15 Influential Women You Need To Know

  1. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was a painter in the 1900’s of Mexico, known for her set of self portraits. Born in Coyoacan, she suffered a terrible injury at age 17 and thus became interested in painting as part of her recovery, along with her feminist writings. Challenging stereotypes and breaking the norm for the gender role of women in her society, Frida is known all over the world for being a leader for women to be themselves and express themselves unashamedly.

 

  2.  Emily Dickinson

was an American poet in the 1800s whose poetry was considered quite unconventional at the time. Less than a dozen of her poems were ever published during her lifetime, and those that were published were usually edited to make them fit the poetry norms of the day. Now, she is considered one of the greatest poets in American history.

 

   3.Elizabeth Cochran Seaman

Born in 1864, was also known as Nellie Bly became a pioneer of muckraking journalism under Joseph Pulitzer, sailed around the world in 72 days, and posed as a madwoman for a book expose. Seaman used journalism to expose social injustice and to write wrong. She took on the patriarchy, corrupt government, and redefined what it meant to be a woman.

 

   4.Misty Copeland

An American ballet dancer for the prestigious dance company American Ballet Theatre. She became the first African American woman to be promoted to principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre’s history back in 2015. Misty Copeland is an example to young girls due to the fact that she started ballet at the age of 13, which is considered “late” in the ballet world. This goes to show that it’s never too late to reach your goals and dreams.  

 

    5.Sojourner Truth

Sojourner was born into slavery with the name Isabella Baumfree. She changed her name after escaping from her owner and became a Christian preacher while living with a family in New York. After the state’s Emancipation Act was passed, she became a vehement and vocal supporter of abolition and women’s rights. She traveled the country giving speeches, including a famous one entitled Ain’t I a Woman? that emphasized the strength and power of women and the need for equality between the sexes.

 

    6.Harriet Tubman

Like Sojourner, Harriet was born into slavery and found a means of escape with the help of her abolitionist neighbors. In 1849, she fled her slave life in Maryland and found respite in Philadelphia. There she formulated a plan to liberate the rest of her family by way of the Underground Railroad, a system that involved moving slaves from one safe house to another under rigid secrecy. She was able to free her family and numerous other slaves throughout the years, taking them as far as Canada and helping them find safe jobs. Later, she worked as a nurse during the Civil War and was a proponent of both women’s suffrage and the abolitionist movement.

     7. Maya Angelou

Before she was celebrated for her poems and autobiographical texts like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya was a nightclub singer and dancer who toured Europe. She settled in New York and became part of the burgeoning black writing scene in Harlem. After moving to Ghana to teach at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, she met Malcolm X and collaborated with him on bringing equality and unity to America. She returned to the U.S. and was involved with the Civil Rights Movement, working closely with Martin Luther King Jr. She continues to inspire others and promote change through her writing and public speaking.

 

    8. Oprah Winfrey

Early in her career, Oprah was the protégée of Maya Angelou; they are open about their close bond, likening it in one article to a “sister-mother-daughter-friendship.” Now Oprah is one of the richest and most powerful people in America. Her vast influence on the women in this country is remarkable and a testament to the strength and kindness of her character. She uses her resources and celebrity to enact positive change in communities worldwide, such as fostering literacy through her book club, building a school in Africa, encouraging others to perform good deeds, and campaigning tirelessly for Obama.

 

   9. Mae Jemison

A physician who volunteered with the Peace Corps and the first female African American astronaut, Mae was also the first black woman to go into space. After her 1992 expedition on the Endeavor shuttle, she left NASA and founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence (which sponsors science camps for kids), as well as companies involved in scientific and technological research. Currently, she is a professor at Cornell University and strongly involved in the science community.  

    10.Marie Curie

 The first woman to win a Nobel Prize in two areas (she shared one with husband Pierre, who died in a tragic accident), Curie codiscovered two elements, radium and polonium, and coined the term "radioactivity." She was one of the first to suggest using radiation to treat cancer. Curie helped usher in the atomic age and revolutionize chemistry, physics, and medicine — while fighting deep prejudice against women in the sciences.

 

     11.Marian Anderson

In 1939, the DAR refused to let Anderson sing in DC's Constitution Hall because she was black. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR, and her husband's administration arranged an outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 and millions of radio listeners. Anderson was the first African American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera, and in 1958 became a delegate to the United Nations.  

     12.Wendy Kopp

It was her senior thesis at Princeton — a plan to create a corps of desperately needed teachers for schools in low-income neighborhoods. Twenty years later, Teach for America has trained more than 24,000 teachers and reached three million students. We praise Kopp for reminding us that one woman can make a huge difference in the world.  

    13. Evan Rachel Wood

An American actress most known for her roles in Across the Universe, Thirteen and True Blood. She is one of the few celebrities who is openly bisexual and discusses bisexuality and the LGBT community at lengths on social media, making society more aware and informed. To bisexual people everywhere (especially girls), she empowers them to be open and unashamed in their sexuality.

 

      14. Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai is only 19 years old, but her name is known for worldwide for being a fierce women’s right activist, especially for women’s education. Born in Pakistan, at the age of 11 she began to write of her struggles of getting education for BBC. After her name became known, a Taliban member shot her in the head on the way home from school. She recovered and is now living in England, still fighting for the rights of women to go to school.

 

      15.Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft was a writer in the late 1700’s, overcoming physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. A brilliant writer, Mary wrote “The Vindications of the Rights of Woman” in 1792 and is considered one of the first examples of feminist philosophy. Faced immediate backlash for the document and was restricted from being printed until after her death, but it greatly influenced society. Mary is also the mother of Mary Shelley, the writer of Frankenstein.