3 Badass Women Your History Books Never Covered

It often seems like history classes and books only really care about someone if they were some combination of male, white, and powerful (preferably all three). However, funnily enough, men were not and still are not the only people making contributions to the world. Go figure! The world of incredible historic women is vast - more so than you might think. I would highly recommend diving in sometime, but to give you a small taste, here are three inspirational badass women your history books never covered.


Ada Lovelace

Born in 1815, Ada Byron (Countess of Lovelace) was the founder of scientific computing. Her mother, who had been scorned by a poet (Ada’s father) arranged private tutoring in mathematics for Ada to “counter dangerous poetic tendencies.” Little did she know, that her daughter would one day be referenced as the first computer programmer and the first to fully see the “full potential of a computing machine.”

Her legacy is celebrated on the second Tuesday of October, Ada Lovelace Day, by honoring women in STEM fields internationally.


Dr. Mary Edwards Walker

The first woman to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, Dr. Mary Walker was awarded for her work as a surgeon during the civil war. She earned her medicine degree in 1855 and worked as a nurse, assistant surgeon, and surgeon in the war effort between 1862-1864. She received the award in 1865, however, in 1917 her name was removed due to a reappraisal of the terms of eligibility. An outspoken feminist her entire life, Walker refused to give up the medal and she continued to wear it proudly for the rest of her life. Campaigning by her family officially put her name back on the award in 1977.

Irena Sendler

Born in 1910, Irena Sendler (born Irena Krzyżanowska) smuggled over 2500 Jewish children and infants out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a Polish social worker, Sendler was able to enter and leave the Warsaw Ghetto and began getting children out in 1940. She and her helpers ran a detailed operation for three years until Sendler was arrested in 1943. She was questioned and tortured by the Germans who eventually set her execution date. Her underground organization was able to bribe the executioner and she escaped while the Germans loudly publicized her “death.”

She wrote the name of every child she rescued on pieces of tissue paper which she kept in a jar buried in her backyard. Following the war, she dug up the jar and attempted to track down the families of the children she saved. Most of them had been killed in the Treblinka death camp. Her courageous acts inspired Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, a play written in 1999 cataloguing her life. In 2007, she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize but it was awarded to Al Gore for “a slideshow on global warming.” Irena Sendler passed away in 2008 and on the ten-year anniversary of her death, the Polish Parliament declared 2018 the “Year of Irena Sendler.”

While most women’s history has either been overlooked or watered down, there’s so much to learn if you’re willing to dig a little. If you’re looking to keep exploring, check out these sites for more lists of amazing women and their accomplishments:

Scholastic: Women Who Changed History

The Archive: 15 Important Women in History You May Not Have Heard Of

Biography: Women’s History


Image Sources: 1, 2, 3