50 Empowering Facts About Women Who Inspired Generations of Girls

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1 Helen Keller 

Helen Keller 

The first word that Helen Keller learned was water. Her tutor took Helen’s hand, poured water over it, and then spelled out W-A-T-E-R in Helen’s palm. Helen made the association between the writing in her palm and the water. After this breakthrough, Helen learned 30 more words that day.

2. In 1887, a reporter named Nellie Bly talked her way into an insane asylum in New York and published her experience after ten days in the asylum. She claimed many of the patients seemed completely sane and the conditions were horrid. This led to NYC budgeting $1,000,000 to care of the insane.

3. Eleanor Roosevelt held weekly press conferences that allowed only female journalists to attend, forcing many news organizations to hire their first female reporters.

4. Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman in space. She also was a doctor in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone, started her own business, writes children’s books, has produced and directed modern dance plays, and was also in a few episodes of Star Trek.

5. The first woman to run for President of the United States was Victoria Woodhull in 1872, 50 years before women could vote. She had Frederick Douglass as her running mate and spent election day in jail due to being arrested for obscenity.

6 Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman

Bessie Coleman was an American aviator and the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Because flying schools in the United States denied her entry, she taught herself French and moved to France, earning her license from France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation in just 7 months

7. “Stagecoach Mary” was the first African-American woman mail carrier in the USA. She worked the route for 8 years and never missed a day. She won the contract because she was the fastest applicant to hitch a team of 6 horses (she was 60 years old at the time).

8. Dr. Jane Goodall set herself apart from traditional conventions by naming the animals in her studies of primates instead of assigning each a number. This also led her to develop a close bond with the chimpanzees and to become, to this day, the only human ever accepted into chimpanzee society.

9. In 1939, at the age of 16, Queen Anne of Romania fled from Nazi Germany and eventually escaped to the US. She attended college in New York and worked as a sales assistant at Macy’s department store. In 1943, she volunteered for military service in the French Army, where she received the Cross of war

10. Rosa Parks didn’t actually refuse to sit in the back of the bus. She was sitting in the back of the bus but refused to give up her seat in the “colored section” to a white passenger after the whites-only section was filled.

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11 Marie Curie

Marie Curie

Marie Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences couldn’t legally attend college, so she did it illegally, going to what was known as the ‘Flying University’, a secret organization.

12. Eleanor Roosevelt regularly refused Secret Service protection, and instead traveled with a .22 Smith and Wesson on her person.

13. Jeannette Rankin, the first woman to be elected to Congress, voted in favor of the original House resolution that ultimately gave women the right to vote. She later noted that she was “the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”

14. Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space on 16 June 1963, where she spent three days orbiting the Earth 48 times and she is the only woman to have completed a solo space mission.

15. Joan of Arc asked King Charles VII to exempt her village from taxes “forever.” This was upheld for over 300 years until the French Revolution happened and the promise was forgotten.

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16 Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

Several years after Harriet Tubman escaped to freedom, she returned to rescue her enslaved husband. When she found out he’d remarried another woman and didn’t want to leave, she thought about making a scene, decided it wasn’t worth it, and then led several other slaves to freedom instead.

17. In 2015, Tu Youyou became the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize, for helping to create an anti-malaria medicine. In China, she is being called the “three noes” winner: no medical degree, no doctorate, and she’s never worked overseas.

18. Bobbi Gibb is the first woman to have run the entire Boston Marathon in 1966. At the time when women were banned from entering because of their gender, she entered the marathon wearing her brother’s Bermuda shorts and a hooded sweatshirt and finished the race unofficially.

19. Amelia Earhart wrote a prenup letter to her fiancée, George Putnam, stating she wanted an open marriage and “I shall not hold you to a medieval code of faithfulness to me, nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly”. Also “I may have to keep someplace where I can go to be myself”.

20. When Marie Curie ran out of radium for her research in 1921, a women’s magazine led a crowdfunding campaign and raised $100,000 to buy her some more.

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21 Margaret Hamilton

Margaret Hamilton

Preventing an abort of the Apollo 11 mission has been attributed to the work of Margaret Hamilton, the lead flight software designer for Project Apollo. She was 31 when the lunar module landed on the moon, running her code, and is credited for coining the term “software engineering.”

22. Anne Frank wrote in her famous diary, “When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that’s a big question, will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?”

23. Rosalind Franklin is the unsung hero of DNA research. Her X-ray Crystallography allowed her colleagues Watson and Crick to accurately characterize the double helix. Many believe she should’ve shared in their Nobel prize.

24. First Lady Lou Henry Hoover was the first American woman to earn a geology degree. She spoke 5 languages fluently and is the only first lady to speak an Asian language. She established the American Women’s War Relief Fund and founded the National Women’s Conference on Law Enforcement.

25. Susan B. Anthony, although known for her work on women’s suffrage, was also an abolitionist. She collected anti-slavery petitions when she was 17, and in her 30’s she became the New York state agent for the American Anti-Slavery Society.

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