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Selecting the Groundbreakers

Betsy West

100 groundbreaking women.  It sounds like a lot until you take a look at the facts.  Over the past 50 years, there have been thousands and thousands of women on the frontlines of this historic movement for human rights.
 
As the filmmakers, we knew we were going to have to make some tough choices to whittle the number down to 100, and so we turned to an advisory board for guidance. 
 
Headed by Harvard professor Nancy Cott and including columnist Gail Collins (see full membership here), the board met in person in 2009 and then via email to suggest names and also to develop criteria.  The filmmakers came up with an initial list of women, which continued to evolve over the past two years, always keeping in mind the board’s criteria, which were to select:
 
   - Groundbreakers, women who are assuming roles once limited to men.
   - Activists—of all political persuasions
   - Role models—including some surprising, unpredictable choices with good, visual stories to tell.
 
Finally, of course, we were committed to diversity on all levels.  That is, the broadest range of professions, activities, generations…. and full inclusion of minority-group women, whose stories often get lost in the telling of women’s history.  
 
And so that’s how we came up with a list that includes Supreme Court Justices, Secretaries of State and CEOs.  Activists, educators, journalists, artists and a cartoonist.  Writers, athletes, politicians and doctors.  A nun and a rabbi.  A soldier, a firefighter and a body builder.  A coalminer, a Nobel Prize winning biologist and an NBA referee.  A building contractor turned developer turned Major League team owner. These are among the women on our list of groundbreaking MAKERS, each one with a story we found compelling and important to tell.  We hope you agree.
 
 
 
 
// Betsy West, Executive Producer at Storyville Films, has more than twenty-five years experience in television news and documentary films.  At ABC News, her work as co-creator and executive producer of the documentary program Turning Point, and senior producer at Nightline, earned her 21 Emmy Awards and two duPont-Columbia Awards. As senior vice president at CBS News from 1998-2005, Betsy oversaw 60 Minutes and 48 Hours, and was executive-in-charge of 9/11, winner of a Primetime Emmy Award.  She joined the Oscar-nominated production company Storyville Films in 2006, and was appointed associate professor at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 2007.  In 2008, she produced the theatrical documentary Constantine’s Sword. //

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