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Amazing Female Leaders That History Books Forgot
Many incredible women are renowned for their achievements, and their memory has been cemented in history. From Cleopatra to Evita and Marie Curie to Eleanor Roosevelt, the world recognised these incredible women, their knowledge and their accomplishments.
While numerous phenomenal female pioneers are household names, there are a range of inspiring women who accomplished incredible achievements and are today often overlooked. This infographic showcases the determination of incredible women who changed the world and are today mostly forgotten.
Among the numerous inspirational ladies illustrated in this infographic are Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States. While taking her studies Dr. Blackwell was requested to leave lectures on human reproduction in order to protect her “fragile sensibilities”.
Lillian Bland designed, assembled and flew a plane in 1910-11, being one of the first ladies on the planet to do so. While Sojourner Truth escaped a life of slavery and became a prominent abolitionist. Her stirring address at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851 entitled “Ain’t I a Woman?” strengthened support for the abolition of slavery and also women’s rights.
‘The Tale of Genji’ is generally thought to be the first novel in mankind’s history, and was composed by a remarkable woman Murasaki Shikibu. While Shikibu is the best known author from Japan’s Heian period her father applauded her knowledge and wished she hadn’t been ‘born a woman’.
Overcoming incredible hardships while simultaneously fighting gender (and often racial) prejudice these incredible women achieved great success and changed the world. This infographic from the highlights ‘The Most Amazing Female Leaders that History Books Forgot’.
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The Most Amazing Female Leaders That History Books Forgot
While many extraordinary female leaders are household names, this selection of incredible women are not as well known. Discover the incredible women who changed the world and are often forgotten.
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell
Lived: 1821 – 1910
Crowning Achievement: Dr. Blackwell was the first female MD in the United States, along with colleagues she also founded the New York Infirmary for Women and Children.
- Elizabeth Blackwell turned to medicine after a close friend who was dying suggested she would have spared her worst suffering if her physician had been a woman.
- She was told to leave the room for lectures on reproductive anatomy in order to protect her “delicate sensibilities”.
Lived: 1797 – 1883
Field: Abolitionist and Women’s Rights
Crowning Achievement: Delivered extemporaneous speech on racial inequalities, “Ain’t I a Woman?” at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in 1851.
- Sojourner Truth was born into slavery and escaped to freedom. Her prominence quickly rose when she advocated for the abolition of slavery and women’s rights.
- She published her memoirs in 1850 under the title ‘The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave’.
Lived: 1878 – 1971
Field: Aviation and Journalism
Crowning Achievement: In 1910-11, Bland became one of the first women in the world to design, build, and fly an aircraft.
- Lilian Bland named her plane the Mayfly as in “may fly, may not fly“, which had a fuel tank fashioned from an empty whisky bottle and her aunt’s ear trumpet.
- Bland was a photographer, markswoman, martial artist, sports journalist, wearer of dungarees, and a smoker – and no stranger to raising the eyebrows of those around her.
Lived: 1864 – 1922
Field: Investigative Journalism
Crowning Achievement: Bly went undercover as a patient in the notorious asylum on Blackwell’s Island and reported first-hand on her experience. She also travelled around the world in a record-breaking 72 days.
- By eschewed traditional ‘women’s topics’ like gardening and fashion for hard pressing stories on the poor and oppressed.
- Nellie’s articles “Behind Asylum Bars” and “Inside the Mad-House” created an uproar in New York, launched investigations and spurred New York officials to provide more money for care for the people at the asylum.
Anna Nzinga Mbandi
Lived: 1583 – 1663
Crowning Achievement: As Queen of Ndongo and Matamba (modern day Angola) she governed with skill and held off Portuguese colonialism.
- She ruthlessly took power when her brother Ngola Mbandi died in 1624, and gained international acclaim for her brilliance in diplomacy and military tactics.
- Mbandi’s skill in warfare, espionage, trade, alliance-building, and religious matters helped her hold off Portuguese colonialism for the duration of her life.
Annie Smith Peck
Lived: 1850 – 1935
Field: Mountaineering & Exploration
Crowning Achievement: Peck set the record for the highest climb in the Western Hemisphere at the age of 58.
- Peck climbed Matterhorn in 1985 which brought her instant fame – not because of her climb but because she wore trousers to scale the peak instead of a long skirt.
- She was a trailblazing scholar, writer, and athlete who set records as a mountain climber in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Mary Lou Williams
Lived: 1910 – 1981
Crowning Achievement: Williams found her own label, Mary Records, which was the first to be started by a woman.
- Pianist, arranger, and composer, Mary Lou Williams had a career that started in the 1920s and spanned decades.
- She wrote hundreds of compositions and arrangements, and recorded more than one hundred records.
Beatrice Potter Webb
Lived: 1858 – 1943
Field: Social Reform & Economics
Crowning Achievement: Co-founder of the London School of Economics and Political Science.
- In 1913 in London, along with her husband, Beatrice created the New Statesman, which was an “influential periodical”.
- Potter was involved with the Poor Law Commission which measured urban poverty and served as a guide to reform legislation.
Lived: 973 – 1025 (approx.)
Field: Poetry and Writing
Crowning Achievement: She wrote ‘The Tale of Genji’ in 1008 (approx.) which is widely considered to be the earliest novel in human history.
- Murasaki Shikibu is the best known writer to emerge from Japan’s glorious Heian period and many historians argue that Murasaki is the world’s first modern novelist.
- Her father praised her intelligence and ability, but lamented that she was “born a woman“.
Ethel L. Payne
Lived: 1911 – 1991
Crowning Achievement: Payne was one of three accredited African Americans in the White House press corps.
- Payne was an investigative journalist who covered the American Civil Rights Movement, the White House, and international affairs.
- Regarded as the ‘first lady of the black press,’ she was known for asking the tough questions that other journalists feared to ask.
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