Women's History Month: Thetas in Business

Category: Heritage

Noraleen DuVall Young

Alpha Chi, Purdue

March is Women's History Month in the US. Each year, the National Women’s History Project selects a theme and honors women in a specific field of endeavor. For 2017, the theme is "Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business." Among these national honorees is Barbara Hackman Franklin, Beta Phi/Penn State. She was selected for her public service in the US Department of Commerce and for assisting in developing commercial relationships with China.

The Notable Thetas list on the heritage website includes many Thetas recognized for their contributions in the business field. In honor of Women's History Month, I want to share some that you may not know about.

Anne Seward, Alpha Zeta/Barnard, worked in the finance industry. In the late 1910s, she worked in the Paris office of a US bank; she later worked for several different US banks, promoting the role of women in the industry. During World War I, she worked on the Federal Reserve Board as head of the research department, division of foreign exchange. In 1924, Seward wrote a pamphlet titled “The Woman’s Department,” encouraging the use of dedicated women’s departments in banks. She also wrote several articles on bootlegging for The New York Times.

Hope Skillman Schary, Alpha Delta/Goucher, was a designer and manufacturer of high-quality cotton fabric. In 1942, she formed Hope Skillman, Inc, which she ran until she retired in the 1960s. She was noted for her support of women in the workplace; for some years hiring only women in her executive offices. She served as president of the New York chapter of the Fashion Group, a professional organization for women in the fashion industry.

A more recent Theta in business is Elizabeth Franke Stevens, Beta Rho/Duke, currently senior vice president of Corporate Citizenship, Environment, and Conservation for The Walt Disney Company. Dr. Stevens is responsible for overseeing the company’s environment and conservation programs. In 2010, she received the Audubon Society’s Women in Conservation Program’s Rachel Carson Award for her work in conservation.

Check out Notables Thetas on the heritage website and use the "Business, Industry & Economics" category to find additional Theta businesswomen.