Women to know
You likely haven't heard of the majority of these women, but learning more about their achievements is well worth your time. Some of them wield political, business or civic power, while others express creativity and strength through their writing, research, art or activism. Some were born to fame and wealth, while others were barely known in their own lifetimes and even less so now. All are of interest if you want to expand your knowledge of fascinating women around the world.
Generally speaking, unless it's pertinent to their work or it constitutes a first of some kind, the races and sexual orientations of these women are not disclosed. Nor are their family relationships: whose daughter, wife, mother, etc. they were or are. Nor are their titles: inherited, awarded or earned. They appear in alphabetical order by first name. We welcome suggestions for this ever-expanding list.
When did caring for children become a "labor of love," smothered under a blanket of sentimentality that hides its economic importance? ― ANN CRITTENDEN
A. S. Byatt (b. 1936). English. Novelist, poet and winner of the Booker Prize.
Abbey Lincoln (1930 – 2010). American. Jazz vocalist, songwriter, actress and civil rights activist.
Aelita Andre (b. 2007). Australian. Abstract artist who began painting before her first birthday. Had her first group exhibition at age two and her first solo exhibition at age four, in New York City.
Agnes Repplier (1858 – 1950). American. Essayist and literary critic.
Aimee Mann (b. 1960). American. Singer, songwriter, actress and multi-instrumentalist.
Alice Paul (1885 – 1977). American. Suffragist and one of the leading strategists behind the campaign for the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution.
Alina Ibragimova (b. 1985). Russian. Violinist.
Ally Sheedy (b. 1962). American. Actress and writer. At age 12, wrote She Was Nice to Mice, a best-selling novel.
Amy Mbacké Thiam (b. 1976). Senegalese. Athlete who won the gold medal at the 2001 World Championships in Athletics in the 400 meter race.
Amy Schumer (b. 1981). American. Comedian, writer, actor and producer.
Ana Roš (b. ?). Slovenian. Chef.
Anaïs Nin (1903 – 1977 ). French-Cuban. Memoirist and essayist.
Andrea Jung (b. 1958). Canadian-born American. President and CEO of Grameen, the fastest-growing non-profit microfinance organization in America. Formerly first female CEO of Avon.
Anita Hill (b. 1956). American. Lawyer and academic. Brandeis University’s Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women's Studies.
Ann Crittenden (b. ?) American. Journalist, Pulitzer Prize nominee and author of The Price of Motherhood.
Anna Howard Shaw (1847 – 1919). English-American. Physician, ordained minister and suffragist.
Anne Lamott (b. 1954). American. Novelist, non-fiction writer and Guggenheim Fellow.
Anne Tyng (1920 – 2011). Chinese-born American. Architect, professor of morphology and one of the first female graduates of Harvard University's architecture school.
Annie Dillard (b. 1945). American. Writer and 1975 Pulitzer Prize winner for General Non-Fiction.
Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1656). Italian. Baroque painter and first female member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno.
Arundhati Roy (b. 1961). Indian. Writer and political activist. Winner of the 1997 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Augusta Savage (1892 – 1962). American. Sculptor and teacher associated with the Harlem Renaissance. Advocated for equal rights for African-Americans in the arts.
Aung San Suu Kyi (b. 1945). Burmese. Politician, diplomat, author and political prisoner.
I'm not just a feminist ― I'm a feminist-plus. ― Buchi Emecheta
Babe Didrikson Zaharias (1911 – 1956). Norwegian-American. Athlete polymath who excelled in track and field, golf and basketball. after winning two track and field gold medals at the 1932 Olympics, she turned to golf and won ten major LPGA championships.
Barbara Corcoran (b. 1949). American. Businesswoman, investor and syndicated columnist. In 1973, co-founded a real estate business with a $1,000 loan from her boyfriend. Sold the business in 2001 for $66 million.
Barbara Nessim (b. 1939). American. Artist, illustrator and teacher.
Beatrix Potter (1866 – 1943). English. Writer, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her children's books.
