Female Leaders

of one

Female Leaders

Some of the most impactful female leaders in history include Kamala Harris, Queen Elizabeth I (1533 to 1603), Angela Merkel, Catherine the Great (1729 to 1796), and several other women. Kamala Harris recently became the first woman in America's history to be elected vice president. She also made history as the first Indian-American woman to be elected into the United States Senate.

Kamala Harris

On November 7, 2020, Kamala Harris became one of the world's most significant historical figures. She was the first woman in America's history to become its elected vice president. In 2016, she broke the record to become the first Indian-American woman to be elected as a member of the Senate of the United States.

Marie Curie

  • Marie Curie (1867 to 1934) was a pioneering scientist and physicist, who defined radioactivity, discovered several (two) new elements (polonium and radium), and designed a portable x-ray machine.
  • Currie was the first person to win two separate Noble Prizes (for chemistry and physics).

Ada Lovelace

  • Ada Lovelace (1815 to 1852) was an English mathematician. She was also the world’s first computer programmer.
  • She is famously known to be the first person to publish a computer algorithm. Her genius was years ahead of her time.

Queen Elizabeth I

  • Queen Elizabeth I (1533 to 1603) referred to herself as "The Virgin Queen" because she decided to marry her country rather than marry a man. Queen Elizabeth I is one of the most successful monarchs in the entire history of Britain. Under her rule, England became a significant European power in commerce, politics, and the arts.

Angela Merkel

  • Angela Merkel, née Angela Dorothea Kasner, was born on July 17, 1954, in Hamburg, West Germany. She is a German politician who, in 2005, earned the title of the first female chancellor of Germany.

Catherine the Great

  • Catherine the Great (1729 to 1796) is one of the world's most significant historical figures. She was a Prussian-born Queen that had a loveless marriage to the King of Russia. She staged a coup to overthrow her husband (Peter III) and name herself "Empress of the Russian Empire" in 1762.
  • Catherine modernized Russia and established the premiere state-funded female school. She also reeled back the power churches had within the state and fought to develop trade, the economy, and the arts.

Funmilayo Ransome Kuti

  • Several years before the second wave of feminism in the West, a woman made activist waves across Nigeria. Her name is Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti. Her feminism and democratic socialism created The Abeokuta women's union (AWU) and the Women's International Democratic Federation (WIDF).
  • Funmilayo Anikulapo-Kuti promoted women's rights to education, employment, and political participation. When a ruling king (Alake Ademola of Egbaland) decided to impose taxes on women, Kuti along with the AWU clan staged an effective protest with the slogan "no taxation without representation."

Sojourner Truth

  • Sojourner Truth lived between 1797 and 1883. She is one of the topmost inspirational black women throughout America's history. Her speech is one of the most famous speeches ever given by any woman.
  • Sojourner Truth was a women's rights activist and an African-American abolitionist. She delivered a very famous speech at the Ohio Women's Rights Convention, which took place in Akron in 1851. The Ohio Women's Rights Convention speech is popularly known for the phrase "Ain't I a Woman?"

Christine Lagarde

  • Christine Lagarde was born on January 1, 1956, in Paris, France. She is a French lawyer and politician. She is known as the first woman to become France's finance minister (2007 to 2011).
  • Christine Lagarde was a managing director with the International Monetary Fund (IMF, 2011 to 2019). She is also the president of the European Central Bank.

Ursula von der Leyen

  • Ursula von der Leyen was recently elected the first female European commission president. She was nominated for the position of president of the EU after about 50 hours of hard negotiations despite not being among the lead candidates.

Edith Cowan

  • Edith Cowan (1861 to 1932) is on Australia's 50 dollar note. She has a University named in her memory in Western Australia. She was Australia's first-ever "female member of parliament" and was also a powerful women's rights activist.

Amelia Earhart

  • Earhart was born in Kansas in 1897. She several aviation records, but her attempt to become the first person to travel around (circumnavigate) the globe led to her disappearance and probably death.
  • In July 1937, Earhart disappeared around the Pacific. The wreckage has been missing to this day. Her disappearance has remained one of the greatest unresolved mysteries in the twentieth century.

Jane Austen

  • Jane Austen (1775 to 1817) wrote some of her day's most famous novels. It wasn't until her death that her brother, Henry, disclosed that she was the real author. Her literary influence has remained up till today.

Anne Frank

  • Anne Frank (1929 to 1945) wrote one of the most powerful, honest, and poignant accounts of World War II. She came from a Jewish family living in Austria, Germany, throughout Hitler's rise to power and World War II.
  • The diary of Anne Frank is written in (translated into) about 70 languages and portrays one of the most inhumane moments in human history and can educate men on the universal human qualities of passion, love, emotion, hope, desire, fear, and strength.

