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  • Writer's pictureHsin Yu Chen

"On the eve of International Women's Day, "Time" magazine selected 100 "Women of the Year"


1941: Illustration by Mark Summers for TIME; Fawcett Family/Anthony Crowley/Camera Press/Redux, 2014: Painting by Toyin Ojih Odutola for TIME, 1996: Painting by Shana Wilson for TIME, 1993: Portrait by Tim Okamura for TIME; Schiffer-Fuchs — Ullstein Bild/Getty, 1945: Illustration by Jennifer Dionisio for TIME; Bettmann/Getty, 1969: Art by Mickalene Thomas for TIME; Johnson: Arlene Gottfried — Daniel Cooney Fine Art; Sign: Diana Davies © NYPL/Art Resource, NY, 1959: Illustration by Marc Burckhardt for TIME; Alamy, 1962: Painting by Shana Wilson for TIME, 1977: Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME; HolLynn D’Lil/Becoming Real in 24 Days, 1950: Illustration by Alan Dingman for TIME; Bettmann/Getty
1941: Illustration by Mark Summers for TIME; Fawcett Family/Anthony Crowley/Camera Press/Redux, 2014: Painting by Toyin Ojih Odutola for TIME, 1996: Painting by Shana Wilson for TIME, 1993: Portrait by Tim Okamura for TIME; Schiffer-Fuchs — Ullstein Bild/Getty, 1945: Illustration by Jennifer Dionisio for TIME; Bettmann/Getty, 1969: Art by Mickalene Thomas for TIME; Johnson: Arlene Gottfried — Daniel Cooney Fine Art; Sign: Diana Davies © NYPL/Art Resource, NY, 1959: Illustration by Marc Burckhardt for TIME; Alamy, 1962: Painting by Shana Wilson for TIME, 1977: Illustration by Jason Seiler for TIME; HolLynn D’Lil/Becoming Real in 24 Days, 1950: Illustration by Alan Dingman for TIME; Bettmann/Getty

We not only need to ask why we have long overlooked the contributions of those women who have not graced the cover of Time magazine as Women of the Year?


Illustration by Amaya Gurpide for TIME; Getty (4), Granger
Illustration by Amaya Gurpide for TIME; Getty (4), Granger

A few days ago, TIME magazine released a special edition featuring 100 "Women of the Year" and invited artists to design 89 new covers following the style and layout of each respective year.


On the eve of International Women's Day, this project commemorates the influential women from 1920 to the present, honoring the 100th anniversary of the women's suffrage movement in the United States and celebrating a century of women's political participation in the country.


"The Silence Breakers," six individuals chosen as the 2017 Person of the Year.
"The Silence Breakers," six individuals chosen as the 2017 Person of the Year.

In fact, over the 72 years since its inception, TIME magazine has nominated only 11 women as "Person of the Year." Prior to 1999, the title was "Man of the Year," and the recipients were predominantly male. Even after the title was changed to "Person of the Year," the majority of recipients have continued to be male. Before 1975, the "Person of the Year" cover featured a collective group once, comprising 12 individuals, and only three women were featured separately: Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, Wallis Simpson, and Soong Mei-ling, all of whom were known mainly as someone's wife.


1975: American Women. Designed by Norman Gorbary; Photographs by Dirck Halstead, Neil Leifer, Dennis Brack — Black Star, David Burnett — Pledge, David Hume Kennerly — The White House, Steve Northup, Halstead, Burnett, Art Shay, Bill Pierce, Julian Wasser, John Zimmerman
1975: American Women. Designed by Norman Gorbary; Photographs by Dirck Halstead, Neil Leifer, Dennis Brack — Black Star, David Burnett — Pledge, David Hume Kennerly — The White House, Steve Northup, Halstead, Burnett, Art Shay, Bill Pierce, Julian Wasser, John Zimmerman

Left: Queen Elizabeth II in 1952; Middle: Wallis Simpson in 1936; Right: 宋美齡
Left: Queen Elizabeth II in 1952; Middle: Wallis Simpson in 1936; Right: 宋美齡

That's why in TIME magazine's "100 Women of the Year" feature, besides the 11 women who have actually been named "Person of the Year" in history, the other 89 women are representatives of various fields and experts, carefully selected by TIME's editorial team and numerous women from diverse backgrounds from over 600 nominations over the course of more than a month.


