Mary Kay Ash, the legendary business executive and philanthropist, was among the honorees of USA TODAY’s Women of the Century list.
To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment and women’s right to vote in the United States, USA TODAY released the Women of the Century USA TODAY 100, a list of female icons in entertainment, politics, civil rights, sports, arts, science and business who made the largest impact on American society in the last century.
Mary Kay Ash founded Mary Kay Cosmetics (now Mary Kay Inc.) in 1963 following a successful career in sales. After being passed up for promotion by a man one too many times, she put her business savvy to use to build a company by women, for women. Fifty-seven years later, Mary Kay products and independent beauty consultants are in nearly 40 countries around the world. Before her death in 2001, Mary Kay also founded the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation, which has raised over $90 million for domestic violence victims and cancer research.
“Mary Kay was always ahead of her time,” said Ryan Rogers, chief investment officer of Mary Kay Inc. and grandson of Mary Kay Ash. “She would’ve been honored and humbled to be named among so many incredible women in the Women of the Century USA TODAY 100. But Mary Kay’s personal ‘top women’ list would have been much longer. She saw potential in every woman.”
Fellow honorees include Dolly Parton, Gloria Estefan, Anna May Wong, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King, Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou and “Hidden Figures” Mary Jackson, Katherine Coleman Johnson and Dorothy Vaughan. Women were selected through nominations and then narrowed down through rigorous debate by expert panelists in every state across the nation.