Illustrating the accomplishments of media trailblazers for Women’s History Month

Kathryn Vlaanderen, News Editor

Women’s History Month is considered to be a celebration in March that is dedicated to celebrating women’s history.  

According to, in an article titled, “Women’s History Month 2023,” the National Women’s History Alliance recently assigned the March 2023 theme “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories,” recognizing the women who have made leaps in the media and the entertainment industry. While keeping the 2023 theme of Women’s History Month in your back pocket; take a look into the extraordinary lives of these four trailblazing women in media.  

Barbara Walters (1929-2022) was a trailblazing woman in what used to be a male-dominated profession: Broadcast Journalism. Walters began her career in broadcast journalism as the “Today Girl,” a pretty face that made small talk with the male cohost. She also covered a variety of feminine segments in media such as fashion shows, feminine hygiene and products. Her big break in her career came after the assassination of John F. Kennedy when she was given more time on the air than she had before in her career. 

After her big moment, Walters became the first female co-host to three of NBC’s male hosts: Hugh Downs, Frank McGee and Jim Hartz. One of the most challenging moments in Walters’ career was during her time as cohost with Frank McGee who felt that working with Walters was a demotion at the time. He made a new policy proposal to the president of NBC that said that if the two cohosts had to give an interview in the NBC studio, then Walters couldn’t ask a question before McGee asked three; He also proposed that any studio interviews were to go to him and anything outside of the studio would go to Walters. 

Despite her challenges as a female cohost and journalist, her specialty came in the form of interviews. Throughout her career, Walters interviewed a lot of profound figures such as world leaders, drug lords, celebrities, and every U.S President from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.   

According to an ABC special called “Our Barbara: A Special Edition of 20/20,” Walters was the first reporter to bring to light many subjects that are still relevant today in 2023 such as a look into what it’s like as a transgender child, a segment where she held an AIDS child to destigmatize AIDS during the 1980s AIDS Epidemic.  She also humanized mental impairments such as Parkinson’s Disease when she interviewed Michael J. Fox in 1998.  

Ida B. Wells (1862-1931) was one the earliest African American investigative journalists who brought to light the horrific treatment given to African Americans during her time. She was at first a teacher and the head of her family after her parents had passed at the age of 16. According to a biography published on, Wells’s writing passion became her career after criticizing the education provided to African American children with the pen name “Iola” in a local Memphis newspaper.  

After the abrupt death of three of her friends by mob violence; Ida B. Wells started to write her well-known editorials detailing the harsh realities of lynching of her African American neighbors. As a freed women during the 1800s, Wells had to face more challenges than anyone could ever face in the modern world such as racism, lynching and prejudices against not only her race but also her gender.   

Wells was an outspoken women’s suffragist who used her platform to fight for African American women’s right to vote at the same time white women were trying to gain their right to vote at the time. She founded the Alpha Suffrage Club, one of the largest suffrage groups that taught women about the political environment.  

For example, she marched in a suffrage parade in 1913 despite the parade organizers’ resistance to African American participation in the parade. Wells dedicated her life to fighting against lynching until her death in 1931. Thirty-nine years after her death, Wells’s autobiography, “Crusade for Justice: Autobiography of Ida B. Wells” was published in 1970.  

Selena Quintanilla Pérez (1971-1995) is known as the “Queen of Tejano” for her love for life and her energetic personality. Selena’s music career began with a family-style band consisting of her sister, Suzette, her brother A.B. and later her husband, Chris Perez, called “Selena y Los Dinos.” The band started to perform at the family-owned Tex-Mex restaurant as well as at local weddings in Lake Jackson, Texas. However, the band became a way to escape poverty after the restaurant had to shut down.  

Selena’s music style, Tejano is a combination style of Mexican and American styles of music which has styles of Czech and German vocal and dance rhythms. In the 1990s, the Tejano genre was dominated primarily by male singers. She was the first Tejano artist to receive a Grammy, for her “Live!” album in 1994 and was the first female Tejano artist to receive a gold record.  

From her Madonna-style outfits to her passionate voice; Selena had become one of the most famous Tejano singers in a male-dominated genre of music.  According to the biography of Selena on a website called, Texas State Historical Association, “Despite her success in the Spanish language market, mainstream society largely ignored Selena until around 1993.” Before her tragic death in 1995, the band sold 1.5 million records and had contracts with mainstream brands like Coca-Cola and AT&T for tours.  

According to the same website, “Selena considered herself to be a public servant.” She participated in numerous programs including the D.A.R.E Program and was a part of numerous pro-education programs in her home in Texas.  

Carrie Fisher (1958-2016) not only played one of the most iconic roles in American cinema history, Princess Leia, but also used her powers to advocate for women’s rights and mental health through the characters that she portrayed in film as well as the words she wrote in many of her critically acclaimed books.   

According to People magazine in an article by Jess Cagle and Lindsay Kimble titled, “Iconic ‘Star Wars’ Actress Carrie Fisher Dies at 60: ‘She Was Loved by the World, and She Will Be Missed Profoundly,” Her actions were so profound that, in 2005 she was recognized with the Women’s Vision Award in Film and Video. Fisher’s life, in the spotlight, was by far not at all as glamorous, as the movies portray. She provided the reality of show business and mental health through her numerous critically acclaimed books and role in “Star Wars.”  

According to an article titled, “Carrie Fisher was a hero to all women, an example of how to be fearless to the end,” written by Clarrise Lounghrey for the Independent, her bravery came when she returned to “Star Wars” as a soldier and general instead of a princess like her previous portrayal of Leia was. According to the same article, like her character in the “Star Wars” She was an absolute rebel till the end of her life and used her platform to speak for those who have mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and taught women to not go through life silently.  

These four women are just some of the trailblazers that have broken barriers to make the media what it is today. While reflecting on the theme for 2023’s theme for Women’s History Month, it is hard not to ignore the fact that the lives and contributions of these women and any women, for that matter has provided stories of resilience, hard work and dedication to pursue the careers they loved. It shows future generations of young leaders no matter their gender, race or sexual orientation that the smallest actions such as acting, picking up a pen or singing a tune can have the biggest impact.