Jarena Lee (1783-1864) was the first woman authorised
to preach in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. She was also the first
African American whose autobiography was published in the United States.
She worked as a maid from a very young age, and found a
religious calling so strong that she asked Richard Allen, the founder of the
Church, to preach, even though female preachers were unheard of. He allowed this
for the first time in 1819, after eight years, sparking an important Protestant
revival. She later became a travelling preacher and was known as one of the
most influential African American women of her time.
Gisela Januszewska (1867-1943) was an Austrian physician, known for her service during the
First World War and, later, for her social activism.
completing her medical degree at the University of Zurich, she volunteered in
the obstetrics department of the city’s hospital, and later went to Bosnia as
one of its first female physicians. She worked for better access to medical
care for Muslim Bosnian women, and during the First World War, she volunteered
to be part of the medical military corps. A victim of Nazi Germany’s racial
policy, she died in a concentration camp in 1943.
Marlene Sanders (1931-2015) was a news correspondent and anchor who worked for ABC and
CBS News. She was the first female anchor of an evening news broadcast on a
started working a low-level job in television in 1955, but progressed through
the ranks until she became the first woman to report on the Vietnam War from the
field, and later the first female vice president of ABC News. She produced
documentaries for CBS news, especially on women’s movements, and won three Emmys
for this work.
Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney (1875-1942) was a famous art collector and patron. She
founded the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City in 1931.
was an artist in her own right, starting a career as a sculptor in Paris. Her
first publicly presented work was Aspiration in 1901. Her work can now
be admired in public spaces around New York City, San Francisco and Washington,
D.C., among others.
Jeannette Piccard (1895-1981) was a high-altitude balloonist,
regarded as the first woman in space. She achieved this in 1934, on a flight
that reached the stratosphere, at a record-breaking height of 17.5 kilometres.
Her altitude record
stood for 29 years, until Valentina Tereshkova’s historic space flight in 1963.
She was also one of the first women ever ordained as deacons of the Episcopal
Church, as part of the Philadelphia Eleven in 1974.
Nora Inayat-Khan (1914-1944) was a British World War
II heroine, and the first Muslim to have this honour.
Of Indian and American descent, she lived in England at the outbreak of the
second World War, and decided the join the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. She was
the first woman sent to work as a wireless operator in occupied France, in aid
of the French Resistance. She was captured by the Germans and executed in the Dachau
concentration camp in 1944.
Gloria Ricci Lothrop (1934-2015) was an academic and researcher based at
Cal Poly Pomona. She was the first woman to ever join the history department of
most important contribution to research was uncovering the historical role of
women in the Old West. She managed to uncover numerous artefacts and historical
sources, some written or indexed under male names, that were actually
contributions of women.
Martha Coffin Wright
(1806-1875) was a prominent
feminist and abolitionist. She was a signatory of the 1848 Declaration of
Sentiments, which aimed to offer women improved civil, social and political
She was an organizer
of the Seneca Falls Convention, the first ever event dedicated to women’s
rights. Her home became an Underground Railroad station, and she was a close
friend and supporter of Harriet Tubman.
Ruby Bradley (1907-2002) was one of the most decorated women
in the history of the US military. She received over 34 medals and awards for
her service during World War II and the Korean War.
She served as a
surgical nurse from 1934. In 1943 she was captured as a POW in Manila, where she
provided medical aid for other prisoners and helped deliver 13 children. She later
served in the Korean War and was named Chief Nurse of the Eighth Army,
supervising over 500 other nurses.