Earlier this year the mayor of Houston admitted to having some "trepidation" about appointing Elizabeth Watson as the chief of police. "I was concerned about the support she would get. I had a little experience along those lines myself," said Kathryn Whitmire, who also happens to be the city's first female mayor. But eight months after becoming the first U.S. woman to head a big-city force, Watson, 41, has shown she can hack it. She took over a department reeling from low morale caused by widespread staff reductions and paltry salaries and quickly won the force a 6% raise. Lauded as a hard worker who came up through the ranks, Watson will never forget being handed a dress pattern and told to sew her own uniform as a rookie cop 18 years ago. She went on to serve with distinction in practically every division from auto theft to the SWAT team, and insists that macho behavior in the department never bothered her. "Look where I am now. Heck, obviously I haven't been too put- upon," says Watson, who's expecting her third child in December. Her planned maternity leave: just six weeks.
She has been called the First Lady of Rock, but Lynn Hill wows the crowd with graceful moves instead of music. In fact, her best licks are performed dangling from a 70-ft. sheer limestone cliff. Hill, 29, is the world's best woman rock climber. Her vertical inclination dates back to her California childhood, when she displayed an early enthusiasm for climbing walls, telephone poles and trees. Before long she graduated to scaling cliffs in the Sierra Nevadas. "I think I'm a really fortunate person, because what I'm doing for a career is also my passion," says the 5-ft. 2-in., 100-lb. Hill. Her long-term plans include finishing her book, The Art of Free Climbing, making a climbing video and designing a line of fitness togs that "bridge the gap between functional clothing for sports and leisure wear." Meanwhile, she will continue seeking new ways to defy gravity -- and sexual stereotypes.
Ever since her stint as a gun smuggler for the Zionist underground movement in Europe during World War II, Mathilde Krim has not flinched at taking bold action. Over the past decade the New York City-based virologist has concentrated on fighting AIDS. Although her involvement began in the lab, - where she studied the effectiveness of the protein interferon in treating an AIDS-related cancer, these days Krim, 64, works mostly in the public arena as a fund raiser and lobbyist. Her mission: to replace ignorance with knowledge and compassion. As the wife of movie mogul Arthur Krim, she has also enlisted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Barbra Streisand. "I use my contacts because it's my duty," says Krim, who so far has raised $40 million for research. After all, she adds, the way wealthy societies deal with AIDS "will measure to what extent they have the right to call themselves civilized."