Agnes Macphail (1890-1954) was the first female Member of Parliament in Canada. She was elected to the House of Commons in 1921, as a member of the Progressive Party.
She was the first Canadian female delegate to the League of Nations in Geneva. In 1939, she founded the Elizabeth Fry society, which worked on issues affecting women and girls in the criminal justice system.
Bette Nesmith Graham (1924-1980) was the inventor of Liquid Paper, a correction fluid which revolutionised typewriting.
Educated only to high-school level, she found a job as a secretary with Texas Bank and Trust, and eventually became executive secretary – the highest position available to women at the time. She invented a white correction paint which made it easy to cover mistakes made by typewriters, and started marketing it in 1956. This grew into a company with over 200 employees, selling millions of bottles every year.
The Edinburgh Seven: The Quest for Equal Access to Education • Fearless Femme:
Please enjoy my article on a topic very close to my heart, published by the wonderful magazine Fearless Femme! And while you’re there, check out other great articles on topics of feminism and mental health.
Emilie Kempin-Spyri (1853-1901) was the first woman to obtain a law degree in Switzerland. Since she was not allowed to practice in her native country afterwards, she emigrated to the United States and established a law school for women.
She graduated from the University of Zurich in 1887 as the first female Doctor of Law in Europe. She applied to become a lecturer at the university, but was rejected twice, on account of her not being an active citizen – Swiss women were denied citizenship at the time.
Anna Atkins (1799-1871) was the
first person in the world to publish a book illustrated with photographic images. She
is also said to be the first woman to ever create a photograph.
She studied botany, and later
became interested in photography. She used the cyanotype photographic process
to create photograms of algae, that she published in the form of a book in 1843.
The book is of considerable historical importance and rarity; only 17 copies
are known to exist, held in institutions such as The British Library and the
Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Thakral (1914-2008) was an Indian aviator, the first woman in her country to fly
an aircraft. She obtained her pilot license in 1936, at the age of 21.
She was the first woman to obtain an ‘A’ license in India, after she
accumulated over a thousand hours of flying. In addition to this, she was an
artist and business woman, designing clothes and jewellery.
Taylor (1833-1910) was the first woman to graduate from dental school in the
United States. She finished her studies at the Ohio College of Dental Surgery
She tried to pursue a medical career early on, but was denied entry to
the Ohio Eclectic Medical College on account of her gender. She studied
dentistry privately and opened a practice, joining the Iowa State Dental
Society without any formal qualifications. Eventually, women were allowed to
study medicine, and she managed to obtain her doctorate in dentistry.
Miner (1815-1864) was an abolitionist and proponent of civil rights despite
considerable opposition from society. In 1851, she opened the Normal School for
Colored Girls in Washington, DC, to provide a place of education for African-American
She founded the school after trying to establish classes for students of
color in white schools, and being denied permission. Even though it was closed
during the Civil War, the school eventually merged with other local
institutions to become the University of the District of Columbia.
Mary Lyon (1797-1849) was an
important figure in the movement for women’s education in the United States.
She founded Wheaton College and Mount Holyoke College (under the names of
Female Seminaries), serving as president for the latter for 12 years.
She began as a teacher, and helped open the Wheaton Female Seminary in 1834,
aiming to provide the same quality curriculum as the men’s colleges. She also
worked hard to allow students of all socioeconomic backgrounds to access a high
level of education.
Louisa Lawson (1848-1920) was an Australian writer and
prominent feminist. She founded The Dawn,
the first journal in Australia produced exclusively by women, and kept it
running for 17 years.
The Dawn was first published in 1888, and addressed
women’s issues such as domestic violence, legal and economic rights, and
education, with a strong feminist perspective. She founded the Dawn Club in 1889,
the main hub for the women’s suffrage movement in Sydney. She was named the “Mother
of Suffrage in New South Wales”, and was instrumental to Austalian women
obtaining the right to vote in 1902.