Last week, most covers of national newspapers and magazines were devoted to the bombing of the Boston Marathon and subsequent manhunt for the men responsible for the attack. By Thursday, April 18, photos of who we now know are Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were released, and news outlets and Internet forums spread the images across print and digital platforms.
The horrific images of victims and heartbreaking photos of memorials to those hurt or killed eclipsed seven portraits on seven editions of TIME’s magazine, which celebrated the 100 most influential people in the world.
At a time where many of us are looking for some semblance of good in the world, it’s a perfect time to celebrate the artists, philanthropists, business owners and leaders trying to positively impact the science, health, music industries and more.
Of course, TIME’s list is nowhere near comprehensive: Of the 100, only 35 are women, and only six are women of color. Men dominate every list of “Titans,” “Pioneers,” “Leaders,” and “Artists,” and women only out number men in the “Icons” category, which isn’t well defined and includes writers, singers, actors and celebrities.
Among those women named in TIME’s 100 are Queen Beyoncé (as well as hubby Jay-Z), J-Law, fresh from her Oscar win, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and “Lean In” fame, and Malala Yousafzai, who could win the Nobel Peace Prize in December.
Among the household names of Kate Middleton and Christina Aguilera are tucked several women who, while maybe not as prominent in the public eye, have made just as critical of contributions to their fields and humanity. These are five of TIME’s 100 women you should know more about:
Titan Shonda Rhimes
When you think “Scandal,” you think Kerry Washington as the politically savvy Olivia Pope. “Grey’s Anatomy,” you think sexy hospital drama with McDreamy Patrick Dempsey.
Behind the scenes of the glamorous casts and riveting plotlines is one woman: Shonda Rhimes, the creator of both shows, as well as “Anatomy” spinoff “Private Practice.” Rhimes is not your typical Hollywood mogul, which is probably why her shows don’t star your typical A-listers. She is a plus-size woman of color putting other women of color at the forefront of primetime TV as multidimensional characters, not token tropes.
Kelsey Bain wrote more on why “Scandal” is such an amazing show.
Leader Kamala Harris
When you Google “Kamala Harris,” the search returns dozens of articles about the “by far the best-looking attorney general in the country,” as she was called by President Obama earlier in April.
What you should be reading about California’s first black, South Asian and woman attorney general is her fight to reverse same-sex marriage ban Proposition 8, which is currently being argued in the Supreme Court.
While it’s usually the state attorney general to defend state law, which currently defines marriage in California as between a man and a woman, Harris refused to defend legislation that violates the Constitution. She’s also working to better monitor prescription drug use and potential abuse, seize guns obtained illegally (she also defended the now dead gun control legislation), and could be a powerful female candidate in the 2016 election. None of which depend on her appearance, Mr. President.
Pioneers Hannah Gay, Katherine Luzuriaga and Deborah Persaud
Just a month before TIME’s 100 was set to print, the scientific community was freaking out over what could be the biggest breakthrough in HIV/AIDS research. Two and a half years after swift intensive treatment of an HIV-positive Mississippi baby, no signs of the virus show in clinical tests – what is called a “functional cure.”
What was less publicized in the media is that the three scientists responsible for this groundbreaking research are all women. Hannah Gay is a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi. Katherine Luzuriaga is an immunologist from the University of Massachusetts. And Deborah Persaud is a virologist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.
More than 300,000 babies are born with HIV every year. Were this treatment found effective for more patients and made widely accessible, these women’s scientific contribution could turn the tide on the battle for a cure.
Icon Li Na
While we might think nothing of posting a Facebook status or firing off a Tweet on our smartphone, the tech-savvy youth of China don’t have that luxury. The Chinese government regulates everything from media to athletics – but some are fighting back.
Li Na, the 2011 French Open champion, worked with three other Chinese tennis players to persuade the government’s Chinese Tennis Association to let them “fly alone,” or manage their own careers.
Now, Chinese athletes can keep up to 88% of their profits, up from 35%, choose their own coaches, and set their own training schedules. Which is awesome, seeing as after Na became the first Asian-born tennis player to win a Grand Slam singles tournament, the nation’s population of tennis players rose to 15 million.
Artist Jenna Lyons
Huge glasses? Floral pants? Sequins? Jenna Lyons wore them all before you ever read about them in Vogue, and probably looked more fabulous than the models.
Lyons has spent 22 of her 44 years building J. Crew into a mall and outlet staple, and was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year last November. The company’s executive creative director AND president used the opportunity to come out with her relationship with Courtney Crangi (also a fashion force to be reckoned with).
Creative fashion design, cohesive products and marketing, and brand new store and catalog layouts saved the brand from floundering, instead making its clothes and accessories trendsetters in the industry. If her business savvy isn’t impressive enough, she has almost 300 pairs of shoes, which at least makes her the luckiest person on earth.
Written by Lauren Slavin
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