These are a few women whose names spark instant recognition for their contributions to history.
But what about the many other inspirational women history has overlooked?
We think it’s important to shine a light on some other women whose names you might not recognize, but played a crucial role in shaping the world as we know it.
Here are ten amazing inspirational women who deserve more recognition for their accomplishments.
Margaret Bourke-White is an American photographer who was the first foreign photographer allowed to take pictures in the Soviet Union, the first-ever female war correspondent, and the first female photographer for Life Magazine. All major achievements, especially for being a woman in the 1940s.
While she was working for both Life Magazine and U.S. Air Force. She survived a torpedo attack while on a ship to North Africa and wrote a legendary article detailing her involvement, she published a total of 12 books in her lifetime about her experiences.
She received many awards for her work including honorary doctorates from Rutgers University and the University of Michigan, the US Camera Achievement award, and was a Women’s History Month Honoree.
Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was an activist, teacher, and crucial spokesperson for the women’s rights and suffrage movements during the 19th century. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, another important figure in the crusade, she played a pivotal role that led to women gaining the right to vote.
Unfortunately, Susan B. Anthony died before all American women officially won the right to vote in 1920.
Although she did not live to see women’s suffrage achieved, she was a huge part of the change and we thank her for that.
In 1979, Susan B. Anthony’s image was chosen for the new dollar coin, making her the first woman to be depicted on U.S. currency.
Inspirational women in computer science: back in the ’60s (and still very much today) men dominated the technology and engineering field. But, the “founding father” of computer software as we know it was actually a woman and single mother.
She was the director of the Software Engineering Division of MIT, which developed on-board flight software for NASA’s Apollo space program. Throughout the project, Hamilton wrote code for the world’s first portable computer, a decade before Microsoft was even in the picture. Little did she know; her program would become a $400 billion industry.
Her work has had such a major impact on the field of software engineering. She has received the NASA Exceptional Space Act Award and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Simone Segouin is a French Resistance fighter who served in a French Resistance Group at the young age of 18.
She is best known for a photograph of her waiting to face the Germans with a gun in her hand. She essentially became a symbol of women’s involvement in the Resistance overnight.
By the time the photo was taken, she had killed two Germans in Paris and also had assisted in capturing 25 German prisoners of war. At the height of the Nazi occupation of France, she joined the Francs-Tireurs et Partisans – a combat alliance made up of communists and French nationalists.
Simone brought awareness to the difficulty of women fighting in the Resistance. They made up less than ten percent, and the majority were confined to non-combat roles. When the war was over, she was awarded the prestigious Croix de Guerre and was promoted to lieutenant.
Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker, born Sarah Breedlove, and was one of the first American women to become a self-made millionaire by creating specialized hair products for African Americans.
She was born after the Emancipation Proclamation, on the same plantation where her parents had been earlier enslaved. She was orphaned at age seven, married at 14, and a widow at age 20 with a young daughter to care for.
Her successes started when she developed a scalp disorder that caused her to lose some of her hair.
After, she began to experiment with home remedies in an attempt to improve her condition. This lead to the discovery of her “Wonderful Scalp Ointment” and a complete line of “Walker Products”.
Entrepreneur, philanthropist, and activist, Madam C.J. Walker rose from poverty to self-made wealth. She used her power to advocate for the advancement of black rights and education across America.
Indira Gandhi’s nickname was the ‘Iron Lady’ of India. She was an Indian politician, and the first and only female Prime Minister of India.
First appointed prime minister in 1966, she garnered widespread public support for agricultural improvements that led to India’s self-sufficiency in food growing production as well as for her success in the Pakistan war, which resulted in the creation of Bangladesh today, which was formerly East Pakistan. She was voted out of office in 1975, following controversial political issues but was re-elected in 1980.
During her second reign, she approved an attack on a Sikh Temple in order to find extremists that may have been hiding out. This resulted in a few deaths and extensive damage to the temple which caused horror in the Sikh communities. Because of this, Indira was assassinated by her own lifelong bodyguards which were followed by massive outrage and riots across India.
Her legacy is controversial but powerful and she is still widely admired across India.
Gertrude Benham was probably the most widely traveled explorer of the early 20th century, period.
She was a remarkable mountaineer, tackling some of the highest peaks in the world. She was the first recorded woman to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro and explore Africa on foot. As she traveled, she made notes which were later used in mapping many countries across the world.
A woman traveling alone to such exotic places in the 1920s was basically unheard of. But, she was fearless and passionate which makes her such an extraordinary inspirational woman. However, due to sexism in the early 19th century, Benham’s accomplishments were not celebrated in the way they should have been. Her ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro should have written her into the record books, but has, for the most part, been left out.
Marie Curie is probably one of the better-known women on this list since she discovered the elusive element radium.
This may not seem like much to the non-scientific mind, but it opened the door to the way we think about matter and energy which has paved the way for the treatment of so many diseases.
She was the first woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, and the first person ever to win it twice in the same field. Let that sink in for a minute…
Her many accomplishments include; being the first female professor at the University of Paris, the first woman to be entombed in the Pantheon in Paris, and the only woman to win the Noble Peace Prize in multiple sciences.
She is also responsible for theorizing the concept of radioactivity and coining the term as well. Marie Curie gave her life to scientific research and made significant breakthroughs in her life. This is still an inspiration for scientists today.
Of course, we know that she died from radiation poisoning due to pre-longed exposure to radium. But, her daughter carried on her important work and her scientific brilliance lives on.
Elizabeth Eckford is featured in arguably one of the Iconic Images of the civil rights movement. Which lead to her becoming an unintentional civil activist of sorts…
On the morning of September 4, 1957, she was to join eight other students, a group that was later known as the Little Rock Nine, to become the first group of black students to enroll at the all-white Little Rock Central High School.
However, because she did not have a phone in her home, Eckford never received the message to meet with the group of students before heading to school together. So that morning, Eckford went directly to the school alone.
Once there, she encountered the screaming mob and the Arkansas National Guard. The guard was there to prevent black students from entering the school, even though it was their legal right to attend. The photo of her walking to class has become so famous and Elizabeth went on to be a powerful, yet inspirational woman in the civil rights movement.
Elizabeth, along with the rest of the Little Rock Nine, were the recipients of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Spingarn Medal. In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented the group with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to go into space. In 1963, she spent three days in space and orbited Earth 48 times in her capsule and to this day, remains the only woman to have been on a solo space mission.
Tereshkova volunteered for the Soviet space program without any prior experience. She was accepted because of her 126 parachute jumps as an amateur skydiver and her extensive training began. She later remained in the space program as a cosmonaut instructor. After her space career, she toured the world to promote Soviet science and became heavily involved in Soviet politics.
She received the Order of Lenin and the Gold Star Medal. She became a spokesperson for the Soviet Union.
While fulfilling this role she received the United Nations Gold Medal of Peace. An inspirational woman at space.