Influential Women of 2019

Though there is lots of work to be done, it’s never been a better time to be a woman. As we enter a new decade, hopefully, one that is filled with the continued invigorated fight for equality, it’s important to recognize some of the women who have left their mark on the final year of the 2010s. Though it’s important to note that this list nowhere near fully encompasses all of the amazing women and what they did this year, it’s a jumping-off point to showcase women making a difference in a variety of fields. 

Greta Gerwig (Filmmaking)


Greta Gerwig has had a phenomenal acting career, but it was with her solo directorial debut, Lady Bird, in 2017 that she became one of the most important people in filmmaking. Since then, she has been a voice and advocate for female directors. This year, her second film, Little Women, was released, and while there is already substantial backlash that Gerwig went unrecognized at the recently announced 2020 Golden Globe nominations, Little Women and Gerwig’s work in the filmmaking community have brought both quality work and substantive discussions to the table. 


Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey (Journalism)

In 2017, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey broke the story of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual abuse through their investigative reporting at The New York Times. After helping to launch the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, Kantor and Twohey received the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2018. Since these milestones, in 2019, the two journalists published the book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement. The book chronicles the story of their work on the Weinstein case, illustrating that their work is as relevant as ever in 2019 and will continue to be going forward. 


Sanna Marin (Politics)

On December 10th, 2019, Sanna Marin was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Finland. At the age of 34, she is the world’s youngest currently-serving state leader as well as the third woman and youngest person to ever hold the position of Prime Minister of Finland. In addition to her personal accomplishments, over her term as Prime Minister, Marin will form a coalition government with four other parties, all of which are currently led by women, with three of them being under the age of 35. 


The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team (Sports) This July, the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team beat the Netherlands 2-0, a victory that brought the team their fourth World Cup. With tickets selling out fast and an estimated 1 billion people tuning in to see their matches, the historic win also shed a light on the team’s fight for equal pay. In March of this year, 28 members of the team sued the US Soccer Federation for gender discrimination. With athletic wins under their belt, the number one ranked team (according to FIFA) will continue the fight for equality, hopefully bringing a win for that home soon. 


Greta Thunberg (Activism & Social Justice)

At just sixteen years old, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg became the youngest person to be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. Over the last year, she has been instrumental in putting a spotlight on climate change, whether it was through her organization and participation in climate strikes and protests, speaking to world leaders, or her media presence, all of which has culminated into a nomination for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize. With so much accomplished at such a young age, there is no telling what Thunberg will achieve in the years to come. 


Lizzo (Music) No one was a bigger deal in music this year than Lizzo. Though she’s been in the music industry for many years, her album Cuz I Love You that came out this year brought her into the spotlight like never before. She was named Time Magazine’s 2019 Entertainer of the Year and has recently earned eight Grammy nominations, including Record and Album of the Year, as well as Best New Artist. In addition to all of her accolades, Lizzo has worked to transform her listener’s perception of body positivity and what it means to love yourself, something she will surely carry over into 2020 and the rest of her career. 


Jessica Meir and Christina Koch (Science)

This October, NASA Astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch became the first team to conduct an all-female spacewalk. Taking place outside of the International Space Station, the walk lasted a little over seven hours, and was considered an overall success. While this was not the first time women have spacewalked, it was the first time such a feat was performed by an all-female team, something that both astronauts have said they hope to see more of in the future. 


Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Television)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge has been a part of some of television’s biggest hits over the last few years, including creating Killing Eve and Fleabag, which she also stars in. This year, Waller-Bridge took home three Emmys for Fleabag, and also found a home at HBO for her upcoming new show Run. Regarding her Emmy domination, Waller-Bridge commented, “It’s just really wonderful to know — and reassuring — that a dirty, pervy, angry, messed up woman can make it to the Emmys.” In 2020, Waller-Bridge will continue to reap many of the rewards of her hard work, including seeing the release of the James Bond film No Time To Die, which she co-wrote. 


Joanna Gaines (Business)

It’s no secret that Chip and Joanna Gaines have transformed the reality TV market, but with the two moving beyond their show Fixer Upper, their businesses are growing to new heights. In addition to their well-established businesses and partnerships, books, and designing, the couple announced this year that they will be launching their own media company that will include a TV network and streaming app, as well as a 10+ million dollar expansion of their Magnolia Market shopping complex in Waco, Texas. 


Brené Brown (Psychology & Mental Health)

As we continue to de-stigmatize mental health, Brené Brown PhD LMSW has been a key voice in the fight. Her TED Talk on vulnerability has over 35 million views, making it one of the most-watched ever, and this year, she became the first person to have a filmed talk put on Netflix. Originally put on the streaming platform this past April, the talk, entitled Brené Brown: The Call to Courage, explores how bravery comes from exploring our fears and vulnerabilities. For anyone looking to see life in a new way as we enter a new decade, Brown’s talks are essential viewing.