that encapsulate their power to inspire.
#1. Edie Windsor. Three words: Determination, courage, warrior. Why: “She set the grounds that helped me be myself,” one team member says. “She changed the world with her perseverance and fighting spirit. She was a humble advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and for all us ladies who are in the tech industry. She was truly a hero and one badass lady.”
#2. Ada Lovelace. Three words: Brilliant, fearless, tenacious. Why: A 2015 article in Nature dubbed this 19th-century poet and mathematician the “enchantress of abstraction” for her prescient vision of analytical computing. Fun (but secondary) fact: She was also the daughter of the poet Lord Byron.
#3. Margaret Hamilton. Three words: Persistence, rigor, curiosity. Why: “Hamilton changed computer science from computation and programming into an engineering discipline,” her team admirer says. “She saw that even the best programmers are fallible and that rigorous testing and process could reduce risk and save lives.”
#4. Sara Clemens. Three words: Details, data, strategy. Why: “When she was Chief Operating Officer at Pandora, she had such incredible vision and the ability to lead really amazing strategy work,” says one team member who had the good fortune to work with Clemens. “She doesn’t just ask good questions, she builds teams that answer them.”
Women’s History Month is a chance to celebrate women who have crushed legal and social obstacles to create lasting change in the world. –Kiara, Marketing
#1. Michelle Obama. Three words: Elegance, brilliance, perspective. Why: “Her grace and desire to use her power to inspire the next generation.”
#2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Three words: Laser-focused, courageous, committed. Why: “Imagine being a young, female person of color in the American political sphere,” her team fan says. “Now also imagine being one of that sphere’s fastest-rising names. The pressure is on and she ain’t blinking. Color me inspired.”
#3. Malala Yousafzai. Three words: Courageous, committed, compassionate. Why: “Her bravery is extraordinary,” her nominator says. “She overcame hatred, misogyny, and even physical violence to become a global voice for education and standing up to oppression. She is a role model to every young person (and even us old persons!) around the world.”
#4. Harriet Tubman. Three words: Courageous, ingenious, defiant. Why: “When I was in third grade, I did a project on her for my Quaker Sunday school,” her team fan says. “Her grit, courage, moral conviction, and sheer impact was a probably unrealistic ideal to aspire to, but truly showed me that it’s possible to make a difference even when it seems everything is stacked against you.”
Women’s History Month gives us a chance to acknowledge how women have been left out in accounts of the events and important developments of the past. –Laure, Research
#1. Dolly Parton. Three words: Down-to-earth, kind, irreplaceable. Why: “Her generosity and her desire to heal the country.”
#2. Oprah. Three words: Unmistakable, unflinching, fearless. Why: “She overcame so much racism early in her career and became the powerhouse that she is today. And she gives back generously.”
#3. Taylor Swift. Three words: Strong, courageous, giving. Why: “I learned that it’s okay to be yourself,” her team fan says. “Not everyone is going to like you or appreciate who you are, but it’s okay as long as you know who YOU are and what you stand for.”
Women’s History Month is an opportunity to bring to the front and highlight women who have made significant contributions to the world we live in today, many of whom never received recognition in their lifetime. – Bill, Engineering
Pictured from left: Harriet Tubman, Malala Yousafzai, Margaret Hamilton, Edie Windsor, Ada Lovelace.