New MAKERS: Shirley Tilghman, Vendela Vida, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This week on MAKERS, we’re featuring a molecular biologist, a renowned author, and a Supreme Court Justice of the United States.


When asked about her childhood, Shirley Tilghman emphasizes the changing expectations for women since her generation. For instance, she was told that due to her intelligence and fondness for study, she could be a secretary at the executive level. Her father became disheartened at the notion that his daughter, and other girls, would be constrained by such gendered limitations. He was right to aim high – his daughter, Shirley Tilghman would one day become a molecular biologist in the field of genetic imprinting, and the first woman president of Princeton University. Find out more about Shirley Tilghman by going to her profile. Find out why she’s an impassioned advocate for the promotion of women in science, and how she helps other women balance work and family.


Vendela Vida was a precocious child who realized that if she called her lies, “stories,” she would be “rewarded for her creativity and imagination,” instead of getting punished. As an adult, she pursued a career as an author, getting her degree in English from Middlebury College, an MFA from Columbia University and studying under Julia Alvarez, the author of How the García Girls Lost Their Accents. She has published three novels, is a co-editor for the magazine The Believer, and co-wrote the screenplay for the 2009 film, Away We Go. Her most recent book, The Lovers, was published in 2010. Discover more about Vendela Vida, her tips for balancing writing and raising a family, and her tips for young authors.


Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the second woman ever appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to her appointment, she broke numerous barriers for woman as a lawyer, and a professor of law. In 1954, Ginsburg graduated first in her class at Cornell University, and enrolled in Harvard Law School, where she was one of only nine women in her class.  In 1993, President Clinton appointed Ginsburg to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she has remained a strong voice in favor of gender equality and civil liberties. Find out more about her by visiting her profile