Through this project, they aim to explore some serious issues:


What does it mean to be a woman?
How has society failed to acknowledge the contributions of women?

Here's a brief introduction to some selected individuals:


1921: Emmy Noether

Illustration by Oliver Sin for TIME; Alamy, Lower Saxony State and University Library Göttingen, Cod. Ms. Hilbert 754, Nr. 73
Illustration by Oliver Sin for TIME; Alamy, Lower Saxony State and University Library Göttingen, Cod. Ms. Hilbert 754, Nr. 73

Emmy Noether was a remarkably talented German mathematician in the early 20th century, specializing in abstract algebra and theoretical physics. She had a unique ability to establish elegant abstract concepts through profound insights and then beautifully formalize them. Described by Pavel Alexandrov, Albert Einstein, Jean Dieudonné, Hermann Weyl, and Norbert Wiener as the most important woman in the history of mathematics, she revolutionized the theories of rings, fields, and algebra. In the realm of physics, Noether's theorem provided a fundamental link between symmetries and conservation laws.


1932: Babe Didrikson

Illustration by Patrick Faricy for TIME; AP, Getty
Illustration by Patrick Faricy for TIME; AP, Getty

Babe Didrikson was named the greatest female athlete of the 20th century by the Associated Press. She achieved remarkable success in golf, basketball, and track and field. Babe Didrikson first won two track and field gold medals at the 1932 Summer Olympics and later transitioned to become a professional golfer, winning 10 United States Women's Open championships. She is regarded as possibly the most versatile female athlete in history.


1943: Virginia Hall

Lorna Catling Collection
Lorna Catling Collection

Virginia Hall was an active Allied spy during World War II, operating in France and striking fear into the hearts of the Nazis. She was a heroic figure on the side of the Allies. Using her exceptional makeup skills and cunning tactics, she managed to evade capture as a fugitive. As an innovator in the field of intelligence, Virginia Hall trained and led resistance forces in conducting guerrilla sabotage operations, laying the groundwork for the Normandy landings. The Nazis dubbed her "the most dangerous spy."


Furthermore, she made significant contributions to persuading the military departments of both Britain and the United States to expand the training of women for military service. In 1942, she played a crucial role in the United States officially allowing women to enlist. Her series of espionage strategies developed during that time are still employed by the CIA today.


1958: China Machado

China Machado, New York, November 6, 1958; Photograph by Richard Avedon, © The Richard Avedon Foundation
China Machado, New York, November 6, 1958; Photograph by Richard Avedon, © The Richard Avedon Foundation

As a woman of mixed heritage from Portugal, India, and China, "China" Machado never felt beautiful before entering the modeling industry. However, in 1958, she made history when Richard Avedon photographed her, making her the first woman of color to appear on the cover of the American Harper's Bazaar magazine. Machado continued to be a trailblazer; in 1962, she became an editor at Harper's, and even at the age of 81, she signed with IMG agency to continue her modeling career. Her pioneering spirit has inspired countless women of color to venture into the fashion industry.


1967年:Zenzile Miriam Makeba

Ed Thrasher — MPTV/Reuters
Ed Thrasher — MPTV/Reuters

Miriam Makeba, nicknamed "Mama Africa," was a South African singer who received a Grammy Award and dedicated her life to the fight for human rights as a female activist in South Africa. Growing up under the minority rule of whites, she faced condemnation from the government wherever she traveled. Despite facing numerous challenges, she exuded passion for life through her enchanting voice. She once told an interviewer, "People think I consciously decided to introduce this kind of music to the world. No! I was singing about my life, and in South Africa, we always sang about what was happening to us, especially those things that hurt us."


1979: Tu Youyou

Illustration by Bijou Karman for TIME; Paul U. Unschuld
Illustration by Bijou Karman for TIME; Paul U. Unschuld

Tu Youyou, born in Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, is a lifelong researcher and chief scientist at the China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She is the director of the Artemisinin Research and Development Center and the discoverer of the antimalarial drugs artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin. These drugs have saved millions of lives and significantly improved the health conditions of people in tropical developing countries in South Asia, Africa, and South America. Tu Youyou's contributions are considered a remarkable breakthrough in tropical medicine in the 20th century.


