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10 Remarkable Women Who Shaped U.S. Business History

A tribute to the mothers of American business

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Juanita Morris Kreps

Durham, N.C.

Under President Jimmy Carter, Juanita Morris Kreps was the first woman to hold the position of U.S. Secretary of Commerce — only the fourth woman in history to hold a Cabinet position. Fueled by her adolescent experiences during the Great Depression, Kreps studied economics and earned a master’s degree and a doctorate at Duke University.

Kreps tapped into her business expertise and her passion for the advancement of professional women to write the influential 1971 book, Sex in the Marketplace: American Women at Work. She also co-wrote a study called Sex, Age, and Work: The Changing Composition of the Labor Force. In both, Kreps explored the common but often-ignored challenges faced by working women in America. She advocated for flexible work schedules, public preschools and equal pay.

Kreps was highly regarded in the business community and served as a director at the New York Stock Exchange, Eastman Kodak and J.C. Penney. She leveraged that esteem to champion corporate social-responsibility initiatives. Kreps encouraged businesses to make a positive impact on the world by attending to the best interests of minorities, women, the environment and low-income families.

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