50 Empowering Facts About Women Who Inspired Generations of Girls

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26Deborah Sampson

The first female American soldier was Deborah Sampson, who enlisted using her dead brother's name to fight in the Revolutionary War. When she was wounded, she cut a musket ball out of her own leg to avoid doctors finding out she was a woman.

27. Annie Oakley was such a great shooter that she could repeatedly split a playing card, edge-on, and put several more holes in it before it could touch the ground, while using a .22 caliber rifle, at 90 feet.

28. Rachel Carson was the author of Silent Spring (1962). The book accused the chemical industry of spreading disinformation on the harmful effects of pesticides. The book is credited with inspiring the environmental movement, leading to the formation of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency

29. Mary Kenneth Keller from Cleveland, Ohio was the first woman to earn a PhD in Computer Science in the United States. She also earned a Masters degree in Mathematics and Physics and helped develop computer programming languages. She was a Catholic nun.

30. Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson was the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate from MIT, and the second in the US to earn a doctorate in physics. She was also made an International Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2012 and awarded the National Medal of Science in 2014.

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31Margaret Thompson

Margaret Thompson was the first woman to win an Olympic medal in a shooting sport (silver) in 1976 after tying with the gold medal winner. When the Olympic committee refused a shoot off, the gold medalist pulled Thompson onto the gold medal platform with him.

32. Prior to World War I, sharpshooter Annie Oakley was touring Europe. By his request, she knocked the ash from a cigarette being held by the German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm II. When World War I broke out, she wrote to him and requested a second shot.

33. Florence Nightingale was a pioneer of applied statistics, and she used her meticulous records of death rates and poor conditions in barracks to persuade the government to improve army hygiene.

34. A nurse named Sally Tompkins became the first woman to be commissioned as an officer in any form of the United States army. She was commissioned as a captain in 1861. Under her supervision, she had the lowest death rate of any hospital, Union or Confederate.

35. Harriet Quimby was the first woman to fly across the English Channel on April 16th, 1912, but she barely received any media attention because of the Titanic Disaster, which occurred the day before and consumed the interest of the public.

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36Carolina Beatriz Ângelo

Carolina Beatriz Ângelo was the first Portuguese woman to vote. In 1911, the Portuguese law stated that only literate, head-of-household people had the right to vote. Being a widow with a child, she claimed the right to do so, as the law didn't specify any genders. It was accepted.

37. Margaret Chase Smith was the first woman to serve in both the House and the Senate. She was also the first woman to have her name be on the nomination at either major party's convention in 1964.

38. Maria Mitchell was the first female professional astronomer (born 1 August 1818) who discovered a comet & was awarded a medal by the King of Denmark. The inscription read: "Not in vain do we watch the setting and rising of the stars".

39. Junko Tabei was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, and she also became the first woman to ascend all the Seven Summits by climbing the highest peak on every continent.

40. In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler became the first African-American woman to become a physician in the United States. After the American Civil War ended in 1864 she moved from Boston to Virginia to provide medical care to freed slaves.

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41Katherine Johnson

African-American physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard’s first space flight by hand. When NASA used computers for the first time to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, officials called on Johnson to verify its numbers.

42. Wilma Mankiller was the first female Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As the Cherokee Nation's first female chief, she transformed the nation-to-nation relationship between the Cherokee Nation and the federal government and served as an inspiration to women in Indian Country and across America.

43. Aretha Franklin holds the record for winning the most consecutive Grammys in the same category. She won the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance every year from 1968 to 1975, for an eight-year winning streak. She also won in 1982, 1986, and 1988, giving her 11 wins in the category. In 1987, she also became the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

44. Ada Lovelace who wrote the first algorithm for a computing machine and first saw the potential in computers was the daughter of Lord Byron. The “source code” of the world’s first computer algorithm written by her, also contained the world’s first “bug”: in the fourth operation, the variables were printed as v5 / v4, when the correct order should be v4 / v5.

45. James Bond’s Miss Moneypenny has a real-life role model. Fleming used Vera Atkins, who recruited, trained, and watched over the legendary British secret agents who parachuted into France to sabotage the Nazis in World War II as an inspiration.

46Grace Hopper

The originator of the popular saying, “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission” was Grace Hopper, a United States Navy Rear Admiral and pioneer of computer programming who popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL.

47. About 20 years before the first woman was democratically elected in 1980 as president of a country (Iceland), stateswoman Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) was elected as prime minister, when she led her party to victory at the 1960 general election. She became the first woman in modern history to become a non-hereditary head of a government.

48. Sarah Breedlove was an orphan born to freed slaves and went on to become the 1st self-made female millionaire in US history around early 1900s by inventing & selling homemade hair-care products through her own factory. She even built a beauty school to train sales agents.

49. Wilma Rudolph had polio as an infant and was unable to walk properly until she was 11. For several years, her family had to massage her legs four times a day, and she had to wear a metal brace. In 1960, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals in an Olympic event.

50. In 1977, Shakuntala Devi, who was also known as the ‘human computer’, gave the 23rd root of a 201 digit number in 50 seconds. The answer (546,372,891) was verified at the US Bureau of Standards by the UNIVAC 1101 computer, for which a special program had to be written to perform such a large calculation. Such a high-powered and sophisticated computer took 62 seconds to calculate the result.


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