Many famous women who had an impact on women’s history called Ohio home at one point or another. Harriet Beecher Stowe, Annie Oakley, and Victoria Woodhull are all influential women who got their start in Ohio and made their mark on the world. Here is a list of modern Ohio women that have followed the path of the powerful women before them and continue to break the glass ceiling.
Jeni Britton-Bauer, Ice Cream Maker and Entrepreneur
Jeni Britton Bauer didn’t always dream of being an ice cream empress. In fact, before she the queen of ice cream, she was a student at Ohio State University studying art history and fine art. After discovering her passion for making fun flavors, Britton-Bauer founded Jeni’s Ice Cream in 2002. With national recognition and a coveted James Beard Award under her belt, this modern Ohio woman is now a household name.
Aminah Robinson, Artist
Known for combining traditional art materials with banal everyday objects, Columbus-born-and-raised artist Aminah Robinson has made a name for herself in the art scene. Robinson’s artwork has been exhibited in multiple museums and galleries throughout the United States, and she has received multiple awards and accolades during her tenure, including a MacArthur Fellowship in 2002.
Celeste Ng, Author
Shaker Heights native, Celeste Ng is the New York Times bestselling author of two novels, Everything I Never Told You and Little Fires Everywhere. Taking inspiration from her childhood, both books are set in Ohio. Make sure to read Little Fires Everywhere before it premieres as a Hulu original series on March 18, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.
Toni Morrison, Author
Prior to receiving multiple accolades and national attention, Toni Morrison was Chloe Ardelia Wofford, born in Lorain, Ohio. Morrison first found fame with her critically acclaimed novel Song of Solomon, which won the National Book Critics Award. Morrison later won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Beloved, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993 and presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012.
Gloria Steinem, Journalist
Leader and spokeswoman for the American feminist movement in the 1960s and 1970s, Gloria Steinem is one of the most recognized feminists in the world. Born in Toledo, Ohio, Steinem has authored countless works and received numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2013 and the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum in 2019.
Sunita Williams, Astronaut
Before she took her first steps on the moon, Sunita Williams took her first steps ever in Euclid, Ohio. An American astronaut and United States Navy officer who formerly held the records for total spacewalks by a woman and most spacewalk time for a woman, Williams is an exceptional example of modern women that have reached new heights.
Stephanie Hightower, Olympic Athlete
Ohio State University graduate Stephanie Hightower is a four-time U.S. Champion at 100-meter hurdles and a five-time U.S. Indoor Champion at 60-meter hurdles. Hightower was set to compete in the Olympics after winning the Olympic Trials in 1980 but was prevented from doing so due to the United States’ boycott of the Moscow Olympics. Hightower is still setting records, however, as the eighth president and CEO, and first female president and CEO, of the Columbus Urban League.
Maya Lin, Architect
During her senior year at Yale University, Maya Lin entered a nationwide competition to design a monument to be erected in honor of the soldiers who fought in the Vietnam War. At the age of 21, the Athens, Ohio native gained national attention when her design won first place in the contest and the monument was slated to be built in the National Mall in Washington, D.C.