Inspirational Women

International Women's Day

International Women’s Day: Inspirational Women

In our infographic, we’ve created profiles of ten of our favourite inspirational women to share with your class on International Women’s Day, on 8th March. They are perfect for learners aged 10 to 14. We’ve found amazing women to cover every area of the curriculum, from Maths and Science to Art and Activism. Let us know about your favourite inspirational women in the comments section below.

International Women's Day

Ada Lovelace

Born: 10th December 1815, London
Died: 27th November 1852, London
Known for: Mathematics and computing

The first in our list of inspirational women, Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, was an English mathematician and writer. She is known for working with Charles Babbage on his ‘Analytical Engine’. Ada was the first person to realise that Babbage’s machine could be used for more than just calculation, and to see its potential as a ‘computing machine’. Her notes on the machine contain what many people consider to be the first ever computer programme. She also examined how individuals and society relate to technology as a collaborative tool; something that we still talk about today.

Did you know?
Ada was the only legitimate child of the famous poet, Lord Byron.

Katherine Johnson

Born: 26th August 1918, West Virginia, US
Died: 24th February 2020, Virginia, US
Known for: Mathematics at NASA

Katherine Johnson was the first African-American woman to attend West Virginia University. During her first years at NASA, due to racial segregation, Katherine was required to work, eat, and use restrooms separately from her white peers. Katherine’s calculations as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first manned spaceflights. Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories, launch windows and emergency return paths for spaceflights, including those of the first Americans in space and orbit, and on flights to the Moon. She also helped NASA to pioneer the use of computers.

Did you know?
In 2015, Katherine was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama.

Frida Kahlo

Born: 6th July 1907, Mexico City, Mexico
Died: 13th July 1954, Mexico City, Mexico
Know for: Art

Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist who painted many portraits, self-portraits and works inspired by her home country of Mexico. In her work, she explored questions of identity, post-colonialism, gender, class and race in Mexican society. Her paintings were often autobiographical and mixed realism with fantasy. Frida was a promising student, however, a traffic accident when she was eighteen, left her with lifelong pain and medical problems, During her recovery, she took up her childhood hobby of art. She only became world-famous in the late twentieth century, more than twenty years after her death.

Did you know?
In 1984, Mexico declared Frida’s works as national cultural heritage, prohibiting them from being exported from the country.

Rosa Parks

Born: 4th February 1913, Alabama, US
Died: 24th October 2005, Michigan, US
Known for: Civil Rights Activist

Rosa Parks was an American activist in the civil rights movement and is best known for her pivotal role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott. In December 1955, Rosa refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger; she was arrested for civil disobedience. Her prominence and willingness to become a controversial figure, inspired the black community to boycott Montgomery buses; the first major campaign of the civil rights movement. Rosa’s defiance became a symbol of the movement. She continued to work for the movement, alongside Martin Luther King Jnr and other leaders. We think she’s one of the most inspirational women in US history.

Did you know?
Upon her death in 2005, Rosa was the first woman to lie in honour in the Capitol Rotunda, one of only four Americans to receive this honour.

Marie Curie

Born: 7th November 1867, Warsaw, Poland
Died: 4th July 1934, Haute-Savoie, France
Known for: Physics and Chemistry

Marie Curie was a scientist who did pioneering research on radioactivity. She discovered two new elements, polonium and radium, as well as leading the world’s first studies in the use of radiation on tumours. She also developed mobile x-ray units to support field hospitals during world war one. Marie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris.

Did you know?
In 1995 Marie became the first woman to be entombed in the Panthéon in Paris as a result of her own personal achievements.

Elizabeth I

Born: 7th September 1533, Greenwich, London
Died: 24th March 1603, Surrey, England
Known for: being the Queen of England

One of Elizabeth’s first actions as queen, was the establishment of an English Protestant church, this evolved to become the Church of England. Elizabeth was more moderate than her father and siblings, and was relatively tolerant in terms of religion. She was also cautious in foreign affairs, but through the English defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, she became associated with one of the greatest victories in English history. After the short reigns of her half-siblings, her 44 years on the throne provided welcome stability for the kingdom and helped forge a sense of national identity.

Did you know?
Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, was executed on the orders of her father, Henry VIII, when Elizabeth was just two years old.

Amelia Earheart

Born: 24th July 1897, Kansas, US
Died: c. 2nd July 1937, Pacific Ocean
Known for: being an aviation pioneer

Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences and was instrumental in the formation of The Ninety-Nines, an organization for female pilots. In 1935, Amelia started to work at Purdue University as an advisor on aeronautical engineering and a career counsellor for women students. During an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight around the globe in 1937, Amelia’s plane disappeared over the Pacific Ocean, it was never found.

Did you know?
Amelia was the sixteenth woman in the United States to be issued with a pilot’s license.

J K Rowling

Born: 31st July 1965, Gloucester, England
Died: N/a
Known for: being a world-famous author

J K Rowling is a British novelist, best known for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have won multiple awards, and sold more than 500 million copies, becoming the best-selling book series in history. They have also been the basis for a film series, over which Rowling had overall approval on the scripts and was a producer on the final films in the series. Rowling has progressed from living on state benefits to being the world’s first billionaire author. She lost her billionaire status after giving away much of her earnings to charity, but remains one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Did you know?
J K Rowling came up with the idea for Harry Potter whilst on a delayed train.

Malala Yousafzai

Born: 12th July 1997, Swat, Pakistan
Died: N/a
Known for: human rights advocacy

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Prize winner. She’s one of our favourite modern inspirational women. She is known for fighting for human rights, especially the education of women and children in northwest Pakistan, where the Taliban have at times banned girls from attending school. On the 9th October 2012, while on a bus, Malala and two other girls were shot by a Taliban gunman in an assassination attempt in retaliation for her activism. Following her recovery, Malala became a prominent activist for the right to education. Her work has grown into an international movement.

Did you know?
In 2013, Malala co-authored I Am Malala, an international best seller.

Emmeline Pankhurst

Born: 15th July 1858, Manchester, England
Died: 14th June 1928, London, England
Known for: leading the suffragettes

Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union, an all-women organisation dedicated to fighting for votes for women. With a motto of ‘deeds, not words’, the WSPU became known for smashing windows, assaulting police officers and destroying property. Pankhurst, her daughters, and other suffragettes were repeatedly sent to prison, where they went on hunger strike to secure better conditions, and were often force fed. She was widely criticised for her violent tactics, but her work is recognised as crucial in achieving the women’s vote in the United Kingdom.

Did you know?
At the outbreak of the First World War, Emmeline called for a halt to suffrage activism in support of the British government’s fight against Germany.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our favourite inspirational women, and that your pupils like our infographic too. Don’t forget, we’d love to hear about your favourite inspirational women. Let us know in the comments section below.

Have a brilliant International Women’s Day!

Read more…

World Book Day 2019 – Writing with Sensory Details: Also this week is World Book Day! Thursday 7th March gives us a great opportunity to get pupils enthused about reading and writing. As well as talking about the books we love and why we love them, it gives pupils the chance to unleash their inner J K Rowling.


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