Benka Pulko (b. 1967). Slovenian. Writer, photographer and Guinness World Record holder for having been the first woman to travel solo to all seven continents via motorcycle. Her other records include having been the first woman motorcyclist to reach Antarctica and the first woman motorcyclist to ride solo across Saudi Arabia.
Berenice Abbott (1898 – 1991). American. Photographer best-known for portraits of major mid-20th century cultural figures and depictions of New York City architecture and urban design in the 1930's.
Berthe Morisot (1841 – 1895). French. Impressionist painter.
Bette Davis (1908 – 1989). American. Actress.
Blanka Vlašić (b. 1983). Croatian. Athlete specializing in the high jump.
Bronte Campbell (b. 1994). Malawian-born Australian. Athlete. Competitive swimmer who won a gold medal at the 2016 Olympics as part of the 4 X 100 m. freestyle relay team, in which the team set a new world record.
Buchi Emecheta (1944 – 2017). Nigerian-British. Novelist.
I sincerely want peace ― not because I lack resources for war, but because I hate bloodshed. ― CATHERINE II
Caitlin Moran (b. 1975). English. Journalist, novelist, humorist and broadcaster.
Calamity Jane (1852 – 1903). American. Frontierswoman and professional scout.
Candy Crowley (b. 1948). American. Broadcast journalist and news anchor.
Carrie Fisher (1956 – 2016). American. Writer, actor, humorist and mental health advocate.
Caterine Ibargüen (b. 1984). Colombian. Athlete who competes in the long jump, high jump and triple jump. She won a gold medal at the 2016 summer Olympics and a silver medal at the 2012 summer Olympics.
Catherine II (1729 – 1796). German-Russian. Longest-ruling tsarina of Russia. Patron of the arts who presided over the Russian Enlightenment.
Catherine of Siena (1347 – 1380). Italian. Nun, philosopher, theologian and saint.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900 – 1979). British-American. Astronomer and astrophysicist. Used her PhD thesis to propose an explanation for the chemical composition of stars.
Celeste Ng (b. ?). American. Novelist. Winner of a 2012 Pushcart Prize for Short Fiction.
Célestine Hitiura Vaite (b. 1966). Tahitian. Novelist.
Charlotte Brontë (1816 – 1855). English. Poet and novelist. Most famously the author of Jane Eyre.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (b. 1977). Nigerian. Writer and 2008 MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow.
Christine de Pizan (1364 – 1430). French-Italian. Poet and writer.
Christy Wampole (b. ?). Essayist and Princeton University professor.
Cixi (1835 – 1908). Chinese. Empress dowager and regent in the Qing dynasty who effectively ruled the government from 1861 to 1908.
Clarice Lispector (1920 – 1977). Ukrainian-born Brazilian writer.
Cleopatra VII (69 BC – 30 BC). Egyptian. She was the last active ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt. After her reign, Egypt fell under the power of the Roman empire.
Cokie Roberts (b. 1943). American. Journalist, political analyst and writer.
Curtis Sittenfeld (b. 1975). American. Novelist and short story writer.
Cynthia McKinney (b. 1955). American. Politician and activist. 2008 Green Party candidate for the American presidency.
Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked "female." ― DIANA VREELAND
Daphne du Maurier (1907 – 1989). English. Novelist, short story writer and playwright. Several of her stories and novels were adapted into successful movies.
Diana Vreeland (1903 – 1989). French-American. Journalist and long-time editor of Vogue magazine in America.
Diane Arbus (1923 – 1971). American. Photographer and writer noted for her portraits of those essentially living on the margins: transgender people, dwarfs, circus performers and more.
Diane von Fürstenberg (b. 1946). Belgian-born American. Clothing designer and long-time president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Deborah Samson (1760 – 1827). American. Disguised herself as a man to serve 17 months in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. Wounded, honorably discharged and successfully petitioned Congress for a pension like those given to male soldiers.
Dobet Gnahoré (b. 1982). Ivorian. Singer.
