In recognition of International Women's Day, we're looking back at some of the stories we've published over the years about local female pioneers and inspirational women. 

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“You have to earn it.” That’s true for workers of all stripes, but it’s perhaps especially true for a group of Nebraska women who wouldn't take a back seat in their professions. These women represent the faces of progress.

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After 18 years of Noor Ahmed's father prodding her to speak up for herself, after nearly two decades of silence while others pointed at her hijab or told her to remove it, the first Muslim athlete in Nebraska women’s golf history is on a newfound mission to spark change around her. To show whoever, wherever, she belongs.

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“Other STEM departments have been under pressure to have more gender equity, but over the past 10 years we haven’t had to lift a finger,” said Walter Stroup, a UNL statistics professor. “We’d get 50 applicants for a job, and 25 would be women. The diversity problem has been self-solving in our industry.”

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On July 1, Cheryl Logan will step into a larger, more public role as the superintendent of Nebraska’s largest school district. Colleagues and friends say it’s a natural progression for a driven leader who has steadily risen through the ranks of education — from high school Spanish teacher to incoming superintendent — over the span of a 30-year career.

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Naomi Parker Fraley, who died Saturday at 96, was a survivor. She chased better jobs, better housing and a better life in the working-class tradition, that American Dream that’s not always quite so dreamy when you’re living it. She was something else, too, something Naomi – and the country – didn’t realize until recently, when a Nebraska-born World War II expert published 21st century research upending our understanding of a beloved 20th century image.

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