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Notable Women

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Find biographies of hundreds of notable women -- ones who are famous and others who are not as well known -- women who have made a difference in the world. Look below for more collections of biographies by field and time period.
  1. Biographies A-Z
  2. Women in Power
  3. Feminists: First Wave and Earlier
  4. Feminists: 1960s/1970s
  5. Women Writers
  6. Women in the Workplace: Labor, Business
  1. Service and Change Agents: Humanitarians and Social Reformers
  2. Women in the Ancient World
  3. Women in the Medieval and Renaissance World
  4. Women in Medicine
  5. Women in Science and Math
  6. Women in Sports

Biographies A-Z

If you already know what woman you're looking for, check out the massive biography index listing women from A-Z, from Abakanowicz to Zenobia, or specific listings for women in black history. Many notable women are included in the women's history picture gallery. You can also find out a lot about a woman from what she said, so check out the collection of quotes from notable women.

Women in Power

Nancy Pelosi

Despite the simple fact that most of the powerful figures in history have been men, some women have risen above these cultural expectations and wielded tremendous power. Learn more about women who've ruled as queens (or empresses or pharaohs, etc.), influenced history as queen consorts or first ladies, and who've headed nations.

Feminists: First Wave and Earlier

Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

A few women advocated for women's rights before there was a women's movement, and they helped to inspired the first organizers. The "first wave" is usually considered all women's rights organizing through the winning of the vote for women in most major Western countries.

Feminists: 1960s/1970s

Feminist Gloria Steinem

The revival of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s, often called the Second Wave, was inspired by many factors: women's involvement in the Civil Rights movement, changing economics, boredom with traditional roles, the arrival of methods to control one's reproduction. Here are some of the women prominent in that movement.

Women Writers

Image of Sappho from Pompeii, about 60 C.E.

For centuries, one of the fields open to women, a field where women could quite literally find their voices, was writing. On this site you'll find many biographies of women writers. Here are a few women writers as representative samples, plus links to find many, many more.

Women in the Workplace: Labor, Business

Maggie Lena Walker

Women have made their mark in the workplace, and not just in the 20th century. Women have founded or inherited and run major business enterprises, and women have organized the workplace for better working conditions and compensation. Read about some of the women who've made in impact in the workplace:

Service and Change Agents: Humanitarians and Social Reformers

Wangari Maathai

Women have often conceived their responsibility as "public housekeeping" -- making the world better for others. Here are some notable women who conceived of their work as making the world better, and links to find more.

Women in the Ancient World

Hatshepsut as Osiris

A few of the women history remembers from ancient and classical times: Egypt, Greece, Rome, Israel, the Near East and more. Plus links to many more.

Women in the Medieval and Renaissance World

Women in medieval and renaissance times were usually defined primarily through their roles as daughters, wives, and mothers. Most names are lost to history -- both because historical records were less complete than later records, and because most women weren't considered worthy of mention. A few women achieved power and fame through their roles as wives, mothers, daughters, and grandmothers; a very few achieved lasting fame through their own achievements. Here are some lists of biographies of women in medieval and renaissance times, along with a few links to biographies of some of the most famous (or infamous).

Women in Medicine

Clara Barton

Women pioneers in medicine and nursing have broken down barriers and changed the face of medicine itself by influencing how medicine is practiced. Florence Nightingale reshaped how the field of nursing was practiced, moving it from a practice of nuns and uneducated laywomen to a scientifically-grounded profession. The first woman in the modern era to become a medical doctor with full credentials was Elizabeth Blackwell, but a few women made their mark in the field before her, and many more followed after once the barriers were broken.

Women in Science and Math

Marie Curie

Women have made significant contributions to the fields of science and math, despite often overwhelming odds and discrimination. Here are some of the famous women you might want to learn more about, in chemistry, physics, life sciences (biology, environmental science), anthropology, computer science, math, and more:

Women in Sports

German Team Wins 2007 Women's World Cup Final

Women have excelled in many individual and team sports, playing in separate women's events at competitions and on women's teams. Whether at the Olympics or at Wimbledon, or at many other venues, women's sports have fascinated audiences and drawn participants. Here are a few of the greats of women's sports:

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