Women in business are more than movers and shakers. They are creators, connectors, innovators, and pioneers.

From the first African-American women who ran their own businesses post-slavery, to the women breaking ground in the Middle East today, businesswomen make a difference. They inspire, lead, and motivate young girls and women to succeed and thrive.

3 Fascinating and Inspiring Businesswomen of the Past

Before we take a look at some of the women doing great things in business today, let’s review a few highlights of the past. Here are three women who made it big, back in times when women weren’t given much opportunity to do so.

1. Elizabeth Arden

Many women do not realize that the brand name of their favorite make-up is actual the name of a successful businesswoman. Elizabeth Arden was born in 1884 and died in 1966. She was a pioneer in the use of mass marketing techniques to sell her products and promote her salons. Prior to her influence, make-up was seen as lower class, and Arden was instrumental in expanding the market for it.

Arden’s slogan was “To be beautiful and natural is the birthright of every woman.”

2. Bridget ‘Biddy’ Mason

Biddy Mason was a former slave who was born in 1819 and died in 1891. As one of the first black women ever to own land in the United States, she built her own real estate empire. She successfully took a $250 purchase of land in what is now downtown Los Angeles, which grew into a $300,000 real estate business by 1884 (a lot of money at that time).

3. Mary Katherine Goddard

Mary Katherine Goddard (1738-1816) ran a number of publications, including the weekly Providence Gazette, the Pennsylvania Chronicle, and The Maryland Journal, Baltimore’s first newspaper.

Through her family’s printing business, she managed the production of the first printed copy of the Declaration of Independence. She also was the first woman in America to open a bookstore in 1789.

3 Amazing Women Doing Big Things in Business Today

These three women are only a small representation of the exciting things going on with women in business today.

1. Mary Barra

The current CEO and Chairman of General Motors is Mary Barra. She has been recognized by Fortune magazine as the number one most powerful women in business for three straight years.

Among her accomplishments, Fortune cites GM’s beating Tesla in the electric car market in 2016. Under her leadership, GM has seen its best sales growth in many years at 9% revenue growth.

2. Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson is the Chairman and CEO of Fidelity Investments. She took over the mantle from her father in 2016. The company has been struggling a bit, but she is actively working on a turnaround. With $15.9 billion in revenue for 2016, the company’s assets have grown 11%.

3. Lubna S. Olayan

Despite Saudi Arabia’s poor track record when it comes to women’s rights, Lubna S. Olayan has been a woman business pioneer, breaking through glass doors and ceilings since her start in 1983. Olayan was the first woman in Saudi Arabia to join the board of a public traded company in 2004.

She is now the CEO of Olayan Financing Company, which is one of the biggest family-owned conglomerates in Saudi Arabia. The mega-company owns more than 40 other companies.

Consider Becoming a Woman in Business

While you may not be on the path to be a CEO of a Fortune 500 company (or perhaps you are!), you can be a great businesswoman. Entrepreneurship is a wonderful way to make your mark in the world. Start your own company, get a Kickstarter going, be the next Bill Gates (as a female version), building your empire from your garage or basement. You can do it.

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