Even More Astonishing Women
Saint Teresa of Ávila
(March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582), was a prominent Spanish mystic, Roman Catholic saint, Carmelite nun and author during the Counter Reformation, and theologian of contemplative life through mental prayer. Her books, which include her autobiography (The Life of Teresa of Jesus) and her masterwork El Castillo Interior (The Interior Castle), are an integral part of Spanish Renaissance literature as well as Christian mysticism and Christian meditation practices.
Jullian of Norwich
(c. 8 November 1342 – c. 1416) – We do not know her real name or much about her life aside from her books. Important figure in Christianity. Published in 1395, her work, Revelations of Divine Love, is the first published book in the English language to be written by a woman. She was an English anchoress who is regarded as an important Christian mystic. She is venerated in the Anglican and Lutheran churches.
(born September 10, 1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times described her as “far and away, [America’s] best-selling poet”. She won the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award for her piece House of Light (1990), and New and Selected Poems (1992) won the National Book Award.
Dame Katherine Ollerenshaw
(1912 Oct 1 – 2014 Aug 10) was a British mathematician, lecturer, educator and astronomer who loved “magic squares” (grids in which the numbers add up horizontally, vertically and diagonally to the same total). Her best-known work was Most Perfect Pandiagonal Magic Squares: Their Construction and Enumeration (1998), which she co-authored with David Bree. She served as lord mayor of Manchester and as a local counselor for more than 25 years. As a child recovering from a serious illness, she became deaf. She learned to lip read and at 30 got her first hearing aid. She believed that “mathematics is the one school subject not dependent on hearing,” so pursued math, won scholarships and went to Oxford. Working at the Shirley Institute, she met and married Robert Ollerenshaw.
La Belle Otero
(1868 Nov 4 – 1965 Apr 12) was a Spanish actress, dancer, courtesan, gambler, millionaire and most desirable woman in Europe, Augustina del Carmen Otero Iglesias was born. Impoverished, young Carmen was put into service as a maid. Raped at 10, she ran away at 14 with her boyfriend, Paco. She traveled as a gypsy dancer. At 24, a wealthy sponsor moved her to Marseilles where she left him and created her La Belle Otero character. A star at the Folies Bergere, La Belle associated with kings, grand dukes, princes and even had two men fight a duel over her. Retiring after World War 1, La Belle bought a mansion, acquired a fortune, lost it and wound up in a one-room apartment in Nice, France.
(1969) Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America. She served as the U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy from 2013–2014, where she architected and helped found the United States Digital Service.
Ethel L. L. Paine
(August 14, 1911 – May 28, 1991) was an African-American journalist. Known as the “First Lady of the Black Press”, she was a columnist, lecturer, and freelance writer. She combined advocacy with journalism as she reported on the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. She became the first female African-American commentator employed by a national network when CBS hired her in 1972. In addition to her reporting of American domestic politics, she also covered international stories.
Patti is a lifetime women’s advocate and has worked as an athlete, contest organizer, attorney, and CNN reporter. She was on the very first women’s surfing pro tour (one of only six women). In 1994, she instituted and began teaching Gender and Law classes at Pepperdine School of Law. She is the author of “Work Smarts for Women: The Essential Sex Discrimination Survival Guide.”
(16 December 1925 – ) is an internationally renowned composer, conductor and teacher, who studied composition and conducting at Smith College and the Juilliard School where she began her long association with Robert Shaw. The many Parker/Shaw settings of American folksongs, hymns and spirituals from that period form an enduring repertoire for choruses all around the world. Her list of published compositions has over five hundred titles, ranging from operas through song cycles, cantatas and choral suites to many individual anthems. She has been commissioned by hundreds of community, school and church choruses, and her works appear in the catalogs of a dozen publishing companies.
(22 August 1893 – 7 June 1967) was a poet, critic, satirist and screenwriter and one of the founding members of the Algonquin Round Table. In 1929, she received the O. Henry Award for her short story “Big Blonde.” Her screenwriting received two Academy Award nominations before she was blacklisted by Hollywood for her politics.
