I grew up believing that women had contributed nothing to the world until the 1960′s. So once I became a feminist I started collecting information on women in history, and here’s my collection so far, in no particular order.
Lepa Svetozara Radić (1925–1943) was a partisan executed at the age of 17 for shooting at German soldiers during WW2. As her captors tied the noose around her neck, they offered her a way out of the gallows by revealing her comrades and leaders identities. She responded that she was not a traitor to her people and they would reveal themselves when they avenged her death. She was the youngest winner of the Order of the People’s Hero of Yugoslavia, awarded in 1951
23 year old Phyllis Latour Doyle was British spy who parachuted into occupied Normandy in 1944 on a reconnaissance mission in preparation for D-day. She relayed 135 secret messages before France was finally liberated.
Catherine Leroy, War Photographer starting with the Vietnam war. She was taken a prisoner of war. When released she continued to be a war photographer until her death in 2006.
Lieutenant Pavlichenko was a Ukrainian sniper in WWII, with a total of 309 kills, including 36 enemy snipers. After being wounded, she toured the US to promote friendship between the two countries, and was called ‘fat’ by one of her interviewers, which she found rather amusing.
Johanna Hannie “Jannetje” Schaft was born in Haarlem. She studied in Amsterdam had many Jewish friends. During WWII she aided many people who were hiding from the Germans and began working in resistance movements. She helped to assassinate two nazis. She was later captured and executed. Her last words were “I shoot better than you.”.
Nancy wake was a resistance spy in WWII, and was so hated by the Germans that at one point she was their most wanted person with a price of 5 million francs on her head. During one of her missions, while parachuting into occupied France, her parachute became tangled in a tree. A french agent commented that he wished that all trees would bear such beautiful fruit, to which she replied “Don’t give me any of that French shit!”, and later that evening she killed a German sentry with her bare hands.
After her husband was killed in WWII, Violette Szabo began working for the resistance. In her work, she helped to sabotage a railroad and passed along secret information. She was captured and executed at a concentration camp at age 23.
Grace Hopper was a computer scientist who invented the first ever compiler. Her invention makes every single computer program you use possible.
Mona Louise Parsons was a member of an informal resistance group in the Netherlands during WWII. After her resistance network was infiltrated, she was captured and was the first Canadian woman to be imprisoned by the Nazis. She was originally sentenced to death by firing squad, but the sentence was lowered to hard lard labor in a prison camp. She escaped.
Simone Segouin was a Parisian rebel who killed an unknown number of Germans and captured 25 with the aid of her submachine gun. She was present at the liberation of Paris and was later awarded the ‘croix de guerre’.
Mary Edwards Walker is the only woman to have ever won an American Medal of Honor. She earned it for her work as a surgeon during the Civil War. It was revoked in 1917, but she wore it until hear death two years later. It was restored posthumously.
Italian neuroscientist won a Nobel Prize for her discovery of nerve growth factor. She died aged 103.
jinxedinks added: Her name was Rita Levi-Montalcini. She was jewish, and so from 1938 until the end of the fascist regime in Italy she was forbidden from working at university. She set up a makeshift lab in her bedroom and continued with her research throughout the war.
A snapshot of the women of color in the woman’s army corps on Staten Island
This is an ongoing project of mine, and I’ll update this as much as I can (It’s not all WWII stuff, I’ve got separate folders for separate achievements).
File this under: The History I Wish I’d Been Taught As A Little Girl
Annie Jump Cannon was an american astronomer and, in addition to possibly having one of the best names in history, was co-creator of one of the first scientific classification systems of stars, based on temperature.
Melba Roy Moutan was a Harvard educated mathematician who led a team of mathematicians at NASA, nicknamed ‘Computers’ for their number processing prowess.
Joyce Jacobson Kaufman was a chemist who developed the concept of conformational topology, and studied at Johns Hopkins University before it officially allowed women entry in 1970.
Vera Rubin is an astronomer and has co-authored 114 peer reviewed papers. She specializes in the study of dark matter and galaxy rotation rates.
Mary Sherman Morgan was a rocket scientist who invented hydyne, a liquid fuel that powered the USA’s Jupiter C-rocket.
Chien-Siung Wu was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, as well as experimental radioactive studies. She was the first woman to become president of the American Physical Society.
Mildred Catherine Rebstock was the first person to synthesize the antibiotic chloromycetin.
Ruby Hirose was a chemist who conducted vital research about an infant paralysis vaccine.
Hattie Elizabeth Alexander was a pediatrician and microbiologist who developed a remedy for Haemophilus influenzae, and conducted vital research on antibiotic resistance.
Marie Tharp was a scientist who mapped the floor of the Atlantic Ocean and provided proof of continental drift.
