Posted by Mike Supina
Since March is National Women's History Month I thought it would be appropriate to publish a quick writeup on notable women Rotarians. I had no idea of the education I would receive.
As it turns out, there are very few notable women Rotarians because women were excluded from Rotary membership until 1989. And the decision to include women did not occur out of goodwill; resolutions to admit women had been circulated since 1950 and were consistently voted down. In 1978 Rotary International went so far as to terminate its association with a club in California that had admitted a woman member. It took a 1987 US Supreme Court ruling to open up American Rotary Clubs to women; Rotary International soon followed.
The first women District Governors were elected in 1995. The first woman elected to the Rotary International Board of Directors, Catherine Noyer-Riveau, began her term in 2008. Today there are over 200,000 women Rotarians worldwide and, I believe it is fair to say, women represent the most promising avenue for Rotary's growth and leadership. Bottom line: the history of women in Rotary is being written by us right now.
So with that, here is my (far too short) list of notable women Rotarians. Let's grow it:
  • Françoise Barré-Sinoussi: Isolated the AIDS virus at the Pasteur Institute (Rotary Club of La Rochelle-Aunis, France)
  • Dianne Feinstein: US Senator from California (Rotary Club of San Francisco CA)
  • Angela Merkel: Chancellor of Germany (Honorary Member: Rotary Club of Stralsund-Hansestadt, Berlin, Germany)
  • Lorraine H. Morton: Mayor of Evanston, Illinois 1993-2009 (Rotary Club of Evanston IL)
  • Catherine Noyer-Riveau: Gynecologist. First woman elected to the Rotary International Board of Directors (Rotary Club of Paris, France)
  • Donna Shalala: US Secretary of Health and Human Services (Rotary Club of Madison WI)