9 Women in History Who Inspired a More Equitable Modern Workplace
– Celebrating Women’s History Month –
In honor of Women’s History Month, Camber Outdoors recognizes the myriad women who devoted their lives to courage and social progress while pursuing their dreams relentlessly, despite overwhelming societal pushback. Please join us in celebrating these nine women who paved the way for our mission to achieve equity in the outdoor workplace and environment. Without them, the efforts of ourselves and the many others in this space would not be possible.
1. Amanda Theodosia Jones (1835-1914)
A leader in business, Amanda Jones founded the first all-women’s company known as the Women’s Canning and Preserving Company (1890), writing at the business opening: “This is a woman’s industry. No man will vote our stock, transact our business, pronounce on women’s wages, [or] supervise our factories. Give men whatever work is suitable, but keep the governing power… Here is a mission, let it be fulfilled.”
She was also a leader in early engineering when she invented a new method for canning and preserving food known as vacuum canning.
2. Mary Harris Jones a.k.a Mother Jones (1837 – 1930)
Mother Jones was once labeled “the most dangerous women in America” because of her activism in the American Labor Movement which she led for over 25 years. Through her pursuits, she inspired thousands of workers to fight for their rights to a fair working environment, and she’s famous for her West Virginia speech to industrial workers and coal miners delivered on August 15, 1912. In a few words of her own: “Now, then, my brothers, I am not going to be muzzled by the Mail. I have been assassinated by the slimy pig before, but it never made me retreat.”
3. Nellie Bly (1864 – 1922)
Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, best known as Nellie Bly, changed American journalism when she was one of the first to pioneer its investigative form, most famously through her undercover stint to expose the abuse of the mentally ill in psychiatric facilities. She also became an early adventure icon when she made a record-breaking 72-day journey around the globe which blew the fictional story of that era “Around the World in 80 Days” out of the water.
4. Lettie Pate Whitehead (1872-1953)
This businesswoman was one of the first to serve as a director of a major corporation, earning the title when she joined the Coca Cola board of directors in 1934. This position she held for 20 years while also running three businesses (the Whitehead Holding Company, the Whitehead Realty Company, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Atlanta). Lettie used her success in enterprise to become one of the most well-known philanthropists of the time.
5. Katharine Graham (1917-2001)
Katharine Graham—who once called herself a “doormat wife”—holds many historic firsts, most notably, when she became the first woman in history to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company (The Washington Post). Here she earned her title of “most powerful woman in journalism,” and under her leadership, the company’s revenue grew by over $1 billion and published the biggest stories of the era despite numerous threats: the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate scandal. Graham continued on to win a Pulitzer Prize for her memoir, “A Personal History,” in 1998.
6. Marguerite Higgins (1920 – 1966)
A major player in advancing equity for female war correspondents, Marguerite Higgins first persuaded editors to send her to Europe for World War II coverage at the age of 24. She went on to cover front line in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Foreign Correspondence in 1951.
7. Shirley Chisholm (1924 – 2005)
Famous for her speech, “Equal Rights for Women,” given in 1969 to the House of Representatives, Shirley Chisholm was a leading voice in the women’s working rights movements. She addressed congress saying, “Discrimination against women, solely on the basis of their sex, is so widespread that is seems to many persons normal, natural and right… Why is it acceptable for women to be secretaries, librarians, and teachers, but totally unacceptable for them to be managers, administrators, doctors, lawyers, and Members of Congress?”
Chisholm was also the first African American woman to be elected to Congress and the first to seek presidential nomination for a major political party. Her slogan, “Fighting Shirley Chisholm – Unbought and Unbossed,” served her well in 14 years of government work.
8. Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
Alongside her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and in the years after his assassination, Coretta Scott King led the American Civil Rights Movement. She spoke to audiences worldwide including injustices associated with race, economy, gender, sexuality, education, environment, and nuclear weapons—all the while raising four children committed to the same fight. Coretta shared a seat at the table with great leaders such as Corazon Aquino, Kenneth Kaunda, and Nelson Mandela.
Today, her work lives on through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, which she established in 1968, and now receives over one million visitors each year.
9. Ann Krcik (1957-2018)
The active-outdoor industries recognize Ann Krcik as one of its greatest role models and her achievements as one of its greatest assets—leaving no questions as to why she received the 2018 Camber Outdoors Lifetime Achievement Award.
While Ann’s successes emerge across the board, her greatest achievements lie in opening monumental opportunities for women. With Carolyn Cooke, Ann helped found the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition (now Camber Outdoors) which has shifted the workplace paradigm for women across the industry and has springboarded into an organization that represents workplace equity for all people.
She concurrently helped to create a career path for climbers and adventure athletes through her instrumental role in leading the collaboration between brands and athletes for sponsorship opportunities. In the words of a friend, “Our lives, our work, and the impact we make in the world would not be the same without Ann Krcik.”
The life achievements of these nine women have propelled the cause of equity permanently forward, and their legacies will continue to inspire Camber Outdoors in its mission to advance career opportunities, leadership, and entrepreneurship to inspire an outdoors truly for everyone.