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Women Make History, At Every Age

Women Make History, At Every Age

Isn’t it short-sighted, how our society still equates youth with success? March marks Women’s History Month each year to celebrate and remember all of the contributions women have made to society and help work toward a more equal future, but even the recognition of women’s achievements is often focused on younger women. This year, we’re on a mission to balance the scales with this list of women who have made history well into their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s and inspired us with their tenacity.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses became lovingly known as Grandma Moses when she began painting at 78. When she was raising a family, taking care of a farm, and working as a live-in housekeeper, she didn’t exactly have time to build an art career. She began painting scenes of her rural life in her 70s and painted over 1,500 canvases before she passed away in 1961 at age 101. At first, she only charged a few dollars for her art but after it was featured in a Museum of Modern Art exhibition in New York, her fame grew and she eventually charged thousands of dollars for her works. Grandma Moses proved that it is never too late to follow your dreams. 

Winning an Oscar is the dream of anyone in the film industry and one star made history when she became the oldest-ever woman to win the highly-coveted award. Ann Roth was pushed back to the forefront of pop culture last summer when she appeared in Barbie. Back in 2021, Roth was 89 years old when she won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for the film Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, making her the oldest woman to win.

For those who think Formula 1 racing is just for men or young people, Rosemary Smith has news for you. Smith, who hailed from Ireland, took the wheel of a Formula 1 car at age 79, making her the oldest person to have driven an 800bhp racing car. This was following a long career as a driver; after winning many competitions and breaking land speed records, she founded a driving school and became a successful business owner in her 60s. She passed away in 2023. 

Carolyn Doelling is now a supermodel but she didn’t even think about modeling until after she retired from her careers (plural!) in banking, telecommunications, and nonprofit sectors. She noticed that the world started looking at her differently and she wanted to break that barrier. Doelling had the opportunity to model after being approached in a store at age 74 and she discovered a new dream. She hopes to inspire others as they watch her launch a new career in her 70s, especially one that is mainly reserved for young women. 

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made history in so many ways. Nominated at the age of 60, she was the second female Supreme Court Justice in United States history. Over her decades of civil service, Ginsburg is celebrated for her profound influence in advancing the rights of women in the United States. Justice Ginsburg died in 2020.

Dr. Ruth Westheimer, affectionately known as Dr. Ruth, is a sex therapist beloved for her frank advice on safe sex who has educated the public about all things sex and sexual wellness for decades. Dr. Ruth wasn’t well known until she was in her 50s when she started her radio show Sexually Speaking, which debuted on WYNY-FM in New York City. But in the decades to follow she became a household name. She has now won many awards, including being named the Honorary President of the Council on Sexuality and Aging.

The women on this list serve as incredible reminders that we can make profound marks on the world well into our 60s and beyond – including Elaine, Co-Founder Mia’s Mom who was the original inspiration for Attn: Grace. So, this Women’s History Month, let’s channel our inner Deborah Lawrie, a pioneer in women’s aviation who at 70 is the world's oldest female commercial pilot. Let’s keep taking flight and enjoying this journey. And if you ever need a little help staying comfortable along the way, you know where to find us.