Dolores Huerta (b. 1930). American. Labor leader, civil rights activist and co-founder of the National Farmerworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers (UFW). Recipient of many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Doris Lessing (1919 – 2013). Iranian-born English. Novelist, short story writer and librettist. She was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature (2007).
Dorothea von Rodde-Schlözer (1770 – 1825). German. Scholar and first woman to earn a PhD in Germany. Fluent in nine languages by age 16.
Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967). American. Satirist, critic, short story writer and humorist.
Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived nor, I believe, in the long run, denied. ― EUDORA WELTY
Edith Hamilton (1867 – 1963). German-born American. Writer and educator who is generally considered to be the greatest woman classicist. Her books Mythology, The Greek Way and The Roman Way are enduring classics of the genre.
Edna Lewis (1916 – 2006). American. Chef and author best-known for her books about traditional southern American food and cooking.
Ela Bhatt (b. 1933). Indian. Lawyer, organizer and activist. Founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA) in 1972.
Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 – 1204). French. Queen consort of France and England.
Eleanor Holmes Norton (b. 1937). American. Congresswoman, civil rights activist, lawyer. In 1970, represented 60 female Newsweek employees who had filed a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, stating that Newsweek allowed only men to be reporters. The women won the case.
Élisabeth Badinter (b. 1944). French. Philosopher, writer and historian.
Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603). English. Queen of England and Ireland. Last monarch of the Tudor dynasty.
Elizabeth Taylor (1932 – 2011). English-born American. Academy Award-winning actress, HIV/AIDS activist and businesswoman.
Ellen Willis (1941 – 2006). American. Journalist, political essayist, activist and pop music critic.
Émilie du Châtelet (1706 – 1749). French. Physicist, natural philosopher, mathematician and writer.
Emma Albani (1847 – 1930). Canadian. Opera soprano.
Errollyn Wallen (b. 1958). Belizean-British. Composer.
Esther Vergeer (b. 1981). Dutch. Athlete who dominated wheelchair tennis from 1999 through 2013. She won 42 Grand Slam tournaments, 22 year-end championships and seven Paralympic titles.
Eudora Welty (1909 – 2001). American. Short story writer and novelist. Her novel The Optimist's Daughter won the 1973 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980.
Evelyn Glennie (b. 1965). Scottish. Percussionist.
To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind, you draw large and startling figures. ― flannery o'connor
Fabiana Murer (b. 1981). Brazilian. Athlete who holds the South American record for pole vaulting. Gold medal winner in pole vaulting at the 2011 World Championships in Athletics.
Faith Ringgold (b. 1930). American. Artist most noted for her narrative quilts.
Fannie Farmer (1857 – 1915). American. Culinary writer who was the first to publish recipes featuring exact measurements, detailed directions and information on nutrition and sanitation in the kitchen. Her Boston Cooking-School Cook Book remains in print today.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917 – 1977). American. Voting rights activist, civil rights leader and philanthropist.
Flannery O’Connor (1925 – 1964). American. Novelist, short story writer and essayist.
Florynce Kennedy (1916 – 2000). American. Lawyer and civil rights advocate.
Frances Wright (1795 – 1852). Scottish-born American. Abolitionist, writer and social reformer.
Fu Mingxia (b. 1978). Chinese. Youngest-ever world champion in any sport and an Olympic gold medalist at age 13.
Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world. ― grace paley
Gabriela Mistral (1889 – 1957). Chilean. Poet, diplomat and educator. In 1945, the first Latin American to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
George Eliot, born Mary Anne Evans (1819 – 1880). English. Novelist, poet, journalist and translator. Best known for her novels Middlemarch, Adam Bede and Daniel Deronda.
Ginni Rometty. (b. 1957). American. Business executive. President and CEO of IBM, and the first woman to head the company.
Grace Paley (1922 – 2007). American. Writer, teacher and political activist.
Graciela Iturbide (b. 1942). Mexican. Photographer.
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 – 2000). American. Poet and teacher. Won the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the first African-American to be so honored.
Revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the streets, and then they can pick it up. ― HANNAH ARENDT
Halla Tómasdóttir (b. 1968). Icelandic. Business executive and public speaker. In 1998, was one of the founders of Reykjavík University.
