Six women of differing ages and races stand with their arms around each other.

4 Women Who Will Inspire You This Women’s History Month

As a woman-owned business, we can’t get enough of women’s success stories. We’re especially partial to the stories of women in interpreting. This month, we’re highlighting four interpreters who knocked our socks off. (They’re that inspiring.)

Here’s to the women who have made history before us and the ones who are making history now!

Related: From Past to Present: Women Interpreters Continue to Lead the Way

Grace Bagnato

Grace Bagnato was appointed the first official female court interpreter in Toronto, Canada, in 1921. She was raised to speak English but made it her mission to learn the languages of her neighbors in her community of immigrants. She spoke English, Yiddish, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian, German, and Italian. A few years before World War II started, she had become the most requested interpreter in Toronto.

Bagnato also aided her community as a cultural liaison. For example, during Prohibition, she bridged the gap between government officials and Italian immigrants, who were continuing the custom of making wine from their home country after moving to North America. It is also said that her work may have kept German and Italian men from internment during World War II.

She inspires us with her love for her community.

Dr. Lomb Kató

Dr. Lomb Kató is a role model for language learners everywhere. As if being one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world in the 1950s wasn’t achievement enough, the Hungarian polyglot worked professionally in an astounding 16 languages, and she professed the ability to at least read in a total of 28 languages.

Beyond interpreting in matters of state and business, Dr. Lomb was also an author. Her books further mark her as a beacon of language learning. Most of her language knowledge was achieved through self-study, and her writings detail how she was able to learn such a large collection of languages.

She inspires us with her dedication to language learning.

Dr. Kateryna Rietz-Rakul

Dr. Kateryna Rietz-Rakul is one of only two interpreters who can simultaneously interpret a combination of English, German, Ukrainian, and Russian. She is perhaps most known for her interpretation of a press conference led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which she tugged at the heartstrings of people across nations when she was brought to tears as she interpreted Zelensky’s statements of Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

Though this is a well-known moment in her career, it should not be the one point that defines Dr. Reitz-Rakul. She is skilled in her field and has an admirable commitment to unbiased interpreting.

She inspires us with her strength in the face of difficult conversations.

Shinju Sakuma

Shinju Sakuma is believed to be the first woman hired as an interpreter for Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league. The league stated that they couldn’t confirm her status as the first female interpreter, as they do not have access to team employees’ personal information, but it is known for sure that Sakuma is the only woman hired as an interpreter for her team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, since they moved to Sapporo in 2004.

What makes the accomplishment even more impressive is that Sakuma is only 22 years old, and she is already building a promising career for herself.

She inspires us as a trailblazer in the world of sports interpreting.

Which women in interpreting inspire you? Let us know!