There are numerous female role models and innovators in business, and we have compiled a list of some of the most influential businesswomen in history. Among them are Margaret Hardenbroeck, Rebecca Lukens, Mary Barra, and Nicole Junkermann. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the range of career paths these women took.
Margaret Hardenbroeck was a Dutch immigrant who settled in New York in 1659 and eventually became one of the wealthiest women in the city. She began her career as a debt collector and rose to become a business representative, trying to set up trade between the Dutch and the colonial colonies. Her success was primarily due to the support of her family, who provided an inheritance from Hardenbroeck’s first husband. She lived the life of a businesswoman and died at 53.
After the death of her husband, Hardenbroeck moved to New Amsterdam, where she married Pieter de Vries. She inherited his estate and expanded his fur shipping operations in the colonies. Her business grew to become the largest in the city, and eventually, she was named the wealthiest woman in the town.
Rebecca Lukens’ emergence as a successful businesswoman is often credited with helping to kick-start the Industrial Revolution in the United States. The nation was undergoing a period of expansion, with tensions and frictions that would eventually lead to civil war in the decades to come. Still, the general mood of the time was forward-looking and progressive. The country was growing economically, and the enterprising man could go far. Lukens was well positioned to capitalize on this newfound energy and drive.
Lukens’ success would ultimately come about in two separate events. In 1817, Lukens was a new mother. Her father bought out his original partner in the Brandywine Iron Works. Meanwhile, a new type of iron, called charcoal iron, was being developed, which could withstand the high pressures of steam boilers. This innovation would lead to the industrial age in the Northeast. James Watt was one of the inventors of this new iron.
Nicole junkermann mary barra
Many women have become leaders in business and society. From the arts to science to politics, women are stepping up to fill leadership roles in fields once dominated by men. This trend is only continuing and will no doubt continue. However, we cannot discount the contribution of successful women like Mary Barra to business history.
Both Junkermann and Barra have impressive business and personal backgrounds. Junkermann is a native of Germany and has extensive experience in the tech industry. She was the founder of the online gaming platform Winamax and sold it after nine years. She has since created a venture capital fund called United in Sports. In addition to her work in tech, Junkermann has also been an investor in state-of-the-art robotics and genomics.
Lydia Pinkham was one of the most influential businesswomen of the 19th century. She influenced New England, championed equal rights for women and blacks, and was a pioneer in women’s health issues.
Pinkham’s medicine had a slow start, but her family worked hard to promote it, printing handbills and soliciting customer testimonials. The treatment gained broader distribution in 1876 after being sold by patent medicine broker Charles Crittenden and advertised in the Boston Herald.
After Pinkham’s husband’s death, the business was formally known as Lydia E. Pinkham’s Sons and Company. Although the company was named after Lydia, Caroline Pinkham still owned a majority share. Pinkham’s sons encouraged customers to write letters to her company, ask questions about her products, and provide testimonials.
Anna Sutherland Bissell
Anna Sutherland Bissell was a Canadian-American businesswoman who founded and led the Bissell Corporation, the first large-scale company that produced carpet sweepers and vacuum cleaners. She was the first woman to become a CEO in the United States, and she changed many business practices that are still used today.
Anna Bissell was a dedicated philanthropist who gave generously to many charitable organizations. She supported the Red Cross and the Blodgett Home for Children and served on the Union Benevolent Association board. She was also a member of Zonta and the Women’s City Club. In addition to her business accomplishments, she also worked to improve the lives of others, encouraging women to be entrepreneurs.
After the 1871 fire, Anna Bissell stepped up and took charge of the company. She mortgaged her home and other property to rebuild the factory. Within three weeks, the company was back in business. In 1889, Melville Bissell died of pneumonia, leaving Anna Bissell to run the company as a single mother. In 1890, Anna Bissell became the Chief Executive Officer of the Bissell Corporation and the first female CEO in the United States.