Brit + Co's Year in Women 2018

2018 can perhaps best be described as an odyssey — a year marked by both great setbacks and tremendous triumphs. Amid constant change and uncertainty, women across the country and around the world have stepped up, taking measurable action to lead us into a brighter future. Whether they won or lost their respective battles, it takes a remarkable amount of courage to fight for progress and change, whether personal or social — and that’s something worth celebrating. Unquestionably, there’s still work to be done, but if this year has proven anything it’s that there’s no one more ready to accept the challenge than women.

1
Busy Philipps

This year, the veteran actress celebrates the release of a bestselling memoir and a brand new talk show.

1
Busy Philipps

This year, the veteran actress celebrates the release of a bestselling memoir and a brand new talk show.

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It’s not easy being a best friend to over a million women on Instagram, but Busy Philipps is doing a pretty damn good job. Over the past few years, the actress has amassed an impressively dedicated following on the social media platform thanks to her passenger seat confessions, workout diaries, and bedside chats. Starting her videos with her trademark, “You guys…” Philipps embodies a down-to-earth honesty that women not only relate to, but fully bond with.

This year, Phillips found a way to take her ability to connect into a fully reimagined career. The 39-year-old actress – who has always been transparent about her struggles to find work in Hollywood – strategically shifted her professional focus. In October, she released her memoir This Will Only Hurt a Little, which became an instant New York Times bestseller. In tandem with the book’s release, she also kicked off a new late-night talk show Busy Tonight. Both ventures showcase Phillips’ trademark blend of humor and vulnerability. While it may have taken her a minute to find her footing, Philipps’ resurgence is proof that if you stay true to your own voice, success will find a way.

How to take action: Donate to or get involved with Women in Film, an organization advocating for the advancement of careers for women working in the screen industries.

2
Time's Up

From red carpet protests to Oprah’s iconic speech, the movement is rebuilding the foundation of Hollywood and beyond.

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After a silence-shattering year of #MeToo revelations in 2017, January 2018 brought a message from more than 300 women working in film, television, and theater: Time’s Up. In a public declaration of women’s solidarity, some of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses announced they were forming an organization, vowing to help put an end to the misogyny and sexual predation that affects not only the entertainment industry but women in almost every industry. Putting muscle behind the campaign, Time’s Up also raised $16 million for a legal defense fund aimed to help other women take on on their abusers.

Just days later, the movement manifested on the red carpet of the 75th annual Golden Globe Awards. Celebrities arrived dressed in all-black in protest of gender-based harassment and violence. To show support for the real women in the everyday fight, actresses like Emma Stone, Michelle Williams, and Meryl Streep brought notable activists as their dates to bring awareness to their work.

Later in the night, as Oprah accepted her Cecil B. DeMille award, she addressed the room with a fiery speech that would go on to set the tone for the rest of the year. In that boisterous and inspiring cadence that only Oprah can deliver, she told both the audience and the world, “For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up.”

How to take action: Donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund to help further what the women of Hollywood started.

3
Cardi B

A platinum debut album, the arrival of a baby girl, and a secret wedding. No star is shining brighter than Cardi B.

3
Cardi B

A platinum debut album, the arrival of a baby girl, and a secret wedding. No star is shining brighter than Cardi B.

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This year Belcalis Almanzar AKA the one and only Cardi B ascended to a realm that is entirely her own. The female rapper's original slang and sense of humor quickly became a cultural phenomenon, but it's her musical accomplishments that have wowed both fans and critics alike. Coming in hot from out of nowhere, Cardi slayed the 2018 Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first solo female rapper to have a number one hit in almost 20 years and only the fifth female rapper in history to top the album charts.

Cardi even made headlines on her personal front, welcoming a baby girl Kulture Kiari Cephus with her new husband Offset (of rap trio Migos) – a pregnancy she revealed dramatically in an SNL performance. Amid the rollercoaster ride of becoming a new mother, she received heavy criticism from the public for having a baby at the peak of her career, to which she responded, "Why can't I have both? Why do I have to choose a baby or a career?"

Although she'd planned to return to work soon after giving birth for a much-anticipated tour with Bruno Mars, Cardi again went her own way, admitting that the reality of motherhood was forcing her to take time away from her career and focus on raising her babe. We have no doubt she'll be back in the spotlight when she feels ready, proving that success and motherhood are not mutually exclusive.

