In honor of Women’s History Month, Women You Should Know commissioned award-winning cartoonist, author and illustrator, David Trumble to execute our vision for an original piece of art that would pay tribute to some of history’s most courageous women; fearless females who went out on a limb to speak out, to stand up, and to act in the fight for women’s rights and equality; pioneers who moved women’s history forward and thought leaders who continue to carry that torch. We are so proud to present… Feminism At Work.
Illustrated by award-winning cartoonist David Trumble, Feminism At Work is a visual salute to history’s fearless females, a great teaching tool, and a monumental source of inspiration for women and girls everywhere.
Spanning almost 200 years of U.S. history, from the mid-1800s through today, Feminism At Work captures the spirit of the women’s movement by highlighting some of its greatest champions – 12 in total – from different eras. Because they are the hands-on builders who set out to forge a better and more equal path for women everywhere, often putting themselves in precarious and unpopular positions in the process, the composition of the piece evokes the iconic 1932 black and white photograph Lunchtime Atop A Skyscraper, or more informally Men At Work. Believed to have been taken by photographer Charles Ebbets, it features 11 ironworkers eating lunch on a steel beam, dangling 850 feet above New York City’s streets, while on break from constructing the RCA building (now the GE building) in Rockefeller Center.
In contrast, Feminism At Work is intentionally set against a transitioning backdrop – from monochrome to vivid color – of a more modern New York, as it’s very much about the future, about continuing to move forward, expanding on the solid foundation these women have laid for all of us, and for generations of women to come. And there is no “lunch break” when it comes to the women’s movement as there always was and still is much work to be done in the fight for women’s equality.
Of the countless American women we could have included, we worked with women’s historian and political consultant Pam Elam, founder of The Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony Central Park Statue Fund, to narrow it down to a core group of 11 that, like the pieces of a complicated puzzle, each represent a vital part of the whole picture. We rounded out our list to a total of 12 women by including someone we call “Future Woman,” an unidentified individual who represents the new wave of feminists, the collective of young women and girls of the digital age who will continue to lead the charge.
As you look at the women from left to right they are positioned chronologically, so that the image also serves as a compelling and engaging historical timeline.
Feminism At Work is a visual salute, a conversation starter, a great teaching tool, a super cool women’s history lesson, and a monumental source of inspiration for women and girls everywhere.
“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.” – Gloria Steinem
Meet The 12 Women Of Feminism At Work
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Known as America’s first feminist, and the best-educated American woman of her time, she was a writer, literary critic, women’s rights advocate, transcendentalist, and journalist (the first full-time female employee of the New-York Tribune and America’s first full-time foreign correspondent). Her “conversations” and writings helped set the stage for action in Seneca Falls, NY, where the nation’s First Woman’s Rights Convention was held in 1848. Her 1845 book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, was “a stirring early treatise on women’s rights,” and was as important as Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) in lighting a fuse to spark a revolution.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906)
After forging separate fights for women’s rights, temperance, and anti-slavery programs, Stanton and Anthony joined forces in 1851, and went on to become the most powerful team in women’s history, turning theory into action in the process. Through the valiant work they did over the course of their 50 plus year partnership, these two pioneering women helped change the world’s very definition of “democracy.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton was largely responsible for organizing the nation’s First Woman’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848. That meeting represented the beginning of a national, and later worldwide, movement for women’s rights led by Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and others, which made fundamental change possible. From 1868 to 1870, this dynamic duo edited and published their women’s rights newspaper – The Revolution – and ultimately formed the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. The movement they started continues to this day, around the world.
Jane Addams (1860-1935)
This social reformer, pacifist and feminist, embodies the community-building role that women have played throughout all of history. In 1889, she co-founded one of the first settlements in the United States, the Hull House in Chicago, Illinois, which was designed to enrich lives: empower women, help the poor, stand up for immigrant rights, and educate children. In 1910, she became the first female president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections. She founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919, and worked tirelessly against war. Jane Addams was the first American woman (and second woman) to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, and, at the end of her life, was also honored by the American government for her efforts for peace.
Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931)
We honor this fearless activist, crusader for justice, and uncompromising journalist for her role in making race a fundamental part of the fight for women’s rights. Through her Anti-Lynching campaigns, Ida exposed racial injustice, challenged segregation, and championed African-American rights. When it came to Woman Suffrage, she attended meetings around the country, and developed friendships with women like Susan B. Anthony and Jane Addams. Through her impassioned articles (she was editor and co-owner of the Free Speech, a Memphis newspaper) and powerful speeches, Ida made it clear that the movement must include everyone. In 1909, she became one of the founders of the NAACP, and in 1913, she established the Alpha Suffrage Club, which was the first black women’s suffrage club.
Margaret Sanger (1879-1966)
Women’s rights activist, sex educator, and nurse, this is a woman who challenged the male-written rules as to what a woman could do with her own body. She helped redefine sexuality and gave women reproductive options by devoting her life to legalizing birth control, a term she coined, and making it universally available to women. In 1916, she opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. in Brooklyn, NY, and was jailed for it. In 1921, she established the American Birth Control League, a precursor to today’s Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 1923, while with the League, she opened the first legal birth control clinic in the U.S. In the early 1950s, she met Gregory Pincus, a human reproduction expert, who helped her realize her dream of creating a “magic” contraceptive pill for women everywhere that was cheap, safe, effective, and easy to use. With the funding they received from research sponsor, international Harvester heiress Katharine McCormick, their collaboration led to the development of the first oral contraceptive, Enovid, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1960.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962)
American politician, diplomat, and activist who later served as a United Nations spokeswoman, Eleanor was the longest-serving First Lady throughout her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office (1933-1945). She created a new model for public service and expanded expectations of the role women must play in reshaping the world. Without Eleanor there would have never been many of the New Deal programs and policies that benefited millions. Without Eleanor there would have never been so many women and people of color appointed to important posts in the Roosevelt Administration. Without Eleanor there would have never been a Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Bella Abzug (1920-1998)
An American lawyer, U.S. Representative (1971-1977), anti-war activist, and founding feminist, Bella was one of the most influential and recognizable female politicians of the late 20th century. Bold and outspoken, she was also among the most visible and effective leaders of the second wave of the women’s movement. Her legacy is marked by her fearless efforts of taking on the government, and having great impact on the political process.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Also one of the most influential and recognizable female politicians and leaders of the late 20th century, Shirley Chisholm became the first black congresswoman in 1968, and represented New York State in the U.S. House of Representatives for seven terms. She went on to run for the 1972 Democratic nomination for the Presidency, becoming the first major-party African-American candidate to do so, highlighting both sex and race discrimination issues in the process. Throughout her political career, Chisholm fought for education opportunities and social justice.
Gloria Steinem (1934 – )
Arguably the most visible and effective leader of the second wave of the women’s movement, Gloria, a thought leader, writer, author, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist, she co-founded Ms. magazine in 1972 and became the movement’s Most Valuable Player. She has been involved in feminist and other social justice movements for over forty years, and to her credit, helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance, the National Women’s Political Caucus, and the Women’s Media Center (2004).
Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947 – )
“Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.” (from the groundbreaking speech she gave in Beijing in 1995). This is a woman who smashed through one political glass ceiling after another, while being a champion for women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, and investment in women’s economic potential. In 2001, Hillary Clinton became the only American first lady to hold national office when she was elected to the U.S. Senate. She became the 67th U.S. Secretary of State in 2009, serving until 2013. During that time, she brought the message of equality, justice, and opportunity for women and girls to a global stage, giving it worldwide attention.
Future Woman (right here – right now)
This unidentified young woman/girl represents the latest wave of feminists; the new generation of girls and young women, born in the digital age, whose voices and message are amplified by social media, and who will lead the charge and carry the torch from now into the future.
Biographical information from the following sources: Women’s Historian/Political Consultant Pam Elam, White House, Smithsonian, PBS, Biography, Duke University, New York University, Abzug Institute, GloriaSteinem.com, MargaretFuller.org, NobelPrize.org, African-American Perspectives, NPS.com
Why 12 Women?
In planning a singular illustration intended to encapsulate nearly 20 decades of a complex, historic and ongoing movement, there was a limit as to how many deserving women we could depict. But as the number 12 has always held important weight and meaning throughout time and history, and across cultures and in nature, we chose to select that exact number of women as a reflection of the significance of the visual we commissioned. After all, harkening back to its most ancient meaning, 12 is considered the number of perfection.