New year, new ceilings to shatter. 2021 is no exception. Women continue to break through barriers and redefine the industries they are in. Our series “Lionesses This Month” highlights some female powerhouses making headlines as we enter a new year.
Here are the featured women for January 2021:
Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett
Dr. Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Corbett is the scientific lead for the National Institute of Health’s Coronavirus Vaccines & Immunopathogenesis Team. Her work as an expert on the front lines of the Moderna SARS-CoV-2 vaccine brings her to the top of our Lionesses list this month. Moderna’s vaccine has been shown to be 90% effective and is one of two FDA-approved mRNA vaccines currently available. Dr. Corbett’s experience as a viral immunologist makes her a key player in the “science that could end the pandemic” according to ABC News.
Rashida Jones will take over for Phil Griffin as MSNBC president on February 1, 2021. Currently, Jones oversees MSNBC’s daytime and weekend programming as senior vice president at NBC News and MSNBC. During the past year, Jones has been an essential guide for the network’s coverage of the pandemic, social justice protests, and 2020 election. This promotion makes Jones the most prominent black woman in the cable news industry, according to NBC News.
Dr. Jill Biden (And, yes, she should use the Dr. title.)
Dr. Jill Biden will continue teaching at Northern Virginia Community College after moving to the White House later this month. “Dr. B,” as she is known to her students, is thought to be the first woman to continue her professional career alongside her role as the first lady. According to Politico, her roles as an educator and first lady will be intertwined, similar to her time as second lady, as Biden recalled in her 2019 memoir ‘Where the Light Enters’. Biden, 69 made history as the first second lady to continue working during her husband’s career as Vice President 2008-2017. Dr. Biden will also be noted as one of the highest educated first ladies, holding two master’s degrees and a doctorate in educational leadership.
Last month, the Wall Street Journal printed an OpEd by Joseph Epstein calling for Dr. Jill Biden to forgo the use of her earned title of Dr, saying only medical doctors should use the title. The piece starts off by calling the soon-to-be First Lady “kiddo”, a blatant attempt at infantilizing. The author and the WSJ tried to excuse by saying soon-to-be President Biden himself used the term in a speech. (Helpful hint – avoid spousal nicknames unless it’s your marriage.)
In the last four months, MacKenzie Scott gave away more than $4 billion to support organizations economically suffering during the pandemic. The gifts were unrestricted, given to 384 unique organizations across the United States. NPR notes that the organizations include “those that fulfill basic needs, such as food banks and emergency relief funds” as well as “longer-term problems, systemic inequities that have been deepened by the crisis.”Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, was a part of the company’s founding and its first accountant. Scott held a 4% stake in the company at the time of the divorce, valued at $37.5 billion in 2019.
On December 14th, Sandra Lindsay became the first person in the United States to get the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials. Lindsay grew up in Jamaica with her grandmother and migrated to the United States in 1986. She has worked as a critical care nurse for over 26 years. Currently, she is the director of critical care at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, New York. Managing all intensive care units in the height of a pandemic, Lindsay saw the need for a vaccine to put an end to the constant suffering and stress her staff was enduring to save lives. “The minute I heard about the vaccine, I said to my friends and family that I would be first in line to take it,” Lindsay told Business Insider. “I was just done seeing all the suffering and the pain and know that this is what we need to put an end to this pandemic. It signifies the beginning of the end of a very dark time for us.”
Women in the Sports Industry
Women are smashing gender norms in the sports industry, in addition to last month’s Lionesses Sarah Fuller and Kim Ng, the following women made headlines in sports recently:
- Bianca Smith was hired as a minor league coach for the Red Sox, making her the first Black woman coach in the MLB’s 151-year history.
- Alyssa Nakken also made history in the MLB as the league’s first female full-time coach, joining the San Francisco Giants’ coaching staff.
- Becky Hammon became the first woman to act as head coach during an NBA regular-season game this December for the San Antonio Spurs.
- Teresa Weatherspoon, a notable WNBA player from 1988-2004, was named full-time assistant coach of the New Orleans Pelicans.
Who did we miss? Who was making history this month?