There was a moment during a Republican primary debate in 2015 in which the eleven candidates were all asked to name a historically important American woman who might be put on the $10 bill.
Most either cited Rosa Parks, a female relative of theirs, or a woman who was not American. Who did that? Jeb Bush said Margaret Thatcher. What?
Carly Fiorina, the only woman on the stage, didn’t give any answer at all.
So, who are some historical ladies we should know about?
Let’s find out.
1. Anna Connelly
Invented the fire escape in 1887.
That same year, Josephine Cochrane invented the dishwasher.
2. Marie Tharp
She created the first map of the ocean floor, which led to the discovery of tectonic plates, and the theory of continental drift.
3. Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones
Dr. Jones singlehandedly organized the field of Gynecological Endocrinology. While at John’s Hopkins with her husband, Dr. Howard Jones and Drs. Roberts and Steptoe, she devised the hypothesis of follicular hyper stimulation, which produced more than one egg per cycle. Her later discoveries led to increases in viability of In Vitro Fertilization.
Per Wikipedia : As a resident at Johns Hopkins, she discovered that the pregnancy hormone hCG was manufactured by the placenta, not the pituitary gland as originally thought. This discovery led to the development of many of the early over-the-counter pregnancy test kits currently available. On 1949, Jones made the first description of Luteal Phase Dysfunction and is credited to be the first in using progesterone to treat women with a history of miscarriages, thus allowing many of them to not only conceive, but to deliver healthy babies
She also served as a Dean of the College of Pontifical Sciences, advising the Vatican of matters of Gynecology and Conception.
Her husband always said “She’s the smarter one.”
She was also a great friend.
4. Carol Kaye
The First Lady of bass playing. She played over 10,000 sessions, including albums from Frank Sinatra, Beach Boys, Stevie Wonder, and the Monkees.
I can thank the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and the subreddit for educating me about her.
5. Sandra Ford
The drug technician who first brought attention to what would become the AIDS epidemic. She knew something was up when she began receiving unusually high numbers of requests for pentamidine, an antibiotic reserved for treating pneumocystis pneumonia in seriously ill, immuno-compromised patients.
The patients it was being requested for were gay men who had been otherwise healthy.
6. Bessie Coleman
She was a black woman who wanted to learn to fly. No one would teach her.
She learned that the French would however, so she moved to France, learned French and how to fly.
Then she came back to the states and taught whoever wanted to learn.
She was alive same time as Amelia Earhart and got no recognition at the time.
7. Cecilia Payne
Discovered what universe is made out of… And don’t even get a mention in textbooks
8. Daphne Oram
First ever composer to produce electronic sound. She pioneered electronic music and lead the path for music today. She even wrote a piece called “Still Point” that she was never able to perform live because of sexism by her peers and she never heard it live before she died.
But it was performed for the first time in 2018 using a replica of a machine Daphne had created to electronically manipulate a live orchestra.
9. Belva Lockwood
One of the first female lawyers in the US and ran for president in the 1880s.
10. Henrietta Leavitt
She was an astronomer at Harvard and discovered a type of star called a Cepheid.
Cepheid stars all pulse at the same rate. That lets us know how far away they are. Because of her, we were able to determine how big the universe is along with many, many more things concerning its properties.
11. Simone de Beauvoir
A French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist.
Though she did not consider herself a philosopher, she had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory. (excerpt from Wikipedia)
12. Eleanor Marx
Maybe overlooked because of her dad. She played an important role in British Trade Unions which forced the move from a 12 hour working day 6 days a week to an 8 hour day 5 days a weekend.
Those extra hours to go on a walk, play Xbox, learn something new or just chill is a pretty big contribution.
13. Henrietta Lacks
She saved millions of lives and made a critical contribution to the world of medicine, but unless you’re in the medical field — you’ve probably never even heard her name.
Henrietta Lacks was a young, black, mother of five when she died in 1951 after being diagnosed with an aggressive cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins. Doctor George Gey was working at Hopkins at the time, trying to culture cells in the laboratory. Lacks’ cells were among dozens sent to his lab, but they were the first to ever survive and grow. Her cells, a unique and aggressive type, were later described as one in three billion.
Scientists called these resilient cells “HeLa” — taking first two letters of “Henrietta” and “Lacks.” HeLa cells were used to test the polio vaccine, develop in vitro fertilization, and several chemotherapy drugs among hundreds of medical advances.
Grown and sold around the world, Lacks’ legacy lived on in her cells: they have traveled to space, they have been embedded in a nuclear bomb. But for decades, the Lacks family had no idea.
14. Frances Perkins
She was the first female cabinet member in the US.
She was appointed by FDR and played a key role in the new deal as well as working for better working conditions, child labor laws and women’s rights.
15. Agent 355
We still don’t know her true identity to this day, but that was the code name of one of the first American spies. Some historians dispute whether it was an actual person or just code for when a woman presented useful information. If that’s the case then Agent 355 could be multiple women that had a huge influence on history during the birth of America.
Looks like I’ve got some new reading lists to dive into!
Who else would you add to this list?
Tell us in the comments.