Social work is a practice-based and academic discipline that works with individuals, families, groups, communities, and society as a whole in an effort to meet basic needs and enhance social functioning, self-determination, collective responsibility, optimal health, and overall well-being. As a profession, it has had many amazing female trailblazers who have shaped the role as we know it. In lieu of Women’s History Month, what better time than now, to highlight our top 5 most influential women in the history of social Work!

Harriett Rinaldo (1906-1981)
Harriet was a pioneer of standardizing the social work profession, she created rating and recruitment procedures and higher personnel standards for the Veterans Administration Social Work Service. Harriett's standards were adopted by the federal government during her tenure. 

Edith Abbott (1876-1957)
Edith Abbott spent much of her academic career as dean of the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. During her tenure, she helped to write the Social Security Act of 1935 and founded the Social Service Review, a University of Chicago journal dedicated to publishing “original research on pressing social issues and social welfare policies.” She also served as a consultant to Harry Hopkins, one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advisers, and later became president of the American Association of Schools of Social Work and the National Conference of Social Work.

Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973)
Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She graduated from the Columbia School of Social Work and she was an advocate of women’s suffrage. Her first act as a congresswoman was to introduce a suffrage amendment on the House floor; the amendment was passed about a year later.

Frances Perkins (1880 – 1965)
She was the first woman to be a Presidential Cabinet member, serving as Secretary of Labor under Franklin D. Roosevelt. She helped pass the first minimum wage law and was one of the writers of the National Labor Relations Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Social Security Act. 

Jane Addams (1860-1935)
Perhaps the most famous and decorated female social worker, Jane Addams founded one of the world’s first settlement houses – the renowned Hull House in Chicago – and received the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize. 

Thank you to all of the past and future female trailblazers! Help us celebrate Women's history month by making a donation now at