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Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

15 Women Who Could Replace Andrew Jackson on the $20

Chloe Effron
Chloe Effron

Andrew Jackson isn’t short on accomplishments. In addition to being the seventh President of the United States, he was a military hero, the godfather of the modern Democratic Party, and, since 1928, the literal face of our $20 bill. But a new campaign by Women on 20s, an online group intent on seeing a female face grace a piece of paper currency, is hoping to make that last of Old Hickory’s achievements a thing of the past.

“Barbara [Ortiz Howard] came up with this idea a few years ago,” Susan Ades Stone, an award-winning journalist and Women on 20s’ executive director and campaign strategist, told The Billfold of the campaign’s origins. “Originally, she was thinking of the ten-dollar bill. But then she realized that the centennial [of women’s suffrage] was coming up in 2020. She said, ‘Hmmm, who’s on the 20?’ When she started looking into Andrew Jackson, he seemed like a better person to replace. She e-mailed friends of hers—I was one of them—asking what we thought of the idea and who they might like to see on the $20.”

The result is a list of 15 stellar female candidates, from activists to ecologists to nurses to politicians, each of whom is well deserving of a currency commemoration.

“We stuck very closely to this rubric of evaluating every candidate by the breadth of their impact: how transformational was their contribution?” Ades Stone told Time. “And the other factor we asked people to consider were ‘What were the challenges these people faced?’”

Starting with approximately 100 names, the candidate list was slowly whittled down to a mere 15; Amelia Earhart, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Helen Keller, Jane Addams, Lucretia Mott, Mother Jones, Maya Angelou, Nellie Bly, and Sally Ride were among the women who didn’t make it to the primary round of voting, a distinguished group that includes:

1. Alice Paul

Leader of the National Women’s Party for half a century, it’s largely because of Alice Paul that women have the right to vote today.

2. Betty Friedan

The publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique in 1963 is often credited as the single moment that kickstarted the second wave of American feminism.

3. Shirley Chisholm

After becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress in 1968, Shirley Chisholm strove to make history a second time just a few years later when she entered the 1972 Democratic presidential race—a first for both women and African-Americans.

4. Sojourner Truth

Born into slavery, Sojourner Truth escaped to freedom with her infant daughter in 1826, then sued the white man who illegally sold her son—and won.   

5. Rachel Carson

The godmother of eco-consciousness, there would be no EPA (or Earth Day) without biologist/zoologist Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking 1962 book Silent Spring, which detailed the dangers of synthetic pesticides.

6. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama in 1955 became an iconic symbol in the fight for civil rights, and led to her being deemed “the mother of the freedom movement.” 

7. Barbara Jordan

In 1976, Barbara Jordan—the first African-American woman elected to the Texas Senate—added to her list of “firsts” when she became the first black woman to deliver the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. She paid tribute to the importance of the moment by noting that, “My presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American dream need not forever be deferred.” 

8. Margaret Sanger

Despite being taught that contraceptives should be criminalized, Margaret Sanger knew better, and fought loudly and proudly for a woman’s right to “own and control her body.” She introduced the idea of “birth control” (and the term itself), helped to found Planned Parenthood, and played a key role in the development of the birth control pill.

9. Patsy Mink

As the first woman of color elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and the first Asian-American woman in Congress, Patsy Mink co-wrote, sponsored, and spearheaded the passage of Title IX, which prohibited gender discrimination in federally funded institutions. After her passing in 2002, it was renamed the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act.

10. Clara Barton

Better known as “The Angel of the Battlefield,” Clara Barton wasn’t afraid to bring food and medical supplies to the front lines during the Civil War, then channeled that charitable spirit into the creation of the American Red Cross.

11. Harriet Tubman

Whereas other escaped slaves would never dare to look back, Harriet Tubman returned to her enslaved past an estimated 19 times in order to help others follow her path to freedom, making her one of the most famous conductors of the Underground Railroad. 

12. Frances Perkins

FDR may have gotten most of the headlines for the New Deal, but it was Frances Perkins (the first female U.S. Cabinet member and longest-serving labor secretary in the history of the job) who championed its major innovations, including unemployment benefits, welfare, minimum wages, and overtime pay.

13. Eleanor Roosevelt

As First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt did more than just smile at the cameras and wave to the crowds; she pioneered the position as one with the power to make real changes, paving the way for all of the women who called The White House home after her.

14. Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s declaration that “The best protection any woman can have … is courage” helped secure her place at the forefront of the women’s equality movement, most famously when she presented her Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848.

15. Susan B. Anthony

Sure, Susan B. Anthony had her face minted on a dollar coin. But that doesn’t mean that paper money should elude her. Working alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton for 50 years, Anthony was a tireless (and successful) abolitionist and suffragist. 

According to Time, more than 72,000 people have already cast their votes for the most deserving candidates. Once that number reaches 100,000, “we can get the President’s ear,” indicates the Women on 20s Website. They also note that, “Fortunately, it doesn’t take a messy act of Congress to change a portrait on paper money. It requires an order from the Secretary of the Treasury. With the stroke of a pen, the President can direct the Treasury Secretary to make the change.”