Mae Jamison is an astronaut who holds a degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University and was the first black woman in space.
Ada Lovelace was a mathematician and considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.
Patricia E Bath is ophthalmologist and the inventor of the Laserphaco Probe, which is used to treat cataracts.
Barbara McClintock won a Nobel prize for her discovery that genes could move in and between chromosomes.
That’s it for now, part three will be on its way. (Josephine Baker was requested in the first installment, just know I did not forget her! She’s in a different folder, titled ‘famous people you didn’t know were complete badasses, and she, along with Hedy Lamar and Audrey Hepburn will be in the next installment 🙂 )
Josephine Baker, though today remembered for her dancing, singing, and larger than life personality, actually played a significant role in WWII. She joined Women’s Auxiliary of the Free French Air Force, got her pilot’s license in 1933, and by 1944 she raised 3,143,000 francs for the war effort. She entertained the troops, which was a doubly whammy of justice. She refused to entertain segregated troops, so the French military was forced to integrate the troops for all her performances. She also smuggled secret messages in her music across countless borders.
Audrey Hepburn is known as one of the most beautiful and talent actresses of the 1950′s, but her contributions to the world started far before her first film and continued until well after her cinematic heyday. In WWII stricken Austria, Audrey, then an aspiring ballerina, would give secret ballet performances to raise money for the Austrian resistance. She even helped smuggle secret messages for the resistance. On one such occasion, she was stopped by an enemy soldier. He asked her what she was doing and she, pretending not to understand, presented him with a bouquet of wildflowers she’d been absentmindedly picking. She was let go and the message was delivered safely. It was her experience in the war which would later prompt her to become one of the founders of UNICEF.
Hedy Lamarr was an actress well known for her piercing gaze and deadpan wit. What she’s less known for is being a brilliant mathematician who invented the frequency hopping spread spectrum. Without her invention, we wouldn’t have bluetooth or wifi.
Ching Shih was one of the world’s most successful pirates. At the death of her (pirate) husband, the former prostitute took command of his ships and started her pirating career. At the height of her career she commanded 1800 ships and more than 80,000 male and female pirates. She became powerful enough to challenge every empire’s naval forces in the world and her Red Flag Fleet was feared from the Chinese coast to Malaysia. Unable to defeat her, the Chinese government caved and offered her amnesty. She surprised everyone by taking it and became one of the few pirates in history to retire. She also took care of her crew even after her retirement; most of Ching’s pirates were pardoned. She died a respectable millionaire.
Sophie School was an active member of the White Rose non-violent resistance group in WWII Germany. In 1943 she, along with her brother and the rest of the White Rose were arrested for passing out leaflets encouraging passive resistance. She and her brother were beheaded by guillotine just a few hours later. Her last words were “How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us, thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?”
(Written by Emporer-of-nerds) Constance Markievicz (was a) Very important figure in the Irish independence movement, first woman elected to the British House of Commons, and one of the first women to hold a cabinet position in government (Minister for Labour of the Irish Republic (which was a short-lived revolutionary state predating the current Ireland/Éire))!
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was an English ambassador to Turkey in the early 1700s, and documented her experience carefully. When she saw the Turkish perform an early method of small-pox vaccination, she urgently wrote home. She is responsible for the first variolation small-pox vaccinations in Europe.
Marie Curie is fairly well known. Unfortunately she’s often known as the ‘assistant’ to her husband. She was a pioneering physicist and chemist, who’s work with radiation was groundbreaking. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize and the only one to win one in two fields for her discovery of polonium and uranium. It’s also notable that she was the first woman in Europe to receive a doctorate degree. Her discoveries made the x-ray machine possible, and Curie immediately put it to work. She invented a small, mobile type of x-ray machine and worked with her daughter at casualty collection points in WWI, using the machine to locate shrapnel and bullets in wounded soldiers. She died of pernicious anemia, a result of years of radioactive exposure. Many of her notebooks are still too radioactive to be read.
Margherita Hack was an Italian astrophysicist and became administrator of the Trieste Astronomical Observatory, bringing it to renowned respect and fame. She was a prolific science writer and was awarded the Targa Giuseppe Piazzi for the scientific research, and later the Cortina Ulisse Prize for scientific dissemination. Asteroid 8558 Hack, discovered in 1995, was named in her honor.
(This installment was a little all over the place as far as achievements go, and short, since it was mostly requests! Hypatia of Alexandria was also requested but she, along with Sappho and others, are getting their own installment. The next installment will center around women of the literary world!)
Great respect for this!
Note that there were many many more, both before and after photography was invented.
Don’t ever let some fuckboy tell you that women just cleaned and cooked until very recently.