10 Role Models for Women Around the World to Look Up To
Imagine how different our lives would be without the relentless work of brave people who dedicated their lives to making the world a better place. Women who defied society’s standards to advocate for the rights of their peers, who made essential contributions to science for us to be able to use a computer, or those who wanted to put an end to the unfair suffering of others.
We at Bright Side were astonished to find so many fine examples of women who challenged the odds and became true heroes. So we have collected some of the most notorious examples of revolutionary women in history.
Kei Okami, Sabat M. Islambouli, and Anandibai Joshee — medicine
First women in their country—India, Japan, and Syria—to obtain a medical degree in Western medicine.
Kei Okami was the first Japanese woman to obtain a degree in Western medicine at the age of 30. After finishing her studies in the US and returning to her home country, she devoted the rest of her life to her profession.
Her first work experience was at the Jikei Hospital and she later opened a practice in her home. This relentless role model for many women in those days, later went on to open a small hospital for sick women and established a nursing school.
Anandibai Joshee was born in India in 1865. The loss of her 10-day-old baby drove her to pursue a career in medicine. After attending medical school in the US, she returned to India and was appointed as the physician-in-charge of the female ward at the local Albert Edward Hospital.
Born to a Kurdish-Jewish family, Sabat M. Islambouli was strong-willed enough to move to the US and attend the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She graduated in 1890, becoming one of the first female physicians from Syria.
Ada Lovelace — programming
Daughter of the notorious poet Lord Byron, Ada made her own contribution to her family’s legacy. The gifted mathematician was a visionary who recognized that computers could do much more than just calculations.
She took part in writing an article about a mechanical general-purpose computer. She also developed a process known as looping which is still used by computer programs nowadays. Hence, she earned the title of the “first computer programmer.”
Susan B. Anthony — women’s rights advocacy
Advocate for women’s rights, Susan B. Anthony, defied what people thought was proper for women to do in those days. Together with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the 2 friends formed the National Woman Suffrage Association to give women the right to vote.
Not even getting arrested for voting in 1872 slowed her down. She spent her entire life traveling across the US, giving speeches and collecting signatures to push for a constitutional amendment on women’s rights to vote.
Rosalind Franklin — chemistry
Rosalind was a tireless investigator of nature’s secrets. This British scientist, born in 1920, made a crucial contribution in unraveling the structure of DNA and, thus, unlocking the mystery of how life is passed down from generation to generation.
However, she didn’t get the credit she deserved at that time and became known as the “Dark Lady of DNA.” Her unpublished work was later used by Watson and Crick, who created their famous DNA model. It’s high time we give her the credit she deserves and reappraise her legacy as a pioneering chemist.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley — literature
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley earned the title ’mother of science fiction’ for conceiving the idea of a novel about ’The Modern Prometheus,’ which was titled Frankenstein. Writing this novel started as a fun challenge among friends to write ghost stories.
Inspired by the inclement weather of Switzerland, where she was spending the summer of 1816, Mary went on to write one of the most popular Gothic tales of all time. Though Shelley’s best known for her novel Frankenstein, she actually had a whole array of skills. She was also a skilled editor and critic, an influential travel writer, a historian, and a devoted mother.
Mary Cassatt — art
American painter, Mary Cassatt, did not let her father stop her in her pursuit of an art career. She managed to convince him and moved to France, where she joined the Impressionist movement, becoming one of the first female artists to do so.
Unlike many impressionists, she mostly painted portraits of women and children doing domestic chores, showing that real and unromanticized aspect of their lives.
Hedwig Dohm — women’s suffrage
Way ahead of her time, Hedwig Dohm was one of the first women to speak out about gender roles. The German feminist considered that these roles were the result of socialization and not a biological factor. She fervently criticized the social and political inequalities in relationships in terms of gender.
Dohm grew up in an environment where education was no place for a woman. She was meant to stay at home to take care of her siblings but, upon witnessing a tumultuous clash between government forces and revolutionaries, she decided to escape her oppressive home and dedicated her life to writing feminist treatises in favor of women’s suffrage.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe — music
The flamboyant artist, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, knew from an early age that music was her destiny. She began performing at the age of 4, combining a mix of gospel and secular music styles. What made her stand out was the brilliance with which she played the guitar—it seemed to be an extension of herself.
She gained popularity in the 1930s and 1940s, and would later become known as “the Godmother of rock and roll.” This spirited artist had a peculiar guitar technique that influenced many well-known musicians like Aretha Franklin and Chuck Berry.
Which other examples of groundbreaking historical characters can you think of? Share with us the most inspiring ones.
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