Hannah Arendt (1906 – 1975). German-American. Philosopher and political theorist.
Hanya Holm (1893 – 1992). German. Dancer, choreographer and teacher who is generally considered to be one of the founders of American modern dance.
Harriet Hosmer (1830 – 1908). American. Neoclassical sculptor. Generally considered to be the most distinguished American female sculptor of the 19th-century.
Harriet Martineau (1802 – 1876). British. Writer, social theorist, translater and sociologist.
Heather Havrilesky (b. 1970). American. Writer, humorist and columnist.
Hedy Lamarr (1914 – 2000). Austrian-American. Inventor and actress. During WWII, Lamarr and George Antheil developed a radio guidance system, the principles of which are fundamental to modern Wi-Fi, DCMA and Bluetooth technologies.
Helene D. Gayle (b. ?). Physician and CEO of McKinsey Social Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to addressing a wide variety of global and social challenges.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179). German. Benedictine abbess, philosopher and composer.
Hildegart Rodríguez Carballeira (1914 – 1943). Spanish. By age eight, was fluent in six languages. Finished law school at age 17.
By advancing into unknown territories, I entered into my life. ― ISABELLE EBERHARDT
Isabelle Adjani (b. 1955). French. Actress and singer. She is the only person ever to have won five César Awards for Best Actress.
Isabelle Eberhardt (1877 – 1904). Swiss. Explorer, writer and anti-colonialist.
Isobelle Carmody (b. 1958). Australian. Writer.
I'm just trying to matter. ― JUNE CARTER CASH
Jacqueline Cochran (1906 - 1980). American. Aviation pioneer and racing pilot.
Jane Austen (1775 – 1817). English. Novelist.
Jenni Konner (b. 1971). American. Director, writer and producer. Jointly with Lena Dunham, Konner runs a production company and Lenny Letter, an online feminist publication.
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943). Canadian. Singer, songwriter and painter.
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin (1842 – 1924). American. Publisher, journalist, suffragist, civil rights leader and editor of Woman’s Era, the first newspaper published by and for African-American women.
Joy Harjo (b. 1951). Mucogee-American. Poet, musician and women's rights advocate.
Judit Polgár (b. 1976). Hungarian. Became a chess grandmaster at age 15 and from 1989 through 2015, was the world’s highest-ranked woman chess player.
Judith Martin (b. 1938). American. Journalist, etiquette authority and longtime author of the widely-syndicated "Miss Manners" newspaper etiquette column.
Judy Blume (b. 1938). American. Writer whose novels for adolescent readers have been translated into 32 languages.
Julia de Burgos (1914 – 1953). Puerto Rican. Poet and civil rights activist.
Julie Mehretu (b. 1970). Ethiopian. Abstract painter and printmaker.
June Carter Cash (1929 – 2003). American. Singer, songwriter, actress and author.
I was put in this world to change it. ― Käthe KOLLWITZ
Kara Walker (b. 1969). American. Artist best-known for her work as a silhouettist, painter and printmaker.
Katarina Witt (b. 1965). German. Athlete who won gold medals in figure skating at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo and at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. She also won world championships in figure skating in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988.
Käthe Kollwitz (1867 – 1945). German. Painter, sculptor and printmaker. The first woman elected to the Prussian Academy of Arts.
Kyung-Sook Shin (b. 1963). South Korean. Writer and 2011 winner of the Republic of Korea Culture and Arts Award.
it's time for women to stop being politely angry. ―LEYMAH GBOWEE
Laila Lalami (b. 1968). Moroccan-American. Novelist, essayist and 2015 Pulitzer Prize fiction finalist.
Laura Nyro (1947 – 1997). American. Singer and songwriter.
Leila Aboulela (b. 1964). Sudanese-Egyptian. Writer whose work has been translated into 14 languages.
Leontyne Price (b. 1927). American. Soprano opera singer.
Leymah Gbowee (b. 1972). Liberian. Women’s rights activist and a co-winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
Liliʻuokalani (1838 – 1917). Hawai'ian. Queen and last reigning monarch of the kingdom of Hawai'i.