Maya Angelou

  • Maya Angelou (1928 to 2014) is one of the most influential women in America's history. She was a singer, poet, memoirist, and civil-rights activist.
  • HerMaya Angelou's award-winning memoir "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings" made history. It was the first nonfiction best-seller produced by an African-American woman.

Rosa Parks

  • Rosa Parks (1913 to 2005) joined a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. The bus driver required that she stand up to give her seat to another passenger (a white man). Parks was a black seamstress and refused to oblige. In her refusal, she sparked a civil rights movement throughout America.

Malala Yousafzai

  • Malala Yousafzai was born in 1997. She publicly spoke out on issues of women’s rights to education. She spoke out when the Taliban took over her town and banned all girls from going to school.
  • A gunman once boarded her school bus to silence Malala Yousafzai and shot her in the head, but she survived.
  • Malala Yousafzai then moved to the United Kingdom, where she became a prominent figure globally and recently became the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17 years.

Melinda Gates

Rosalind Franklin

  • Rosalind Franklin, 1920 to 1958, uncovered the crucial evidence to prove the double helix structure of DNA. She was an expert crystallographer.
  • Rosalind Franklin's famous photograph 51 is an X-ray picture. It revealed a dark cross of dots, the signature image of DNA (a concealed molecular spiral). Her life-changing innovations paved the way for test-tube babies, human genome mapping, and genetic engineering.

Margaret Thatcher

  • Margaret Thatcher (1925 to 2013) was Britain’s first female prime minister. She came to power when Britain was unsettled and faced political disharmony with an economic recession.

Angela Burdett-Coutts

  • Angela Burdett-Coutts (1814 to 1906) was the first woman to be made a peer. She made a baroness by Queen Victoria due to her work for the poor.
  • Despite being prevented from working at Coutts Bank after inheriting her grandfather's shares and fortune with Coutts Bank, she went ahead and got these awards.

Mary Wollstonecraft

  • Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 to 1997) was an English writer and philosopher. She championed liberation and education for women.
  • She wrote a book titled "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." The book was published in 1792 and is considered a foundational text for modern feminism.

Florence Nightingale

  • Florence Nightingale (1820 to 1910) led the first official British military unit to Turkey for the Crimean War between Britain and Russia between 1853 and 1856.
  • Florence Nightingale suggested ways to reduce avoidable deaths among soldiers. She was instrumental in establishing a permanent military nursing service. She was also instrumental in the implementation and improvements of Britain's army medical services.

Virgin Mary

  • Virgin Mary (1st-century BC to 1st-century AD) is known as the mother of Jesus. Mary is popular among Christians and Muslims and is notably or historically the most famous woman in the world. The exact details of Mary's life are sketchy, even though they are in the New Testament.

Diana, Princess of Wales

  • Diana, Princess of Wales (1961 to 1997), was the first wife of Charles, Prince of Wales (the apparent heir to the British throne). Their wedding clips reached a global television audience of over 700 million people.
  • Diana continued to draw much media attention, even after divorcing Prince Charles in 1996. She was well-known globally for her charity work for children, the sick, raising awareness on cancer, HIV/AIDS, and mental diseases.

Queen Victoria

  • Queen Victoria (1819–1901) is one of the United Kingdom's most iconic monarchs. Over a century after her death, she still appears in countless TV series and films. She was crowned in 1837.
  • Queen Victoria oversaw the UK and its empire throughout a remarkable season of technological, social, and economic change.

Mother Teresa

  • Mother Teresa (1910 to 1997) was born in Albania. She was a Roman Catholic nun and lived in India for the most significant part of her life. In 1950, she started the Missionaries of Charity, which brought many sisters together to take vows of chastity, obedience poverty, and free service to the most vulnerable poor.
  • Mother Teresa's work covered over 130 countries and included managing homes for aged people who were dying. She also ran soup kitchens, schools, and orphanages.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

  • President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Liberian and was Africa's first woman president. She is a graduate of Havard and won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

Yaa Asantewa — The Commander in Chief

  • Yaa Asantewa (1840 to 1921) hails from the Asante state Edweso in Ghana. She was known as the military leader of the "Yaa Asantewa War."
  • The Yaa Asantewa War was the last war fought between the Asante and the British. Yaa Asantewa became popular among the British by the name or title, the "Joan D'Arc of Africa."

Winnie Mandela

  • Winnie Mandela (1936 to 2018) is the wife of Nelson Mandella, a former president of South Africa who was incarcerated for a long time before becoming president. Winnie Mandella's leadership and outspoken opposition to the excesses of the white minority rule in South Africa played an equalizing role in South Africa's anti-apartheid campaign.

Research Strategy

The research has examined historical archives, news articles, media articles, journals, and several credible online resources for information on female leaders who have impacted significant parts of their world like their countries, continents, or specific geographic regions. The research brief defines impactful female leaders as (though not limited to) successful female scientists, artists, activists, that were first to do something or overcome significant obstacles. These include business owners, among other women.

Did this report spark your curiosity?