Unusual stories of remarkable women


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Unusual stories of remarkable women

In light of Women’s History Month, this post offers a few examples of remarkable women who bear no relation to CRA (though the women at CRA are remarkable!), but whose stories I find interesting and unusual. If you’d like to know what women at the firm think about working here, I recommend the collection of quotations in this post. I wholeheartedly agree with their depiction of CRA’s culture as meritocratic and inclusive.

The statutory origins of Women’s History Month trace to the 97th Congress’ resolution of Public Law 97-28 and President Reagan’s issuance of Presidential Proclamation 4903, which declared March 7, 1982 Women’s History Week. The week expanded to a month in 1987, under Pub. L. 100-9 and President Reagan’s Presidential Proclamation 5619. The first of the proclamations remembers the women “pioneers, teachers, mothers, homemakers, soldiers, nurses and laborers” who “played and continue to play a vital role in American economic, cultural and social life.” Here are examples of the women President Reagan was referring to:

Kate Gleason: Among other things, Kate Gleason was a homemaker. She designed “monolithic concrete houses” which were fireproof and affordable. For more on these practical dwellings, see “How a Woman Builds Houses to Sell at a Profit for $4,000” in Concrete, a trade publication I never thought I’d read. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has an interesting biography here.

Elizabeth A. Richardson: Elizabeth Richardson worked in a Clubmobile during World War II, a single-decker bus outfitted to provide coffee and doughnuts to American soldiers. As James H. Madison explains in his fascinating article “Wearing Lipstick to War,” a Clubmobile would arrive at camp, and “soon there were smells of hot coffee and doughnuts, a scent of perfume, a flash of lipstick, a smile, and  a cheery ‘hello, soldier, where you from?’” Madison describes these women as smart, sophisticated, and essential to the war effort.

Martha J. Coston: Martha Coston was a widow with four children at the age of 21. Undeterred by misfortune, she built on her husband’s work to develop the Coston flare, which was first used by the Union Navy as a means of communication. After the war, the Coast Guard and other seafarers, including those aboard the Titanic, used her flares as emergency signals. The New York Times offers an intriguing article about Martha Coston, cleverly titled “A Woman With Flare,” and MIT discusses her invention here.

Hazel Bishop: I feel a debt of gratitude to Hazel Bishop, the chemist and businesswoman who invented long-lasting lipstick in 1949. Women of 1949 must’ve felt the same way, as this lip stain helped drive her cosmetic company’s annual sales over $10 million. For more information, see the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s entry on Hazel Bishop.

“Maude Muller”: “Maude Muller” used a pseudonym because she was a spy for the British government during World War I. Her recruitment was quite by chance: while on holiday in Quebec, she happened to dine with the head of the British intelligence bureau in America and his wife. You’ll want to read this January 27, 1918 Washington Times article to find out how she exposed an elevator boy as a German operative. She attributes her success to naiveté and inexperience, which gives me hope. Feminine charm played an important role, too. I look forward to reading the second article of the Maude Muller Secret Service Series, “The Cake with the Hollow Center.”