How to take action: Donate to or get involved with Women in Music, the industry's leading non-profit.

4
Women Rule the Ballot

In a pivotal election year, a record number of American women campaigned for a place in government.

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After 2017 deeply affected and motivated women through inspirational and horrifying moments, we knew that 2018 would be a huge one for political ladies, but we don’t think anyone was prepared for just how big it would be.

2018 kicked off with a record number of women running for elected office — a whopping 589 in total. Months before the November’s midterm elections, pundits and newshounds forecasted an electoral “Year of the Woman,” based on the sheer volume of female candidates alone. Still, in spite of the nearly 90 percent increase in women running for US House seats compared to the 2016 elections, this year’s election results surpassed expectations.

The 2018 midterms saw historic firsts for women candidates. The first two Muslim women in US history were elected to Congress, and more women of color were elected than ever before. And a record 35 new women will be joining the 66 incumbent women in the House. Looks like women had their year in politics, after all.

How to take action: Donate to She Should Run, a non-partisan organization aiming to assist at least 250,000 women campaign for a place in government by 2030.

5
Lena Waithe

Sit back and watch as this Black, queer, creative visionary expands the Hollywood narrative.

5
Lena Waithe

Sit back and watch as this Black, queer, creative visionary expands the Hollywood narrative.

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Is the world ready for Lena Waithe’s version of Hollywood? Ready or not, here she comes. Waithe made history last year when she became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series. The Masters of None episode that earned her the award was a semi-autobiographical account of a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality. Out of that initial big breakthrough, Waithe went on to debut her own original TV series The Chi, which centers around Chicago’s South Side community. She’s also working on a number of other projects that place Black and LGBTQ+ women in leading roles.

Throughout her time as a public figure, Waithe has been personally very outspoken about her own identity as a Black queer woman. In a much-buzzed-about Vanity Fair cover, Waithe opened up about her role in the “Black Brilliance” movement currently disrupting Hollywood. Months later, she got real with the world yet again, this time about something seemingly mundane: her new buzz cut. Waithe told Variety, “I felt like I was holding onto a piece of femininity that would make the world feel comfortable with who I am [...] I’m here with a suit on, not a stitch of makeup, and a haircut. I feel like, ‘Why can’t I exist in the world in that way?'”

How to take action: Donate to The Blackhouse Foundation, a non-profiting working to expand opportunities for Black content creators by providing career pathways in film, television, digital and emerging platforms.

6
The Women of Wakanda

Powerful, independent, and proud of their culture, 'Black Panther’s' female leads are the definition of Black girl magic.

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As one of the most highly anticipated films of 2018, Black Panther more than lived up to the hype. With trending hashtags like #BlackPantherSoLit and #Going2Wakanda, it was immediately obvious that the film had created a much-needed space for Black representation and pride on-screen.

Storywise, Black Panther did not disappoint – and not only because of its titular masked superhero. Instead, it was the strong women of Wakanda: Queen Ramonda, Shuri, Nakia, and Okoye who stole the show. In between wisecracks, these characters created new technological advancements, infiltrated and disbanded terrorist groups, and made peace treaties between bickering factions in their country. Fierce, strong, smart, compassionate, and beautiful, the women of Wakanda were essential to their nation’s success.

Inspired by real women in African history, Wakanda’s women hit the big screen at a moment when the real world needed to be reminded of the strength, beauty, and necessity of women – particularly Black women. Black Panther not only showcased the power and strength that is the Black woman, but set a precedent to push the film industry as a whole to better represent all women.

How to take action: Donate to The Blackhouse Foundation, a non-profiting working to expand opportunities for Black content creators by providing career pathways in film, television, digital and emerging platforms.

7
Serena Williams

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the legendary athlete and she’s navigated it all with bravery and grace.

7
Serena Williams

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the legendary athlete and she’s navigated it all with bravery and grace.

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Perhaps one of the most memorable quotes of 2018 came from Serena Williams during the US Open. During the tense second set of her losing match against Naomi Osaka, a referee openly accused Williams of breaking the rules by communicating with her coach. Her response: “I don't cheat to win; I'd rather lose.” Despite an emotional and controversial defeat, Williams still had the composure to offer Osaka her congratulations and support while she tearfully accepted her first US Open title.

