* Originally published on June 14 2016.
Irish women have had an immeasurable impact on American history and society, and in a very necessary act of recognition, IrishCentral’s sister publication Irish America magazine has launched their first-ever Women’s Issue, celebrating the Top 50 Power Women in Irish America.
In the mid-1800s, the Irish were the largest immigrant group entering the US. But here’s a little known fact about the millions of Irish who made that journey: by the 1870s, the female immigrants outnumbered the males.
As Irish America’s Co-Founder and Editor, Patricia Harty, writes, “Unlike other countries, Irish women immigrated in numbers equal to men. Between 1846 and 1875, half of the 2,700,000 Irish entering the United States were female. By the 1870s, female immigrants outnumbered the males. As single women, they found jobs as live-in maids and cooks and housekeepers in New York, Boston, and other cities. The work was hard, the hours long, and the pay not great, but they had a roof over their heads, and they sent money back home to keep the roof over their parents’ heads, and pay for passage over for younger brothers and sisters.”
The Power 50 list recognizes the achievements of the most influential and innovative Irish and Irish American women across all fields. From finance and business professionals to media personalities, political figures, and healthcare workers, the women featured in the list have become leading voices in the corporate and cultural American landscape.
Who are they? There’s Anne Anderson, the first woman to hold the position of Irish Ambassador to the US; Gillian Murphy, principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater; Denise Morrison, CEO of the Campbell Soup Company; Dr. Barbara Murphy, chair of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at the Mount Sinai Health System – one of only three women to be appointed chair of medicine at a top medical school; Kathleen Kennedy of Lucafilm; fashion designer Orla Kiley; Mary Kay Henry, chair of the Service Employees International Union; Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine; Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jennifer Egan; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Maureen Dowd; Maureen Mitchell, president of Global Sales and Marketing for GE Asset Management; and Samantha Barry head of Social Media and senior director of Social News for CNN.
The Irish America Top 50 Power Women will be celebrated with a luncheon in New York City on June 30 – click here for details or to reserve tickets.
IrishCentral is pleased to share with you a selection of inspiring quotes from a few of the honorees on what it means to be Irish as well as the triumphs and remaining obstacles women face today. To read the full list and more articles from the June/July issue, visit IrishAmerica.com.
“I think that [having a strong sense of myself] has been very important because it’s kept me grounded – that I am always grateful for talent, for the potential that I started out with but I don’t just take it for granted and I don’t take the opportunities I’ve been given for granted. I really just want to make the most out of this profession and art that I love so much.” – Gillian Murphy, Principal Dancer, American Ballet Theater
"Like so many American immigrants, my parents had an unyielding focus on finding success through hard work. I’ve carried that with me every day. In fact, as I progressed in my career, I developed a mindset that my success would be predicated on my ability to outwork anyone else. And they led by example. When I think about someone emigrating from their homeland, it reinforces that fearlessness is the only path to achieving great things. I brought that attitude to being a woman on Wall Street, where I was definitely in the minority." – Maureen Mitchell, president of Global Sales and Marketing for GE Asset Management
“I have always been proud of where I came from. My color sense comes from the rich colors of the Irish landscape. My family are in Ireland and I visit them regularly,” – Fashion designer Orla Kiley on her Tipperary roots.
“I am extremely proud of coming from a long line of Irish people who leave, seek opportunities abroad, and are fearless travelers.” – Samantha Barry, CNN’s head of Social Media and senior director of Social News
“I am fortunate to have grown up amid the hard work, determination, innovation, and common sense that define this great industry. To me, nothing says ‘home’ like the sight of potato blossoms stretching as far as the eye can see and the heritage they demonstrate,” – Senator Susan M. Collins (R), Maine
“There are more young women than young men in third level education. One would hope that means that as those cohorts of highly qualified young women work their way through the system, we will see structures become far less pyramidal and more equal. . . We have to work very actively to make sure that what we see happening now for young women will actually be reflected in their rise through all the ranks so they get into the top positions.” – Anne Anderson, Ireland’s Ambassador to the US
“New Yorkers will easily talk about their rent, but never what they earn, leaving too many of us flying blind.” – Maureen Callahan, Editor at the New York Post, on how transparency can help narrow the gender wage gap
"I sometimes feel that the longer I live, the more my Irish heritage percolates up through my DNA,” she says. “I recognize it in the stories I tell, the words I choose – in what moves me, what haunts me, what makes me laugh." – Novelist Alice McDermott
“Despite being one of the smallest nations on earth, [the Irish] have left an indelible mark,” as many aspects of Irish culture “have propagated to the four corners of the world.” – Cora Creed, vice president of Digital Supply Chain Management at Universal Music Group