DEI—diversity, equity, and inclusion—has come a long way in the workplace and has gone from dream to reality, though many still fight for it. The changes in the labor force didn’t happen overnight. In the 1950s, women were relegated to roles that seemed feminine and focused on nurturing, such as nursing and teaching. High school girls were taught to cook, clean, and sew with the hopes of finding a husband. Minorities, including Blacks, Native Americans, and Hispanics, often saw opportunities for which they were qualified handed to others who were less ethnic, less female, and less diverse. The entrepreneurial spirit did not belong solely to white men though.
The gender wage gap has narrowed, due in large part to gender diversity initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s, and inclusion has come to include people of all ethnicities, cultures, and colors. Companies have made great strides to make sure they include everyone and do not discriminate. The glass ceiling that once seemed an impenetrable barrier has cracked—though there is still far to go. This couldn’t have happened without the help of the trailblazers who found their foothold in industries where they often had to fight to be seen and heard.
Assemble compiled a list of people who, from the early days in the United States to the present, broke the glass ceiling across a variety of industries.
The pioneers on this list include two Black women self-made millionaires. They include a woman who fought for a seat on the biggest financial exchange in the world, and a Cuban man immigrant who brought prosperity to a well-known American corporation. They are leaders, activists, and forward thinkers who would not stop no matter their race, ethnicity, or gender.