Women on Quarters

With the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020, the U.S. Congress directed the Secretary of the Treasury to design and issue coins in each of the years 2022 through 2025 that feature accomplished U.S. women. The women must no longer be living, and their contributions can be in fields including but not limited to suffrage, civil rights, abolition, government, humanities, science, space and the arts. Five women will be featured in each of the four years of the program. The five women to be featured on the 2022 quarters include Anna May Wong, Adelina Otero-Warren, Maya Angelou, Sally Ride and Wilma Mankiller.

Adelina Otero-Warren

A leader in the New Mexico’s women’s suffrage movement, Adelina Otero-Warren was the first Hispanic woman to run for U.S. Congress and the first female superintendent of the schools in Santa Fe. She became active in the suffrage movement, insisting on materials that were published in Spanish in addition to English. In 1917, she became chair of what would be known as the National Woman’s Party; a group under the leadership of Alice Paul that used tactics viewed as militant to advocate for suffrage.

In 1917, she was appointed superintendent of the Santa Fe public schools and won the election against a male opponent in 1918, remaining in the role until 1929. In 1922, she became the first Hispanic woman to run for the U.S. Congress, when she won the Republican nomination against a male opponent. She remained active in local and state government for the rest of her career.

Anna May Wong

Anna May Wong is one of the more than 1,200 women featured in co-author Jill Tietjen’s second book in the Her Story series, Hollywood: Her Story, An Illustrated History of Women and the Movies. She was the first Chinese-American entertainment star to be recognized internationally. Wong’s forty-year career as an actress started in the silent film era and extended through talkies, radio and television. In 1922, she acted in the silent movie The Toll of the Sea, which was one of the first movies made in color.

One of the first to embrace the flapper look, Wong was a fashion icon during the 1920s and 1930’s. Stung by the severe disappointment of  not being cast in the lead role in the 1935 movie based on Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, Wong returned to make television history in 1951 when she had her own television show – the first featuring an Asian-American series lead – The Gallery of Madame Liu-Tsong.

Maya Angelou has inspired generations of women as a role model who defied social norms and overcame prejudice, discrimination and abuse. After being raped by her mother’s boyfriend, she withdrew and was mute for five years. With her grandmother’s encouragement, she gradually emerged as a very talented artist; she worked as an actor before turning to writing. In 1970, her first autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, became a best seller and was nominated for a National Book Award.

In 1972, Angelou became the first African-American woman to have a feature film developed from her work; it was the screenplay and musical score Georgia Georgia. Her writings have brought her numerous awards and she has been nominated for a Tony, an Emmy, and a Pulitzer Prize. Angelou received more than 50 honorary doctorates and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She says: “How important it is for us to recognize our heroes and she-roes!”

Sally Ride

The first U.S. female astronaut in space, Sally Ride made two trips aboard a space shuttle. She later encouraged children to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Ride grew up in California where she was a star tennis player. She attended Stanford University, majored in physics as an undergraduate and also earned her masters and doctoral degrees there. She was one of the first six women selected to train as astronauts in 1978. Her first flight was aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.  During that flight, Ride operated the robotic arm.  The crew successfully launched satellites and performed the first successful satellite retrieval and deployment.  Her second flight was in 1984, also aboard the space shuttle Challenger. She again successfully operated the robotic arm to remove ice from the shuttle’s exterior and to adjust a radar antenna.

Later Ride served on committees investigating the Challenger and Columbia shuttle tragedies, taught college physics and started Sally Ride Science, to encourage children, especially girls, to pursue STEM careers. She also wrote science-related books for children. In addition to being featured on a 2018 U.S. postage stamp, Ride has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom posthumously.

Wilma Mankiller

In 1985, Wilma Mankiller became the first woman to serve as the head of a major Native American tribe in North America when she was elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. Although she was born in Oklahoma, the family relocated to San Francisco when she was young. Mankiller’s activism was inspired in 1969 when a group of Native Americans took over Alcatraz Island, outside of San Francisco, to protest the suffering of their people. She said, “When Alcatraz occurred, I became aware of what needed to be done to let the rest of the world know that Indians had rights, too.”

Mankiller worked first to empower the Native Americans in California. After her divorce, she moved back to Oklahoma with her two daughters; she was determined to help her tribe. During her ten yeas as Principal Chief, the population grew from 68,000 members to 170,000. Infant mortality was reduced, and educational, healthcare, and housing opportunities were enhanced. Mankiller was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. She said, “A lot of young girls have looked to their career paths and have said they’d like to be chief.  There’s been a change in the limits people see.”

Most of these accomplished women to be featured on U.S. quarters, as well as many other women, almost all of whom we have not heard about nor learned about in school, are profiled in our book, Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America. Help us by continuing to tell the stories of the women who came before us, on whose shoulders we all stand. Tell young women especially so they understand that they can dream BIG, and then make their dreams a reality.

Jill Tietjen
Author: Jill Tietjen

Jill S. Tietjen, PE, is an author, national speaker, and an electrical engineer. After 40 years in the electric utility industry, her professional focus is now on women’s advocacy, worldwide. She blogs for The Huffington Post, speaks nationally on the accomplishments of women, nominates women for awards, and continues to write books (8 published to date), following in the footsteps of her bestselling and award-winning book, Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America (written with Charlotte Waisman). She is a frequent keynote speaker as her positive energy and her ability to relate to the audience result in inspired and energized listeners. The recipient of many awards, her induction into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in 2010 remains one of her most treasured.

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