Category: women in education

Nina Bang (1866-1928)
was a Danish politician and historian. She was appointed Minister of Education
in 1924, becoming the first female minister in an internationally recognized government.

She studied history at the University of
Copenhagen and was one of the first Danish women to obtain a degree. She was
the only woman on the executive committee of the Social Democratic Party in the
country. As minister, her priority was improving teacher training and the
Danish school system.

Rona
Ramon
(1964-2018) was an Israeli educator and STEM
influencer. She has established the Ramon Foundation to promote education and
leadership amongst Israeli youth.

Before moving to the US, she was a volunteer
in the Scouts movement and served as a paramedic for her military service. The
foundation she created is responsible for organizing numerous events that
promote STEM education, including Israel’s Space Week.

Patty Hill (1868-1946) was a school teacher from Kentucky.
She is remembered for composing the melody to the ‘Happy Birthday’ song, along
with her sister Mildred, in 1893.

She was
dedicated to the cause of progressive education for children, and was the
President of the Association for Childhood Education International. She was
also a founder of the National Association for Nursery Education, which still exists
today as the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Dorothea
Beale
(1831-1906) was an important figure in female
education in the United Kingdom. She was the Principal of Cheltenham Ladies’ College,
as well as the founder of St Hilda’s College, Oxford.

She studied in Paris and London, after
which she started teaching maths at Queen’s College. She was elected Principal at
Cheltenham in 1858, chosen out of fifty candidates. She also served as
president of the Headmistresses’ Association and was devoted to a number of
causes, mainly regarding female education and the right to vote.

Betty Campbell (1934-2017) was the first black head teacher in
Wales. She held this position at the Mount Stuart Primary School in Cardiff.

Born in a
low-income, working-class family, she nevertheless won a scholarship at the Lady
Margaret High School for Girls, which paved her way towards a teaching career.
She was a member of the Commission for Racial Equality and was awarded an MBE
for her services to education.

Marva
Collins
(1936-2015) was an educator who, in 1975, founded the Westside Preparatory
School in an impoverished area of Chicago. By doing this, she offered black
children from low-income families the possibility to receive a proper education.

Her school became an instant success, and operated for more than 30 years
under her and her daughter’s leadership, until 2008. She was asked by two
Presidents to be Secretary of Education, but refused each time in favour of focusing
on the individual needs of her students. She was awarded a National Humanities
Medal in 2004.

Isabelle Gati de Gamond (1839-1905) was a
Belgian feminist and educationalist. She was a champion of female education in
her country.

In 1862, she launched a journal
called L’Education de la Femme (Women’s Education), promoting schooling
for girls. Even though her cause was violently opposed by the conservative
press, she persevered and launched the first secondary school courses for girls
in 1864, the first secular education opportunity for women in Belgium.

Philippa
Fawcett
(1868-1948) was an English mathematician. She
was the daughter of Millicent Fawcett, a famous suffragist and one of the
founders of the all-female Newham College in Cambridge.

She studied at the college established by her mother, and in 1890 she
became the first woman to obtain the top score in the Cambridge Mathematical
Tripos exams. Despite this, she was not named as senior wrangler, as that was a
title reserved only for men; instead, the title went to the second-highest
score, even though it was 13% lower than hers. Nevertheless, her achievement
sparked a discussion about the capabilities of women, and she went on to become
a College Lecturer in Mathematics.

Mary Carpenter (1807-1877) was an
important social and education reformer in the United Kingdom. She was involved
in several different causes, including education, anti-slavery, and female
suffrage.

She started off as a
teacher in Bristol, and in 1852 founded a reformatory school, active until
1984. She published several articles and essays asking for better educational
opportunities for girls, and for the better treatment of juvenile offenders. In
1870 she established the National Indian Association in order to improve
relations between India and the United Kingdom, and extended her educational
reforms to the Asian country, where she set up a school for the training of
female teachers.

Elizabeth
Huckaby
(1905-1999) was the Vice-Principal for Girls at Little Rock Central High
School in Arkansas, during the efforts of desegregation in the 1950s. She was
responsible for the protection of the first nine black students admitted at the
school, an experience which inspired her book Crisis at Central High, and later a 1981 film on the topic.

Her efforts were met with hostility and anger in the community, which
was still fraught with prejudice. The fact that she befriended the black
students and stood up for their right to education eventually led to her being
fired and the school temporarily closed. This never weakened her resolve to
fight for equal rights for all.