But that wasn’t Serena Williams’ first show of dignity under pressure this year. During the French Open in May, Williams was criticized for rocking a skin-tight black catsuit — an outfit designed to prevent blood clots from her difficult pregnancy, which itself was documented in the HBO documentary Being Serena — in lieu of a ‘traditional’ tennis skirt. Despite the backlash, the athlete stood firm that it was a selfless statement for all "the moms out there that had a tough pregnancy and have to come back and try to be fierce, in [the] middle of everything.” Spoken like a true class act.

How to take action: Donate to the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.

8
Emma Gonzalez’s Speech Sparks a Movement

In a viral, teary-eyed speech, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas student called “B.S.” on the nation’s precarious stance on gun control.

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Just days after the Parkland school shooting tragedy, 18-year-old Emma González delivered a speech at a gun control rally in Florida that captured the entire country’s attention. As she condemned the NRA and Florida’s gun laws, it was obvious that González embodied a new force in activism. As she wiped away tears, the teen told the nation, “We are going to be the kids that you read about in textbooks.” She was right.

In the wake of the massacre, González and a group of other Parkland survivors worked to turn the horror of their experience into real change, organizing both a nationwide school walkout and the massive March for Our Lives. There, González took the stage yet again. As she stood in front of a sea of people, González remained silent for six minutes and 20 seconds: the same amount of time it took a shooter to kill 17 of her classmates — a chilling and powerful statement action that spoke louder than words.

How to take action: Donate to March for Our Lives to continue fighting for gun reform.

9
Hannah Gadsby

In her Netflix special 'Nannette,' Gadsby artfully redefines what comedy can be.

9
Hannah Gadsby

In her Netflix special 'Nannette,' Gadsby artfully redefines what comedy can be.

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Before Hannah Gadsby’s comedy special Nanette hit Netflix in June, the 40-year-old performer from Tasmania was virtually unknown (to North Americans, at least). In a year when comedy’s badly-behaved men gave everyone a lot to cry about, Gadsby used her platform to make an incredibly strong case for comedians to stop using their craft to make men comfortable about their mistreatment of women.

In turns mesmerizing and gutting, Gadsby’s Nanette launches into an examination of male bad behavior that ranges from harassment to sexual assault, citing high profile examples along the way. She gets personal about her own traumatic moments, and makes clear that she doesn’t want to let women’s victimization — professionally, sexually, or violently — off the hook with a laugh.

Some detractors (particularly those of the white, straight, male variety) have remarked that Gadsby’s special was revealing but ultimately difficult to sit through. Matthew Monagle of Film School Rejects called it “the current heavyweight champion of conversations that may make men feel unwelcome,” adding that it “reinforces the importance of participating in conversations, even if it’s just as a listener, when your ‘welcomeness’ is not a priority.”

For many women, the best imaginable response might be a resounding: “Well, good!”

How to take action: Donate to get involved with Women in Comedy, a non-profit striving to create better representation and experiences for women and minorities in comedy.

10
Meghan Markle Makes Royal History

In the most talked about wedding of the year, the American actress became the first Black woman in modern history to join the British royal family.

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In the midst of a turbulent year, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding served as a beacon of light. In addition to warming the hearts of just about everyone with a pulse, the day was also a historic moment for Black representation. Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry makes her the first woman of color in modern history to become a royal (some historians believe Queen Charlotte may also have had African roots). Additionally, she’s one of the few Americans to be welcomed into Britain's favorite family.

Prior to joining the House of Windsor, Markle regularly used her platform to speak about the importance of feminism and equality and she has shown no signs of straying from that message as the Duchess of Sussex. One of her first initiatives as a royal was helping to produce and promote a charity cookbook comprised of recipes gathered by women whose families lived in Grenfell Tower, a working-class housing complex that succumbed to a massive fire in 2017. While on her tour through Australia and New Zealand, Markle also dedicated one of her first official speeches to the importance of New Zealand’s suffrage movement.

How to take action: Help make Meghan Markle’s first charitable endeavor a success and the families of the Grenfell Tower fire rebuild by purchasing Together: Our Community Cookbook.

11
Tammy Duckworth

This year, the junior senator became the first sitting senator to give birth while in office. She also made history again just 10 days later by bringing her baby to the Senate floor to vote.

