Welcome to Grist’s own Woman Crush Wednesday, our weekly roundup of badass women in the news. For those unfamiliar with Woman Crush Wednesday, you may have stumbled upon the hashtag #wcw attached to pics of particularly swoon-worthy women — Naomi Campbell, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Shailene Woodley — across your social media. This new series is our own homage to all the babes out there that make our palms sweaty and our hearts flutter.

That being said: Our idea of “babes” doesn’t have anything to do with T&A, so if yours does, you may want to head elsewhere within the interwebs. But should you find yourself getting all hot and bothered over women making the news for their killer contributions to activism, science, agriculture, urban planning, or climate policy, please read on!

Here’s the thing: For many women, environmental rights and human rights are inextricably tied. This is devastatingly true for indigenous women in the Pacific Islands, for example, whose entire livelihoods depend on a delicate balance of natural resources and are imperiled by climate change. It’s also a major issue for American women, whose reproductive and sexual rights — which, yes, are an environmental issue — come under frequent attack from political groups who question how much control a woman should have over her own fertility.

And while gender disparities within the science, tech, engineering, and math fields aren’t new issues, they’re still important ones to discuss. When both sexes aren’t equally involved in climate mitigation and adaptation, guess who gets left out to dry (or drown, as the case may be)? There are many brilliant women who drop their careers too soon — maybe because a female scientist’s salary is just 82 percent of what their male counterparts make, or because universities and colleges employ more male scientists than female ones.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

But it’s not all bad news! Women in agriculture are going strong: About 30 percent of all our farmers are women — and they’re more likely to own their land than male farmers, too. Gals are also launching green fashion lines (at the tender age of 8, no less); leading sustainable cities movements; publishing magazines about food and feminism; and heading up some of the largest environmental groups in the U.S. These eco-babes are role models, and it’s important to acknowledge the countless others just like them.

Without further ado, here’s who we’ve been crushing on this week:

  • Hope Jahren, the geobiologist who reclaimed #ManicureMonday to call attention to all of the down-and-dirty scientific research that women are doing around the world. (Smithsonian.com)
  • Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi: the three women behind #blacklivesmatter. (California Sunday Magazine)
  • Los Angeles-based painter Lily Simonson, who participated in the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program, drawing inspiration from sea squirts for her art. (Pacific Standard)
  • Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) who introduced legislation requiring the FDA to withdraw approval for livestock antibiotics unless it’s proven they won’t spread disease-resistant superbugs. (Frontline)
  • And, in memoriam, marine biologist and shark expert Eugenie Clark — who once rode a 40-foot whale shark off Baja California and passed away last week at 92. (The New York Times)
  • Update: Oh, Barbara Mikulski, how could we forget. This week, the longest-serving female senator announced her retirement. Mikulski, a staunch supporter of funding for the sciences (including the Hubble telescope), was also the first woman to wear pants on the Senate floor, and a proponent of organizing bipartisan dinners with male senators to school them on gender politics. She’ll be sorely missed. (Think Progress)

Stay tuned for next week’s roundup!

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.


Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free. All donations DOUBLED!