Lillian Hellman (1905 – 1984). American. Playwright, political activist and two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Screenplay.
Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888). American. Novelist and poet.
Lynn Nottage (b. 1964). American. Playwright. She was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2007 MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellow and a 2009 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
Lydia Taft (1712 – 1778). American. First woman to have voted legally in the United States. When her husband and 18-year old son died within two weeks of each other and an important vote loomed regarding support for the French and Indian War, she was allowed to vote at a town meeting in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Her vote is recorded in minutes of the meeting and thus preceded the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution by 164 years.
Women are repeatedly accused of taking things personally. I cannot see any other honest way of taking them. ― MARYA MANNES
M. F. K. Fisher (1908 – 1992). American. Writer and memoirist who wrote 27 books having mostly to do with food, cooking and travel. Her works include a translation of Brillat-Savarin's classic The Physiology of Taste.
Madeleine Albright (b. 1937). Czech-born American. Diplomat and the first woman United States Secretary of State.
Madeleine Dion Stout (b. ?). Cree-Canadian. Writer, nurse and educator on aboriginal and indigenous health.
Malala Yousafzai (b. 1997). Pakistani. Women’s education activist and youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Manal al-Sharif (b. 1979). Saudi Arabian. Activist for the right of Saudi Arabian women to drive.
Marcella Hazan (1924 – 2013). Italian. Chef, scholar, authority on Italian cuisine and cookbook writer.
Margaret C. Anderson (1886 – 1973). American. Founder, editor and publisher of The Little Review.
Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949). American. Journalist and novelist. 1936 winner of the National Book Award and 1937 winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, both for Gone with the Wind.
Margaret Visser (b. 1940). South African. Writer and broadcaster who concentrates mostly on anthropology, history and mythology.
Margarita Forés (b. ?). Filipino. Chef and restaurateur.
Margery Allingham (1904 – 1966). English. Writer of detective fiction.
Maria Tallchief (1925 – 2013). Native American. Generally considered to be the first American prima ballerina. The first major star of the New York City Ballet and later, director of ballet for the Chicago Lyric Opera.
Marija Jurić Zagorka (1873 – 1957). Croatian. First female professional journalist in Croatia.
Marilyn Wann (b. 1966). American. Writer and activist.
Marjane Satrapi (b. 1969). Iranian-French. Graphic novelist, illustrator and film director.
Marlene Dietrich (1901 – 1992). German. Actress, singer and writer.
Martha Beck (b 1962). American. Sociologist and writer.
Martha Gellhorn (1908 – 1998). American. Journalist, war correspondent and novelist.
Mary Cassatt (1844 – 1926). American. Impressionist painter and printmaker.
Marya Mannes (1904 – 1990). American. Writer and critic.
Melinda Gates (b. 1964). American. Philanthropist and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, thought to be the largest transparently-operated private foundation in the world.
Merritt Wever (b. 1980). American. Actress.
Michaela DePrince (b. ?). Sierra Leonean. Ballerina.
Mindy Kaling (b. 1979). Indian-American. Actress, comedian, TV producer and writer.
Miriam Defensor Santiago (1945 – 2016). Filipino. Judge and politician who served in all three branches of the Philippine government: judicial, executive and legislative.
Missy Giove (b. 1972). American. Athlete who is a retired professional downhill mountain biker.
Mona Hatoum (b. 1952). Lebanese-born Palestinian. Video and installation artist.
Murasaki Shikibu (b. c. 973 or 978 – c. 1014). Japanese. Novelist and poet of the Heian period.
The only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet. ― Nadia Comăneci
Nadia Comăneci (b. 1962). Romanian. At age 14, became the first person ever to earn perfect scores in Olympic gymnastics. Went on to win multiple Olympic medals, including three golds in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics.
Nafis Sadik (b. 1929). Indian-born Pakistani. Advocate for the health of women and children. Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary General and Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia.
Namsa Leuba (b. 1982). Swiss-Guinean. Photographer and art director.