11
Tammy Duckworth

This year, the junior senator became the first sitting senator to give birth while in office. She also made history again just 10 days later by bringing her baby to the Senate floor to vote.

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When Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth entered the Senate floor with her 10-day-old baby in tow, she wasn’t just bringing the newborn to meet her co-workers. She was making history.

Just a day before, the Senate unanimously voted to amend a longstanding rule which banned children from entering the Senate floor. The rule change, spearheaded by Sen. Duckworth, now allows Senators to bring children under a year old onto the Senate floor during votes. They may also breastfeed. The move allowed Sen. Duckworth to participate in the vote to confirm the next NASA administrator.

By simply giving birth to her daughter Maile, Duckworth became the first sitting US Senator to ever give birth while in office. In a statement about her daughter’s arrival she told the press, “As tough as juggling the demands of motherhood and being a Senator can be, I’m hardly alone or unique as a working parent, and my children only make me more committed to doing my job and standing up for hardworking families everywhere.”

How to take action: Donate to Catalyst, a global nonprofit working with some of the world’s most powerful CEOs and leading companies to build workplaces that work for women.

12
Michelle Obama's Portrait Stuns

Amy Sherald’s painting of Michelle Obama for the National Portrait Gallery is not only a modern masterpiece but a new symbol of diversity and representation.

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After eight years with the Obamas in the White House, we’ve come to learn that they do things a little differently from others in Washington. Their official portraits were no exception. On a day that typically flies under the radar, both President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama arrived for the unveiling of their official portraits at the National Portrait Gallery. But as the curtains opened onto the two canvases, the event transformed from presidential routine into a historic moment in art.

While Michelle and Barack are the first African-American couple to be represented in the gallery they made the moment even more revolutionary by both choosing Black artists to depict them. Kehinde Wiley painted President Obama amidst lush greenery, depicted with his trademark composed-but-chill demeanor. Amy Sherald portrayed the former first lady as goddess-like, dressed in a flowing white gown and regal posture. Both portraits look nothing like the presidential paintings produced in years past. They’re both, well, significantly cooler.

The historical implications of the paintings were not lost on Mrs. Obama. In a speech at the event, she told the audience she was “thinking about all of the young people, particularly girls and girls of color, who, in years ahead, will come to this place and they will look up and they will see an image of someone who looks like them hanging on the wall of this great American institution.”

How to take action: Donate to the National Association of Women Artists, an organization striving to support its members through exhibitions, programs and education.

13
Female Olympians Shine

From Chloe Kim’s rockstar run down the half-pipe to the hockey team’s high-stakes shootout, the women in PyeongChang cleaned up at the 2018 winter games.

13
Female Olympians Shine

From Chloe Kim’s rockstar run down the half-pipe to the hockey team’s high-stakes shootout, the women in PyeongChang cleaned up at the 2018 winter games.

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It’s not often that 17-year-old snowboards down a half-pipe already knowing she’s won the Olympic gold medal, but so goes the story of Chloe Kim’s first Olympic games. Enamored with her awe-inspiring talent and playful sense of humor, the world fell in love with this young superstar during the winter games. But Kim was only one of the numerous American women athletes who sparkled with medals during the 2018 Olympics.

Figure skater Mirai Nagasu sent the world spinning when she became the first woman to land a triple axel. Snowboarder Jamie Anderson was the first female snowboarder to win two gold medals. And in a nail-biting game, the women’s USA hockey team defeated Canada for the first time in 20 years – largely thanks to 20-year-old goalie Maddie Rooney blocking four of the six shots taken by Canada in the high-stakes shootout.

How to take action: Donate to the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.

14
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford

She didn’t want the world to know her name, but in an effort to oppose Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, she told her story anyway.

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It seemed that, overnight, all of America knew Christine Blasey Ford’s name. The 51-year-old California professor made international headlines when she publicly accused then-Supreme Court nominee and now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her in high school, calling out publicly that she felt he didn’t deserve a seat on the nation’s highest court.

As the world watched, she bravely recounted her experience in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings for the SCOTUS seat. “I am here today not because I want to be. I’m terrified. I’m here because I believe it is my civic duty to tell you what happened to me while Brett Kavanaugh and I were in high school,” she began her opening statement as the room fell silent to her words.

