In four short weeks, I can’t begin to honor all the women who should be honored during Women’s History Month. But I’m fascinated to learn about women who’ve dared to be different or make a difference. Here are 30 amazing women you never heard of–at least not in school:
Trưng Trắc and Trưng Nhị
1 – 43
Chose 36 women to be generals and successfully drove the Chinese out in 40 A.D. Trắc became queen, abolishing tribute taxes and attempted to revert back to a simpler government.
Hypatia of Alexandria
355 – 415
An unwed Pagan woman who taught astronomy and mathematics from her home and was a philosopher of the Neoplatonic school.
800 – 880
Kairouan, Abbasid Caliphate (Moracco)
Founded the world’s oldest continually operating, degree-granting university, the University of Al Qarawiyyin.
A legendary 12th century samurai warrior noted for being a skilled archer, often referred to as a “warrior worth a thousand.”
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
Credited as the first published feminist of the New World.
1761 – 1839
Riding twice the distance, perhaps she should have been remembered in poem and song instead of Paul Revere.
1844 – 1907
African-American / Chippewa sculptor, who specialized in portrait busts of abolitionists and patrons.
1815 – 1852
Daughter of the poet Lord Byron who grew up to be the world’s first computer programmer.
Mary Edwards Walker
1832 – 1919
First female physician in the U.S. Army and the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor.
Ashanti Empire (now part of Ghana)
Warrior queen who also happened to be a 60 year old grandmother when she began fighting British Colonialism.
First documented African-American woman to enlist and serve in the U.S. Army (disguised as a man).
A women’s rights activist in New Zealand who eventually led New Zealand to be the first country that gave women the right to vote.
Elected first female U.S. Mayor (Yay, Kansas!)
The first woman elected to an Australian Parliament.
Ida B. Wells
1862 – 1931
The first African-American journalist.
Harriet Chalmers Adams
1875 – 1937
An American writer, explorer, and photographer.
1877 – 1931
America’s first woman sheriff.
Founded Egypt’s first female-run philanthropic society, which offered services for impoverished women and children. Her most impactful event was in Cairo when she removed her veil in public.
Recognized as the world’s first female engineer.
1892 – 1926
The first black woman to earn her pilot’s license,
Invented non-glare glass as the first female engineer at General Electric’s research laboratory.
1900 – 1979
The first astronomer to discover that stars are made primarily of hydrogen and helium.
Called “The Limping Lady” due to her wooden leg she worked behind German lines for more than 30 years and was considered the “most dangerous of all allied spies” by the Germans.
1910 – 2008
NASA’s first black manager.
Helped the Little Rock Nine—the nine black students she recruited to enroll at Central High School—enter their new school safely, despite being blocked by the Arkansas National Guard.
Nicknamed “Lady Death,” she is the most successful female sniper in human history with 309 confirmed kills in WWII.
Rose Marie McCoy
1922 – 2015
Wrote and/or collaborated on more than 850 songs for stars such as Big Maybelle, James Brown, Ruth Brown, Nat King Cole, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Mathis, Bette Midler, Elvis Presley, and Ike and Tina Turner.
At the 1948 London Olympics, won the high jump for the United States, becoming the first black woman to win an Olympic Gold medal.
Chemist who invented Kevlar, the material used in most bulletproof vests and body armor.
Women have been accomplishing firsts since time began and are often overlooked by history. Fortunately, the internet makes a lot of these women’s history more available to all of us. I hope you enjoyed this list of 30 amazing women you’ve never heard of. Or had you heard of one or two?