Iowa Women's Hall of Fame

iowa department of human rights

Press Release  -  May 31, 2018

2018 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Inductees and Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice Recipient Announced

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (ICSW) is pleased to announce the 2018 Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame inductees. Four remarkable women will be inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame, and one outstanding woman will receive the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice

To highlight women's heritage and recognize their important contributions to society, the ICSW established the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975. Each subsequent year, the ICSW and the Iowa Department of Human Rights welcome four women into the Hall of Fame, paying tribute to them and setting them forth as role models for others. The ICSW also awards the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice to a recipient who has made a significant contribution to the state of Iowa in the area of equity and justice. 

The 2018 Hall of Fame honorees are:

  • Dr. Dianne Bystrom (Ames, IA): Long-time director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University; author; professor; mentor; researcher; advocate for women in politics and leadership.
  • Ruth Harkin (Cumming, IA): Attorney; advocate; mentor; led the effort to establish the Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University; woman of many firsts – first female county attorney in Story Count, first woman appointed Deputy General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, first female President and CEO of OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation), and first woman to serve on a number of corporate boards (including Conoco Petroleum Company and Bowater Company).
  • Dr. Jean Jew (Iowa City, IA): Professor; emeritus faculty at the University of Iowa; researcher; fought a decade-long landmark federal sexual harassment case against the University of Iowa and won; founding member of the Iowa Women’s Foundation; mentor; advocate for gender equity and combating sexual harassment in the workplace/academia.
  • Dr. Peggy Whitson (Houston, TX; originally from Beaconsfield, IA): Astronaut, scientist/biochemist, researcher; first female Commander to lead an expedition on board the International Space Station; oldest woman to walk in space; holds the record for the most space walks for a female astronaut; American Astronaut spending more days in space cumulatively, than any other American Astronaut.

The 2018 Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice recipient is:

  • Janice Edmunds-Wells (Des Moines, IA): Life-long state and national advocate and activist for multicultural and women’s health equity; former Executive Director for the Office of Minority and Multicultural Health at the Iowa Department of Public Health; social worker.

As of 2018, 176 women will have been inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, and the ICSW will have awarded the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice to 31 recipients.

Event Information

The event will be held on Saturday, August 18, 2018, at 9:30 a.m. at the State Historical Building, 600 E. Locust St., Des Moines, Iowa. The event is free and open to the public.  The Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women will host a reception immediately following the ceremony. 

Note to editors: Media are welcome and encouraged to attend the event. A separate press release will be issued closer to the event and will include pictures and biographies.