Women Making Waves In Science, Politics and Business

It’s Women’s History Month, a time to honor those who have paved the way for all of us, and call attention to the women who are making a difference today.

These six women have inspired us with their passion and drive:

1. Amanda Folendorf

First deaf female mayor in the U.S.

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Amanda Folendorf

Amanda Folendorf was born and raised in the small California town of Angels Camp, about two hours southeast of Sacramento. Earlier this year, Folendorf, 31, became the city’s youngest-ever mayor, and the country’s very first deaf female mayor.

“It’s an honor to be the ‘first’ at something,” she said. “My goal was to give back and pave the way to show my community that our generation needs to be proactive in planning for its future. (I) had no idea that by doing this (I) would be breaking the glass ceiling across the nation.”

2. Zainab Salbi

Journalist and women’s rights activist

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Zainab Salbi

As the host of PBS series “#MeToo, Now What?,” Zainab Salbi talked with people around the country about what the future of the #MeToo movement will be—and how we can all move toward an inclusive culture free of sexual assault and harassment.

“My advice for women and men: Stay in the uncomfortable place—stay and push forward,” Salbi said. “There will be a way out of this, and the only way for all of us to get out of this is actually if we have the uncomfortable conversations today—not tomorrow, today.”

3. Katharine Hayhoe

Bridge-building climate scientist

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Katharine Hayhoe. Photo Credit: Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

Katharine Hayhoe researches climate change. But she takes her profession as a scientist one step further—she uses what she knows, as well as her background in the Christian faith, to encourage people of all kinds to join the movement to end climate change.

Hayhoe hosts PBS Digital Series “Global Weirding,” where she discusses the intersection of science, politics and faith. She believes that people of any stripe can and should get involved in a climate solution.

“Join an organization that will help you amplify your voice,” she said. “What type of organization? … There’s organizations for moms, like Moms Clean Air Force. There’s organizations for skiers and snowboarders, like Protect Our Winters. There’s organizations for evangelicals, like Young Evangelicals for Climate Action. There’s organizations for libertarians, like the Niskanen (Center), or for free-market economists, like the (Energy & Enterprise Initiative).”

4. Mita Shewakramani

Third-generation family business owner

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Mita Shewakramani (right) talks with her grandmother, inside Regal Jewels, one of her family’s three Chicago stores. Photo by Brian Nordli.

Mita Shewakramani can still remember her first sale at her father’s Chicago sari shop. She was six years old, and the business, Regal Traders, was packed with customers. A customer needed just the right color of fabric. Shewakramani jumped into action, finding the matching material and making the one-dollar sale. Her father, Nirmal Shewakramani, watched on with pride.

“It was like, ‘Alright, now go do it again,’ ” said Mita Shewakramani, now 30 years old, laughing.

Now the family owns and operates three stores, which Mita Shewakramani will one day take over with her two siblings, carrying on the tradition her grandparents started with their own sari shop in Kolcata. Meanwhile, she operates a law firm within the family business, too.

5. Ky and Mel Guse

Fermentation champs

When produce goes out of season, how can you eat local year-round? Through fermentation! Sisters Ky and Mel Guse own and operate GYST Fermentation Bar, where almost everything is fermented to stinky, nutritious, delicious perfection. It’s good for you and good for the environment.

Katie Moritz

Katie Moritz is Rewire’s senior editor and a Pisces who enjoys thrift stores, rock concerts and pho. She covered politics for a newspaper in Juneau, Alaska, before driving down to balmy Minnesota to help produce long-standing public affairs show “Almanac” at Twin Cities PBS. Now she works on this here website. Reach her via email at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz and on Instagram @yepilikeit.