(1853 – 1942 March 7) was from Texas, of American Indian, Spanish and African American background. An anarchist, revolutionary, socialist, and communist Lucy fought for workers’ rights, women’s rights, and labor unions. She wrote articles for The Socialist, Freedom, and The Liberator. Lucy fought oppression, hunger and unemployment. She was married, had 2 kids, her husband was hanged and still she fought until her death from fire in 1942.
(10 May 1900 – 7 December 1979) was a British-born American astronomer who made pioneering discoveries, including that stars are made mainly of hydrogen and helium, and established that stars could be classified according to their temperatures. In 1956 she became the first full time female professor at Harvard University.
Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney
September 11th pilot. Lt. Heather “Lucky” Penney had her orders on Sept 11th: Bring down United Airlines Flight 93. The day’s fourth hijacked airliner seemed to be hurtling toward Washington. Penney, one of the first two combat pilots in the air that morning, was told to stop it. She didn’t have live ammunition. Or missiles. Or anything at all to throw at a hostile aircraft. Except her own plane. So that was the plan.
(1909 Oct 19 – 1975 May 13) was a French physicist who discovered the last naturally produced element, Francium. She studied under Marie Curie.
Frances Perkins Wilson
(born Fannie Coralie Perkins; April 10, 1880 – May 14, 1965) was the U.S. Secretary of Labor from 1933 to 1945, the longest serving in that position, and the first woman appointed to the U.S. Cabinet. As a loyal supporter of her friend, Franklin D. Roosevelt, she helped pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition. She and Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes were the only original members of the Roosevelt cabinet to remain in office for his entire presidency.
(1908 Oct 12 – 1997 Apr 28) was the first black woman writer with book sales of over a million copies. Raised in modest privilege in Connecticut. She suffered a few racist incidences, but lived a rather sheltered life. Ann got a Ph.G degree in pharmacy to follow in the family business. She also wrote short stories. Ann married in 1938, moved to Harlem and had her eyes opened to what it meant to live among a large population of poor black people. Her daughter Liz said, “her way of dealing…was to write this book which maybe was something that people who had grown up in Harlem couldn’t do.” The Street, published in 1946, sold over one million copies. Ann and her family moved back to Connecticut in 1947 where she wrote several more books, more short stories and children’s books.
Elizabeth J. Phillips
(née Magie; May 9, 1866 – March 2, 1948) was an American game designer, writer and Georgist. She invented The Landlord’s Game, the precursor to Monopoly, to illustrate teachings of the progressive era economist Henry George.
Although her legacy may be centered on creating board games, she should also be remembered for creating easier and more effective ways of communicating important economic ideas. Magie explained in her own words that her game was “a practical demonstration of the present system of land-grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences”(ATI). Another important aspect of Magie’s life was her ability to find ways to fight back against widely held ideals in a time when women were treated as lesser to men. Magie grew up in a household of abolitionists which engrained in her the need to fight for what she believed in. This can be seen in the Landlord’s Game as she was able to communicate her views on large industrialists like John D. Rockfeller and Andrew Carnegie.
(1895 Jan 5 – 1981 May 17) was a balloonist, Episcopalian priest and considered by some, the first woman in space. Jeannette was the first licensed female balloon pilot, and the first woman to fly to the stratosphere…in 1934! With her husband, she controlled the balloon to 10.9 miles, over 57,000 feet. She got a degree in organic chemistry from U of Minn. From ’64 to ’70, Jeannette consulted with NASA about the space program. In ’71, Jeannette was ordained a deacon, then in ’79, Jeannette became an ordained priest.
(born 1936 March 31), is an activist, novelist and poet, Marge is one of the multidimensional writers of the feminist voice…science fiction (Hem She, and It) or sweeping historical novels (Gone to Soldiers). Marge is an associate of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press (WIFP). A few pieces can be found in the quintessential 70s anthology, Sisterhood is Powerful: An Anthology of Writings from the Women’s Liberation Movement.
(7 December 1921 – 8 July 2013) – One of the first military female pilots in the Soviet Union. Was highly decorated with awards including the title “Hero of the Soviet Union”, the Gold Star Medal, the Order of Lenin, and three Orders of the Red Star during the WWII. Part of the Night’s Witches.