The Senator Who Took on Alabama's Male-Dominated Culture Back in the '90s
State Senator, Alabama
Figures has become a trailblazer on her own. When she arrived in 1997, the Alabama Statehouse was very much locked in old ways: Smoking was allowed everywhere, and women were required to wear dresses. (Back then Figures was one of only two women in the 35-member Senate.) She got smoking banned in the capitol, and she defied and ultimately changed the discriminatory dress code. In 2011, she led a protest of five female senators to draw attention to the fact that seven of the Senate’s 20 committees had no women; that quickly changed as well.
In 2013, she made history again: As Senate minority leader, she was the first woman in memory to serve as minority or majority leader in either the Alabama House or Senate.