Kavanaugh was ultimately confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the Supreme Court, but her bravery started a national conversation. During Ford’s four-hour testimony, C-SPAN opened up its phone lines to viewers, and aired calls from women who shared their own moving and emotional stories of harassment and abuse. A rally convened in solidarity with Ford outside of the courthouse, while social media platforms flooded with the hashtags #believesurvivors and #whyididntreport.

While her claims were ultimately minimally investigated, Ford’s strength served as a stark reminder that women’s voices — and their courage to come forward with their own experiences — will be the driving force in the fight to bring justice to victims of sexual assault worldwide.

How to take action: Donate to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) – or do one better and learn how to get involved by volunteering, spreading the word, and fundraising.

15
Asian Actresses Take the Lead

Whether they were romping through Singapore or making out with Peter Kavinsky, Asian actresses enjoyed a much-overdue foray into mainstream Hollywood productions.

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Asian Actresses Take the Lead

Whether they were romping through Singapore or making out with Peter Kavinsky, Asian actresses enjoyed a much-overdue foray into mainstream Hollywood productions.

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After decades of being relegated to sidekick and background roles, Asian actresses took center stage in a big way in 2018. August alone saw two Asian-American women play leads in critically beloved rom-coms: Lana Condor starred in Netflix's surprise hit To All the Boys I've Loved Before (opposite the internet's boyfriend, Noah Centineo), and Constance Wu charmed the masses in the box-office smash Crazy Rich Asians, which also had the distinction of being the first modern Hollywood film with an all-Asian cast since 1993's The Joy Luck Club. And let's not forget rapper-turned-actress Awkwafina, who, after breakout roles in Crazy Rich Asians and Ocean's 8, became the first Asian woman to host SNL since Lucy Liu did it 18 years ago. Or Sandra Oh, whose performance in Killing Eve made her the first-ever woman of Asian descent to earn an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.

Of course, Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of representation and inclusivity. As others have pointed out, Crazy Rich Asians depicts just one slice of the Asian experience, and many voices and stories have yet to be heard. But thanks to stars like Wu, Condor, Awkwafina, and Oh — who showed new generations of Asian girls and women that, yes, you can be the hero of your own story — people are finally listening.

How to take action: Donate to the Center for Asian American Media, a nonprofit dedicated to presenting stories that convey the richness and diversity of Asian American experiences to the broadest audience possible.

16
Reese Witherspoon

America’s sweetheart is using her Hollywood clout to fund female-driven productions.

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There's truly no slowing down this cheery Southern gal, who has now been wowing us on the silver screen for decades. In early 2018, the powerhouse kicked off the year by stepping up her activism game as a founding member of the Time’s Up movement, publicly showing her support on the Red Carpet by sporting the all-black attire with other female celebrities at the 2018 Golden Globes.

But the 42-year-old actress didn’t stop there in her fight to make the industry for women. Through her celebrated production company Hello Sunshine, Witherspoon both produced and starred in HBO’s hit series Big Little Lies, which casts five women in leading roles. She is also set to co-produce Hulu's upcoming series Little Fires Everywhere which provides a difficult yet honest narrative on the complications of motherhood.

And if that’s not enough, Witherspoon also recently kicked-off her talk show Shine on with Reese and published her first book Whiskey in a Teacup – all while continuing to grow her Southern-inspired clothing brand Draper James and monthly book club. We can’t help but wonder, is Witherspoon shaping up to be the next Oprah?

How to take action: Donate to or get involved with Women in Film, an organization advocating for the advancement of careers for women working in the screen industries.

17
Women Unite Against Larry Nassar

After years of predatory behavior by the former doctor, his victims formed a united front to bring an end to his abuse.

17
Women Unite Against Larry Nassar

After years of predatory behavior by the former doctor, his victims formed a united front to bring an end to his abuse.

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“I didn’t think I would be here today. I was scared and nervous. It wasn’t until I started watching the impact statements from the other brave survivors that I realized I, too, needed to be here,” began gymnast Aly Raisman in her testimony against her abuser, former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. With defiance, Raisman looked at Nassar and told him, “Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing.”

Judge Rosemarie Aquilina, who would ultimately decide Nassar’s fate and sentence, asked over 160 other women and girls who experienced Nassar’s abuse to come before a Michigan courtroom and make their voices heard and make him listen to them. One after the other, these brave women gave their testimony — some through tears, all with anger. In the end, these accusers not only took down Nassar, but also, over the following months, dozens of others within the institutions that helped prop him up.