For his part, President Obama has already publicly stated his support for the idea of putting a lady on some loot. Last July, while giving a speech at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri, Obama shared that, “a young girl wrote to ask me why aren’t there any women on our currency, and then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff—which I thought was a pretty good idea.”

The argument for “tender equality” is hardly a new concept, particularly when one considers the fact that Martha Washington is the only woman to have ever appeared on a piece of paper currency in the U.S.—and that was more than 125 years ago. Females have fared better in the coin department, with the United States Mint citing six occasions of female portrayals, though only half of those were circulating coins (the most recent being Helen Keller on the back of the 2003 Alabama quarter).

“There is a disconnect possibly between women and money, Barbara Ortiz Howard tells Fast Company. “Having a woman on money helps connect the dots a little bit more in our everyday lives.”

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9 Scandals that Rocked the Figure Skating World
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the ornate costumes and beautiful choreography fool you, figure skaters are no strangers to scandal. Here are nine notable ones.

1. TONYA AND NANCY.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
Pascal Rondeau, ALLSPORT/Getty Images

In 1994, a little club-and-run thrust the sport of figure skating into the spotlight. The assault on reigning national champion Nancy Kerrigan (and her subsequent anguished cries) at the 1994 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit was heard round the world, as were the allegations that her main rival, Tonya Harding, may have been behind it all.

The story goes a little something like this: As America's sweetheart (Kerrigan) is preparing to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Lillehammer, Norway, she gets clubbed in the knee outside the locker room after practice. Kerrigan is forced to withdraw from competition and Harding gets the gold. Details soon emerge that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was behind the attack (he hired a hitman). Harding denies any knowledge or involvement, but tanks at the Olympics the following month. She then pleads guilty to hindering prosecution of Gillooly and his co-conspirators, bodyguard Shawn Eckhart and hitman Shane Stant. And then she's banned from figure skating for life.

Questions about Harding's guilt remain two decades later, and the event is still a topic of conversation today. Recently, both an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya revisited the saga, proving we can't get enough of a little figure skating scandal.

2. HAND-PICKED FOR GOLD.

Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner at the podium
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Usually it's the top three medalists at the U.S. Nationals that compete for America at the Winter Olympics every four years. But in 2014, gold medalist Gracie Gold (no pun intended), silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and ... "pewter" medalist Ashley Wagner were destined for Sochi.

What about the bronze medalist, you ask? Mirai Nagasu, despite out-skating Wagner by a landslide in Boston and despite being the only skater with prior Olympic experience (she placed fourth at Vancouver in 2010) had to watch it all on television. The decision by the country's governing body of figure skating (United States Figure Skating Association, or USFS) deeply divided the skating community as to whether it was the right choice to pass over Nagasu in favor of Wagner, who hadn't skated so great, and it put a global spotlight on the selection process.

In reality, the athletes that we send to the Olympics are not chosen solely on their performance at Nationals—it's one of many criteria taken into consideration, including performance in international competition over the previous year, difficulty of each skater's technical elements, and, to some degree, their marketability to a world audience. This has happened before to other skaters—most notably Michelle Kwan was relegated to being an alternate in 1994 after Nancy Kerrigan was granted a medical bye after the leg-clubbing heard round the world. Nagasu had the right to appeal the decision, and was encouraged to do so by mobs of angry skating fans, but she elected not to.

3. SALT LAKE CITY, 2002.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia perform in the figure skating exhibition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Objectively, this scandal rocked the skating world the hardest, because the end result was a shattering of the competitive sport's very structure. When Canadian pairs team Jamie Sale and David Pelletier found themselves in second place after a flawless freeskate at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, something wasn't right. The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze placed first, despite a technically flawed performance.

An investigation into the result revealed that judges had conspired to fix the results of the pairs and dance events—a French judge admitted to being pressured to vote for the Russian pair in exchange for a boost for the French dance team (who won that event). In the end, both pairs teams were awarded a gold medal, and the entire system of judging figure skating competition was thrown out and rebuilt.

4. AGENT OF STYLE.

Jackson Haines was an American figure skater in the mid-1800s who had some crazy ideas about the sport. He had this absolutely ludicrous notion of skating to music (music!), waltzing on ice, as well as incorporating balletic movements, athletic jumps, and spins into competition. His brand new style of skating was in complete contrast to the rigid, traditional, and formal (read: awkward) standard of tracing figure-eights into the ice. Needless to say, it was not well received by the skating world in America, so he was forced to take his talents to the Old World.

His new “international style” did eventually catch on around the globe, and Haines is now hailed as the father of modern figure skating. He also invented the sit spin, a technical element now required in almost every level and discipline of the sport.

5. LADIES LAST.

In 1902, competitive figure skating was a gentlemen's pursuit. Ladies simply didn't compete by themselves on the world stage (though they did compete in pairs events). But a British skater named Madge Syers flouted that standard, entering the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902. She ruffled a lot of feathers, but was ultimately allowed to compete and beat the pants off every man save one, earning the silver medal.

