Three women mathematicians smiling
About the image

University of Chicago Mathematics Graduate Students Julia Bower, Abba Newton and Frances Baker in 1933. Unknown photographer. Gift of Julia Bower.

My story is the nation’s story.

Who are these women? Do you know their stories and the contributions they made? We invite you to learn about them and how the Smithsonian honors their legacies. 

Lisa Jaster in her military uniform
I shed my camouflage.
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Lisa Jaster

Major in the U.S. Army Reserve, Engineer

SIX DAYS into Ranger School, I was exhausted. Every second of every day I was on my feet, running through woods or swamps. The Army’s Ranger School is one of the toughest courses in the military.

I was in the first class that allowed women. But, I was like a unicorn. I looked different, sounded funny and was older — a mother. When other soldiers saw me, they didn’t know how to react.

I kept thinking about young women launching their careers. I needed to set the example. Three of us made it through.

Lisa Jaster’s uniform is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of bravery and perseverance.


Photo: Hill, Glynn A., “Ranger School Grad Wanted to Prove that Women Aren’t So Weak,”  Houston Chronicle, September 17, 2016 © Houston Chronicle. PHOTO YI-CHIN LEE

Content: Laura Hambleton interview with Lisa Jaster, 2017, Smithsonian

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Muriel Siebert smiling while seated at a desk
I took a seat at the table.
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Muriel Siebert


I ARRIVED IN New York with $500, a used Studebaker and a dream. As a financial analyst, I earned 60 percent of what men were paid. I asked a client where I could go to find equal pay. He said, “You won’t. Buy a seat. Work for yourself.”

My application for a seat on the New York Stock Exchange turned Wall Street upside down. Never had a woman applied.

I bought the seat. In 1967, I was the only woman among 1,365 men. Within six months, I had a legitimate office. You have to have faith in yourself and believe “I can do it.”

Muriel Siebert’s portrait is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of challenging the rules.


Photo: Muriel Siebert, the 38-year-old analyst, is pleased at hearing she was elected to the New York Stock Exchange, January 16, 1968. Getty Images, Bettman/Contributor

Content: Muriel Siebert, “Muriel Siebert: First Lady of Wall Street,” Makers Profile, 2013

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A young Sandra Day O'Connor obscured by a palm tree
I wore my robe to work.
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Sandra Day O'Connor

Supreme Court Justice

I WAS IN my office in Arizona when the phone rang. It was President Ronald Reagan. “Sandra, I’d like to announce your appointment tomorrow to the Supreme Court. Is that okay with you?” From that day on my life changed.

As the first female justice, I didn’t have a choice of robes. Most of what was available was a choir or academic robe. I brought my judicial robe from Arizona.

No one made collars for women. The only place I could find them was in Europe. I did manage to get one or two from France.

Sandra Day O’Connor’s robe, worn at her swearing-in, is at the Smithsonian. It will be used to tell her story and other women’s stories of blazing new trails.


Photo: Sandra Day O’Connor ducks behind a potted plant before making a statement to reporters after she was named to the United States Supreme Court, September 15, 1981, AP Images PHOTO DENNIS COOK

Content: Terry Gross, Fresh Air, WHYY, March 5, 2013 Jan Smith, interview with Sandra Day O’Connor, 2015. National Portrait Gallery; Sandra Day O’Connor Explores Supreme Court History, Inner Workings, PBS NewsHour, April 4, 2013

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