It’s About Time: A Woman Will Be on New $10 Bill

By  | 

The Treasury Department made history Wednesday when it announced its decision to have a woman on a new version of the $10 bill. This move marks an important step forward for the equality of men and women in American history.

In a press release on the topic, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew stated:

America’s currency is a way for our nation to make a statement about who we are and what we stand for. Our paper bills–and the images of great American leaders and symbols they depict—have long been a way for us to honor our past and express our values. 

We have only made changes to the faces on our currency a few times since bills were first put into circulation, and I’m proud that the new 10 will be the first bill in more than a century to feature the portrait of a woman.

The new bill will be released in 2020, exactly one century after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote.

There have already been several advocates for a female face on U.S. paper currency. Earlier this year the Women on 20s campaign was launched, with the goal of getting a woman on the $20 bill by 2020. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced a bill directing Lew to “convene a panel of citizens” to recommend an appropriate person. The campaign conducted a ten week poll in May to find out which woman Americans wanted to see represented, with Harriet Tubman finishing in first place.

It doesn’t appear that the Treasury Department will take the Women on 20s campaign’s advice on who the new bill should feature. Instead, officials plan to hold town hall meetings and roundtable discussions to discuss “what qualities best represent democracy to help guide the design process.”

The Treasury Department is also accepting social media submissions using the hashtag #TheNew10, and through comments posted to a dedicated part of the Treasury website, with the decision announced later this year.

The decision made by the Treasury Department has certainly been a win for those who advocate for women’s rights. Placing a woman’s face on the $10 bill will celebrate a female leader in a very public way, which is a long time coming. Over the past century, a few women have been featured on currency, including Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea. But they have been limited to dollar coins, a currency that does not really receive prominent circulation.

Secretary Lew’s press release referred to how currency reflect the country’s values. The point is well taken, because while women have made notable progress in the United States, there is still more work to be done. The gender imbalance among the country’s leaders can be found in the lack of CEOs on the Fortune 500 list and, the absence of women leading tech companies, or even their lack of presence within our government. There also still exists a persistent wage gap between the sexes. The presence of high profile female leaders and role models can have a significant impact on increasing the leadership skills and educational attainments of young girls and women. Even though the United States is taking in step toward elevating the lesser told stories of important female leaders, this step is long overdue.

Angel Idowu
Angel Idowu is a member of the Beloit College Class of 2016 and was a Law Street Media Fellow for the Summer of 2015. Contact Angel at



Send this to friend