Pioneer Women Who Received ‘Presidential Medal Of Freedom’

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy and is the highest civilian honor one can receive in the United States.

They are given out each year and amongst the mostly male recipients were a handful of powerful women in their industry who we are glad have been recognized by POTUS!

There were only 5 women out of a total 16 recipients, one of which was awarded posthumously.

Dr. Sally Ride was the first American female astronaut to travel to space.  As a role model to generations of young women, she advocated passionately for science education, stood up for racial and gender equality in the classroom, and taught students from every background that there are no limits to what they can accomplish. She passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer.


The other three women were feminist author Gloria Steinem, judge Patricia Wald, singer Loretta Lynn and of course, media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

Patricia Wald is one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation.  After graduating as 1 of only 11 women in her Yale University Law School class, she became the first woman appointed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and served as Chief Judge from 1986-1991. Ms. Wald currently serves on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

Country singer Loretta Lynn told Rollingstone Magazine she thinks it’s “fantastic” that she got the award this year. Raised in rural Kentucky, she emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, courageously breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.  Ms. Lynn’s numerous accolades include the Kennedy Center Honors in 2003 and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010.

Loretta Lynn

Gloria Steinem is a renowned writer and activist for women’s equality.  She was a leader in the women’s liberation movement, co-founded Ms. magazine, and helped launch a wide variety of groups and publications dedicated to advancing civil rights.  Ms. Steinem has received dozens of awards over the course of her career, and remains an active voice for women’s rights.


Of course we all probably know the reasons Ms. Winfrey received the medal, but we are glad that her efforts as a pioneer in the media are recognized in the highest civilian manner possible.

Oprah Winfrey is one of the world’s most successful broadcast journalists.  She is best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years. Ms. Winfrey has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women.  She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

She launched her very own television network in 2010 called OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network which houses programming such as Oprah’s next Chapter. She is a favorite amongst women of all ages and continues to be the number one inspiration for women wanting a career in TV and broadcasting.

We can say without a doubt Oprah Winfrey is a huge reason why we are able to create something like this website and be fearless and passionate about being women in Media.

Thank you Mr. President for recognizing this group of hardworking pioneer women, we hope the list will continue to reflect more and more females in the future.


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