Inspirational Women in History: 40 Facts About The Most Fearless Women In History

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1Dr. Jane Goodall

Dr. Jane Goodall

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.

2. 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

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

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6Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin

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."

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.

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11Bobbi Gibb

Bobbi Gibb

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.

12. 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”.

13. 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.

14. 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.”

15. 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?"

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16Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin

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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson

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

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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.


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