The first of the month slipped right past me this time around! Since this is coming so late, let’s head straight into the Doodle-Worthy women I want to celebrate for April 2013:
— First, I want to mention Wangari Maathai, who was honored with a Doodle last month in a variety of countries on the African continent. Maathai was an environmental activist who served in Kenya’s government as both a member of Parliament and assistant minister for Environmental and Natural Resources. Her efforts won her the Nobel Peace Price in 2004, the first African woman or environmentalist thus honored.
— Anne McCaffrey, born April 1, 1926, was a science fiction writer who won many of the major awards in her field (and was, in many cases, the first woman to do so). McCaffrey was a winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, a New York Times best-selling author, and an inductee to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. She was a prolific writer, publishing almost 100 books over the course of her career, and immensely popular as well, selling millions of copies around the world.
— Gabriela Mistral (the pen name of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga), born April 7, 1889, was the 1945 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. She began her career as an educator and activist, becoming a major figure in Chile and beyond due to her high-profile work in the national education system. She also served as Chile’s consul in several European and North American cities. Mistral traveled broadly, publishing and lecturing in a variety of fields and media, including poetry. It was ultimately her poems that won her the Nobel Prize in Literature and Chile’s National Prize for Literature, though her international career was also related to education, diplomacy, and intellectualism.
— Annie Dodge Wauneka, born April 11, 1910, was a leader of the Navajo Nation, serving on the Tribal Council for almost 3 decades. She was also a winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in honor of her long career in promoting public health, community programs, and welfare among the Navajo. Her other honors include induction to the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and multiple honorary doctorates in humanities, law, and public health. Wauneka became interested in nursing, health, and public service following the 1918 flu pandemic. Her legacy includes the translation of medical techniques, terms, and concepts from English to Navajo, along with major campaigns to reduce the incidence of tuberculosis.
— Mamie Phipps Clark, born April 18, 1917, was a psychologist who earned her PhD at Columbia University, specializing in self-identification and development of young children. She is most famous for work conducted in collaboration with her husband, Kenneth Clark, also a research psychologist, known as “the doll study.” In this groundbreaking study, black children used drawings and dolls of varying skin color to indicate which looked most like them, and which they preferred. This work showed that negative stereotypes and the effects of racism had influenced children’s perceptions of themselves, and of black as “bad” and white as “nice,” by the time they were only 5 years old. The Clarks’ research informed the Supreme Court’s judgment on Brown vs. Board of Education, helping to further the argument that segregated education had a biased effect on the social, educational, and psychological development of black children.
— Historian Gerda Lerner, born April 30, 1920, passed away recently in January 2013. Lerner is known for helping to found women’s history as an academic field, both teaching the first courses and founding the first graduate-level programs in that discipline. She dedicated her scholarship to uncovering primary sources, including diaries and letters, that would help the entire field study and articulate history as experienced and driven by women. Her scholarly works were some of the first to approach history through the lens of feminism and women’s oppression. Lerner is the winner of the Bruce Catton Prize for Lifetime Achievement in Historical Writing and the Joan Kelly Prize; the Organization of American Historians offers an annual women’s history prize in her name.