3 women who made history after the age of 50

March is Women’s History Month

The women who have changed the world for the better overcame obstacles of race, economic status, religion, and, in some cases, their age.

During Women’s History Month, many of those courageous changemakers have been honored for their trailblazing contributions to science, sports, literature, entertainment, politics, and society as a whole. While there are many examples of female pioneers who hit milestones at an early age, some of the unsung “sheroes” in modern history made their marks later in life.

Below, take a look at just a few of the legendary women who reached their heights of achievement after the age of 50.



Hattie Caraway

Hattie Caraway, born Hattie Wyatt in 1878, was raised in rural Humphreys County, Tennessee, with her farming family. Her determination and political prowess would take her from farm life to being the first woman to become a U.S. Senator.

In the early 1900s, Caraway and her husband Thaddeus Caraway settled in Jonesboro, Arkansas, with their three sons. Thaddeus Caraway, a lawyer, pursued a political career and was elected to the Senate in 1920 and began serving in 1921.

While her husband supported the Southern Democratic party’s efforts, Hattie Caraway tended to their cotton farm and was once quoted as saying she avoided Washington, D.C., and women’s suffrage campaigning, but “just added voting to cooking and sewing and other household duties.”

That would all change when her husband died in 1931. Arkansas Gov. Harvey Parnell appointed Caraway to her husband’s Senate seat, following the precedent that widows would temporarily take their husbands’ positions. Hattie Caraway was confirmed as a U.S. Senator in January of 1932. At the age of 53, she was the first woman to be elected to the Senate.

She did not hold the title temporarily; Caraway stayed in office until 1945, cosponsoring the Equal Rights Amendment in 1943 — she was the first woman in Congress to do so.



Toni Morrison

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, in the 1930s, Toni Morrison, born Chloe Wofford, and her family were among the few African Americans in the Midwest community. Her experiences with racism and sexism fueled her perseverance to become an award-winning novelist.

After marrying (she later divorced in 1974) and becoming a mom to two sons, Morrison decided to quit the book publishing business to devote her time to writing novels. Her first novel, “The Bluest Eye,” an exposé of a Black adolescent’s anguished existence amid the only-white-is-beautiful norm, would immediately resonate with readers. “Sula”, “Song of Solomon,” and “Beloved” are some of the notable novels that have been designated literary classics.

Morrison influenced a legion of Black writers, who basked as she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for 1987′s “Beloved,” and became the first Black woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993. She accomplished those amazing feats in her late 50s and early 60s.

Michelle Yeoh

One of the newest additions to groundbreaking women who broke the mold is Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh.

Yeoh, born in Ipoh, Malaysia, originally was drawn to ballet as a child, studying at the renowned Royal Academy of Dance in London. After an injury, she readjusted her career sights to acting. In the 1990s, her performances in Hong Kong action films such as “Supercop” (1992) and “Holy Weapon” (1993) began to receive notice, especially since she did her own stunts. Critical acclaim and international notoriety followed after her lead role in Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in 2000. She was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.

It would be 23 years later, during Women’s History Month nonetheless, that Yeoh, 60, would make history by becoming the first Asian woman to receive the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in “Everything Everywhere All At Once.”

“For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight, this is a beacon of hope and possibilities,” she said during her acceptance speech. “This is proof — dream big, and dreams do come true. And ladies, don’t let anybody tell you you are ever past your prime. Never give up.”