Shirley Chisholm – First Black Congresswoman

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

Before Barack Obama, and before Hillary Clinton, there was Shirley Chisholm.

She served in the New York State Assembly, then made history in 1968 by being elected the first black woman elected to the US Congress. 

Shirley championed a bill to ensure domestic workers got benefits, advocated for better access to education, fought for immigrant rights, and more. 

She also worked tirelessly to expand government funded food programs which built the foundation for WIC. 

Shirley ran for president under the Democratic ticket in 1972. Her slogan, “Unbought and unbossed.”

She survived several assination attempts during her campaign and sued for the right to debate on television. She made it all the way to the Democratic National Convention but lost the nomination to George McGovern. 

Learn more here.

Hedy Lemarr – Inventor of Wi-Fi 

An actress who performed along the greats like Judy Garland and Clark Gable in the Golden Age of Hollywood was so much more than a movie star. 

It was Hedy’s idea for a secret communication system, specifically to guide torpedoes using “frequency hopping” during WWII.

Her invention is used for Wi-Fi, GPS, and most military communication.

She signed her patent over to the Navy who shelved the idea and told her to make money for the war instead of ‘silly inventing’. She never made a dime or got the credit she deserved.

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Ladies who invented your favorite genre

Do you love stories about masked heroes who fight for the poor? Science experiments gone awry? Utopian societies? Rogue space adventurers? 

You have these women to thank.


Margaret Lucas Cavendish – 1660s

Utopian Sci-Fi

The eccentric Duchess of New Castle aka “Mad Madge” published her works under her name at a time where female writers remained anonymous. Her novella “The Blazing World” was the first science fiction novel, and represents a pioneering female scientific Utopia. 

Learn more here.

Mary Shelly 
Sci-Fi Horror 

She published “Frankenstein, or the Post Modern Prometheus” at age 21 in 1818. Her other famous works include “Valperga” and “The Last Man.”

Learn more here.


Emma Orczy 1890s

Costumed Vigilante 

When she was three, her family held a big party where everyone was in costume. Afterwards, she was hurriedly tucked into bed. Outside she could see red; the barn, the stables and the crops were burned in protest.

She considered this her “spiritual birthplace.” She would later use this moment for themes in her work: poor rebelling against​ the rich, and the mystery of the mask.

She wrote “The Scarlett Pimpernel” in five weeks. It was published first as a play, then a novel. It went on to be adapted for movies and Broadway, and even referenced in cartoons.

Learn more here.

Catherine Lucille Moore – 1930s

Space Western

C.L. Moore’s work started showing up in pulp magazines including two significant series in “Weird Tales.” One was about a rogue and adventurer Northwest Smith wandering throughout space, the other was about the warrior Jirel of Joiry, one of the first female protagonists in “sword and sorcery” fiction.

Her work also appeared in “Astounding Science Fiction” magazine. These include: “Judgement Night,” “The Code,”Promised Land,” “Heir Apparent,” and “Paradise Street.” 

In 1981, she received the “World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement” and the”Gandalf Grand Master Award” at the World Science Fiction Convention. 

Learn more here.

Juliette “Daisy” Low – Founder of the Girl Scouts

“I’ve got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we’re going to start it tonight!”
– Juliette Low at the first Girl Scout meeting

At a time where women didn’t even have the right to vote, a nearly deaf woman created an outdoor and educational program for young girls that emphasized three core values: Courage, Confidence, and Character.

105 years ago, Juliette Low and a group of 18 girls started the Girl Scout movement in Savannah, Georgia. Unusual for the time, Juliette ensured that all girls, no matter their class, race, culture, or ability, could learn and develop their leadership skills.

Today there are over 3 million Girl Scouts and 53 million alumnae.

Learn more here.


Just some of Juliette’s Accomplishments…

1944: She had a Liberty ship named after her, the SS Juliette Low.

1948: She got her face on a 3 cent stamp.

1954: An elementary school is named after her in Savannah, GA.

1979: She is inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY.

2005: She is memorialized in the “Point of Light” monument in Washington DC.

2012: President Obama  posthumously awards her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award.

 

 

 

Wendy the Welder(s): WWII Battleship Builders 

Move over Rosie!

These white women worked in the Kaiser shipyards in Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR, and they managed to crank out a Liberty ship almost every week.

They wore heavy denim, leather coveralls, and steel toed shoes from the men’s department.

Welders faced opposition from unions, husbands, and even the shipyard newspaper. But soon, people found them capable and competent, and gained support.

After the war, they were laid off so servicemen could return to their jobs, and so they could return back to the home.

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The Night Witches: World War II Fighter Pilots

In the dead of night, the 588th regimen would turn off their engines, and drop bombs on Nazi forces. 

“Nachthexen” or “Night Witches” the Nazis called them.

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In 1942, Russian women from 17-26 years old started their military training.  They were given ill-fitted uniforms and boots, and cut their hair short.

They flew outdated Polikarpov Po-2 aircraft – two-seated, open-cockpit bi planes. The planes were slow, loud, and some pilots got frostbite from being exposed to the icy air. 

At the end of the war, the Night Witches had flown almost 30,000 bomb raids and delivered 23,000 tons of munitions right to the Nazis.

Learn more here.