Her actions sparked a controversy that spurred the International Skating Union to create a separate competitive world event for women in 1906. Madge went on to win that twice, and became Olympic champion at the 1908 summer games [PDF] in London—the first “winter” Olympics weren't held until 1924 in France, several years after Madge died in 1917.

6. AGENT OF STYLE, PART 2.

A picture of Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie
Keystone/Getty Images

Norwegian skater Sonja Henie was the darling of the figure skating world in the first half of the 20th century. The flirtatious blonde was a three-time Olympic champion, a movie star, and the role model of countless aspiring skaters. She brought sexy back to skating—or rather, introduced it. She was the first skater to wear scandalously short skirts and white skates. Prior to her bold fashion choices, ladies wore black skates and long, conservative skirts. During WWII, a fabric shortage hiked up the skirts even further than Henie's typical length, and the ladies of figure skating have never looked back.

7. TOO SEXY FOR HER SKATES.

Katarina Witt displaying her gold medal
DANIEL JANIN, AFP/Getty Images

A buxom young beauty from the former Democratic German Republic dominated ladies figure skating in the mid- to late 1980s. A two-time Olympic champion, and one of the most decorated female skaters in history, Katarina Witt was just too sexy for her shirt—she tended to wear scandalously revealing costumes (one of which resulted in a wardrobe malfunction during a show), and was criticized for attempting to flirt with the judges to earn higher scores.

The ISU put the kibosh on the controversial outfits soon afterward, inserting a rule that all competitive female skaters “must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport.” The outrage forced Witt to add some fabric to her competitive outfits in the late '80s. But 10 years later she took it all off, posing naked for a 1998 issue of Playboy.

8. MORE COSTUME CONTROVERSY.

For the 2010 competitive year, the ISU's annual theme for the original dance segment (since defunct and replaced by the “short dance”) was “country/folk.” That meant competitors had to create a routine that explored some aspect of it, in both music and costume as well as in maneuvers. The top Russian pair chose to emulate Aboriginal tribal dancing in their program, decked in full bodysuits adorned with their interpretation of Aboriginal body paint (and a loincloth).

Their debut performance at the European Championships drew heavy criticism from Aboriginal groups in both Australia and Canada, who were greatly offended by the inaccuracy of the costumes and the routine. The Russian pair, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, were quick to dial down the costumes and dial up the accuracy in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the judges were not impressed. They ended up with the bronze, ending decades of Russian dominance in the discipline. (With the glaring exception of 2002, of course.)

9. IN MEMORIAM.

While not a scandal, this event bears mentioning because it has rocked the figure skating world arguably more than anything else. In February of 1961, the American figure skating team boarded a flight to Belgium from New York, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The plane went down mysteriously (cause still questioned today) as it tried to land in Brussels, killing all 72 passengers. America's top skaters and coaches had been aboard, including nine-time U.S. Champion and Olympic bronze medalist-turned-coach Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughter Laurence Owen, a 16-year-old who had been heavily favored to win the ladies event that year.

The ISU canceled the competition upon the news of the crash and the United States lost its long-held dominance in the sport for almost a decade. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) soon after established a memorial fund that helped support the skating careers of competitors in need of financial assistance, including future Olympic champions like Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming.

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How Austrian Soldiers Saved the 1964 Olympics
Allsport Hulton/Archive
Allsport Hulton/Archive

Although the Austrian city of Innsbruck has a well-deserved reputation as a winter sports mecca, it was dangerously low on snow and ice in the weeks leading up the 1964 Winter Olympics. So the organizers called in the troops.

Austrian soldiers went to work carving 20,000 blocks of ice away from the top of the mountain and then toting them down to make luge and bobsled tracks. In order to salvage the skiing events, the soldiers had to lug 40,000 cubic meters of snow from the tops of mountains down to the slopes that had been chosen for the various races. On top of that, they brought down an extra 20,000 cubic meters just in case anything bad happened to the first batch of snow.

And oh, how something bad did happen! Ten days before the opening ceremony, it started raining. As you probably know, rain and snow aren't the closest of chums, so much of the work that had already been done on the courses melted. The Austrian army again came to the rescue, though, taking to the slopes and tamping down the remaining snow by hand and foot. Thanks to this bit of resourcefulness, the games went on as planned.

Things aren't quite that tricky today, though. Artificially produced snow made its debut at the 1980 Winter Olympics, but the old "bring in some outside snow" tactic isn't totally dead. When the snow forecast for the Vancouver freestyle skiing and snowboarding venue Cypress Mountain looked grim in 2010, the organizers started trucking in loads of snow from other locations. Engineers then spread the snow on top of carefully situated bales of hay to give the slopes their desired shape. (How do you get bales of hay on a ski slope? You drop them from a helicopter.)

Of course, there's such a thing as too much winter weather for the Olympics, too. Snow and rain plagued the 1998 Nagano Games and led to lengthy delays and postponements for some events.

This post originally appeared in 2010.

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