In the end, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison. Judge Aquilina had the final word. “Your decision to assault was precise, calculated, manipulative, devious, despicable,” she said as she delivered the sentence. “I just signed your death warrant.”

How to take action: Donate to RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) – or do one better and learn how to get involved by volunteering, spreading the word, and fundraising.

18
Becky Hammon

This year, Hammon became the first woman to ever interview for a head coaching position in the NBA.

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Will Becky Hammon become the NBA’s first female head coach? We’re betting on it. After a 16-season WNBA career, Hammon decided it was time to step off the court. But a chance encounter with beloved San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich helped Hammon secure an unprecedented next step: a position as the first-ever female assistant coach for an NBA team.

Since accepting the job with the Spurs in 2014, Hammon has proven she’s not only diversifying the boy’s club, but she’s damn good at her job. In 2015, Hammon became the first female head coach in the NBA Summer League and led the Spurs to a Las Vegas championship. This year, Hammon received a handful of newsworthy coaching opportunities, most notably a chance to interview for a head coach position for the Milwaukee Bucks. While she was ultimately not offered the job, she is still the first woman ever to be considered for a head coaching position – and where there’s smoke there’s fire.

How to take action: Donate to the Women’s Sports Foundation, an organization founded by tennis legend Billie Jean King dedicated to creating leaders by ensuring all girls access to sports.

19
Beyoncé Slays Coachella

Bey’s groundbreaking performance will go down as one of the greatest live performances of all time.

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Beyoncé Slays Coachella

Bey’s groundbreaking performance will go down as one of the greatest live performances of all time.

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Has there ever been a moment more worthy of FOMO than Beyoncé’s Coachella performance? After canceling her headlining show in 2017 due to her pregnancy, Beyoncé made good on her promise to return the following year. The veteran performer rarely disappoints on stage, but this time, Bey took things to unprecedented heights. In a 26-song set, she belted out her biggest hits – some with the help of all-star surprise guests like Jay-Z, her sister Solange, and former Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.

Her performance marked the first time Coachella hosted a Black female headliner in its 19-year history – and Beyoncé certainly leaned into the importance of the moment. The entire show served as a roaring tribute to Black college culture. With marching band, drumline performances, and step choreography, she showcased the HBCU experience. With her rendition of “Lift Every Song and Voice,” she honored a song that’s often referred to as the “Black national anthem.” And with readings and audio snippets, she highlighted the work and words of Black activists like Malcolm X, Nina Simone, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. After her artistic contribution to the Black community, Beyoncé decided to also offer something more concrete: $100,000 in scholarships to historically Black colleges.

How to take action: Follow in Bey’s footsteps by donating to the National Association For Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the non-profit umbrella organization of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

20
Donna Strickland

The 55-year-old scientist became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physics since 1963.

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In October, 59-year-old Donna Strickland became the third woman in 118 years to win the Nobel Prize in physics — only Marie Curie (in 1903) and Maria Goeppert-Mayer (in 1963) had previously earned the prestigious award throughout its history.

Women are notoriously underrepresented in STEM, a discrepancy that countless non-profit organizations, brand campaigns, and educational initiatives are constantly working to address. Research has even shown that women are less inclined to choose majors that would lead to STEM careers based on the gender-based discrimination evident in those fields. Because of STEM’s high-profile woman question, Strickland’s major win became major news.

But the Canadian professor would prefer not to be thought of as a “woman in science” but as, simply, “a scientist.”

“I didn’t think [gender] would be the big story,” Strickland told The Guardian weeks after her win. “I thought the big story would be the science.” One day, thanks to scientists like Strickland, it will be.

How to take action: Donate to the Association for Women in Science, a global network that inspires bold leadership, research, and solutions that advance women in STEM.

EDITORS:

Cortney Clift, Annette Cardwell, Kelli Korducki, Allison Takeda, Anjelika Temple

WRITERS:

Cortney Clift, Lindsey Graham-Jones, Kelli Korducki, Sarah Koller, Annette Cardwell, Magdalena O’Neal, Allison Takeda, Kris Stewart

DESIGN AND SITE MANAGEMENT:

Casey Callahan, Carrie Strine

MARKETING:

Ericha Richards, Kara Schab, Sarah Sheppard, Shannon Murphy