1983: Françoise Barré-Sinoussi

Illustration by Nigel Buchanan for TIME; Michel Philippot — Sygma via Getty
Illustration by Nigel Buchanan for TIME; Michel Philippot — Sygma via Getty

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, along with her colleagues in 1983, extracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) responsible for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) from a patient suffering from what was then known as a mysterious disease. Her outstanding work transformed people's understanding of the virus and subsequently led to her participation in projects aimed at developing an HIV vaccine over the next decade. Barré-Sinoussi has independently or collaboratively published over 120 scientific papers and more than 200 other publications, participated in more than 250 international academic conferences, and trained numerous young researchers. She has made significant contributions to academic institutions in France and serves as a consultant for the World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS-HIV).


1988: Florence Griffith Joyner

Tony Duffy — Allsport/Getty
Tony Duffy — Allsport/Getty

Florence Griffith Joyner, an American track and field athlete, was nicknamed "Flo-Jo" and "The Butterfly." In 1988, during the training of the U.S. Olympic team, Flo-Jo ran the 100 meters in 10.49 seconds, a record that remains unbroken to this day.


Many people believed it was impossible for a woman to run under 10.5 seconds. At the subsequent Seoul Olympics in 1988, Flo-Jo won three gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters, and 4x100 meters relay, as well as a silver medal in the 4x400 meters relay. She set a world record in the 200 meters with a time of 21.34 seconds, which still stands to this day.


1993: Toni Morrison

Portrait by Tim Okamura for TIME; Schiffer-Fuchs — Ullstein Bild/Getty
Portrait by Tim Okamura for TIME; Schiffer-Fuchs — Ullstein Bild/Getty

"We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives."


Toni Morrison was an American African-American writer, one of the most significant authors in world literature. Growing up in a family immersed in Southern myths, stories, and songs, her upbringing laid the foundation for her later prose. Despite the prevalent racial discrimination of the time, her happy family life contributed to her exceptional academic performance in school. In 1993, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for her selected works. She is an important figure in American African literature, and some of her works are classified as American literature, including "The Bluest Eye." Morrison received numerous literary awards, including the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pulitzer Prize, and the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.


2002: The Whistleblowers

Gregory Heisler for TIME
Gregory Heisler for TIME

The three women featured on the cover were not so-called prominent figures. They all emphasized that anyone committed to doing the right thing can make a difference.


Cynthia Cooper discovered one of the largest accounting frauds in history at the telecommunications giant WorldCom while being just an employee of the company, which eventually led to $9 billion in fines and five top executives, including the CEO, going to jail.


Sherron Watkins blew the whistle on the accounting fraud that then-CEO Kenneth Lay was concealing hundreds of millions of dollars in debt at Enron, even though she was one of the company's vice presidents.


Coleen Rowley, an FBI agent, reported numerous problems within the FBI headquarters to then-FBI Director Robert Mueller after the 9/11 attacks, leading to mishandling of intelligence on terrorists, contributing to the catastrophic consequences of 9/11.


As a result of their actions, the three whistleblowers were named the 2002 TIME Person of the Year. Cynthia Cooper did not consider herself a hero, but merely someone doing her job, yet their actions resonated significantly. The U.S. Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act in 2002, aimed at establishing more robust financial regulations for publicly traded companies and further regulating their financial systems. The FBI underwent a large-scale restructuring lasting for a year after the 9/11 attacks.


2013: Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi

Illustration by Molly Crabapple for TIME
Illustration by Molly Crabapple for TIME

In March 2013, after a white man was acquitted of killing an unarmed black teenager, Alicia Garza posted on social media, concluding with "Black people, I love you. I love us. Our lives matter." Her friend Patrisse Cullors added the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter to the post.


Today, Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry against violence and systemic racism targeting black individuals, and the movement's founders, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, have driven it to become one of the most influential social justice organizations worldwide.


- - -


The above brief introductions are just a few representatives of the many outstanding women over the past century. Some are in the arts, sports, research, advocating for minority groups, or simply ordinary individuals working silently from 9 to 5. Despite facing immense temptations and pressures, they steadfastly chose to do what is right.


We pay tribute to every woman.



The following are the 100 annual covers:






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