Navi Pillay (b. 1941). South African. Jurist and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 through 2014.
Nawal El Saadawi (b. 1931). Egyptian. Writer, social activist and doctor. Founder or co-founder of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association; the Arab Association for Human Rights; the Health Education Association; and the Egyptian Women Writer’s Association.
Nellie L. McClung (1873 – 1951). Canadian. Politician, writer and social activist. In 1927, launched the “Persons Case” with four other women, contending that women are “qualified persons” and therefore eligible to serve in the Canadian senate. The case was won on appeal.
Nora Ephron (1941 – 2012). American. Journalist, film director, screenwriter, novelist, playwright and essayist.
We were already born equal. ― ODETTE HARERIMANA
Odette Harerimana (b. ?). Burundian. Councilor for Ruganirwa, a village on the outskirts of the provincial capital, Muyinga.
Olga Korbut (b. 1955). Belarusian. Athlete who won four gold medals and two silver medals in gymnastics at the 1972 and 1976 Olympics.
Olympe de Gouges (1748 – 1793). French. Playwright, political activist and abolitionist.
Truth is always exciting. ― Pearl S. Buck
Paula Modersohn-Becker (1876 – 1907). German. Important early expressionist painter. She has become recognized as one of the first female painters to regularly paint female nudes.
Pearl S. Buck (1892 – 1973). Chinese-born American. Writer and 1932 Pulitzer Prize winner for her 1931 novel The Good Earth. In 1938, she became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Pelin Çakar (b. ?). Turkish. Chef and restaurateur.
Quvenzhané Wallis (b. 2003). American. At age nine, became the youngest person ever to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award for her role in “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – a role she filmed at age six. Simultaneously, she became the first person born in the 21st century to be nominated for an Academy Award in acting.
Girls are the antibodies to many of society's ills. ― RANIA of JORDAN
Raden Adjeng Kartini (1879 – 1904). Javanese. Women's rights activist, journalist.
Rania of Jordan (b. 1970). Kuwaiti-born Palestinian. Queen consort of Jordan. Advocate for micro-finance, education, literacy and cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue.
Rebecca Solnit (b. 1961). American. Writer and contributing editor at Harper's.
Rebecca Traister (b. 1975). American. Writer and editor.
Rigoberta Menchú (b. 1959). Indigenous K'iche' Guatemalan. Political activist and promoter of indigenous rights. Winner of the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
Rita Dove (b. 1952). American. Poet, Fulbright Scholar and 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner in Poetry.
Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944). American. Essayist, screenwriter and activist.
Rosa Bonheur (1822 – 1899). French. Artist and sculptor.
Roxane Gay (b. 1974). American. Writer, college professor, editor and competitive Scrabble player.
Roza Otunbayeva (b. 1950). Kyrgyz. President of Kyrgyzstan from April 2010 through December 2011. Prior to her presidency, she served as Minister of Foreign Affairs for Kyrgyzstan.
Ruchi Sanghvi (b. 1982). Indian. Computer engineer. First female engineer hired by Facebook.
Ruth Asawa (1926 – 2013). Japanese-American. Sculptor.
Behind every bad law is a deep fear. ― SARAH VOWELL
Saina Nehwal (b. 1990). Indian. Professional badminton singles player who has won over 20 international titles and has represented India at three Olympics, winning a bronze medal in one.
Sakena Yacoobi (b. ?). Afghan. Founder and executive director of the Afghan Institute of Learning (AIL), and Afghan women-led NGO. Advocate for the educational rights of women and children.
Samantha Power (b. 1970). Irish-American. Journalist, human rights advocate, United States Ambassador to the United Nations (2013 – 2017) and 2003 non-fiction Pulitzer Prize winner.
Sandra Boynton (b. 1953). American. Humorist, illustrator, songwriter and greeting card designer.
Sanya Richards-Ross (b. 1985). Jamaican-American. Athlete who won four Olympic gold medals: in the 4 X 400 meter relay at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and in the 400 meters in 2012.
Sarah Breedlove, AKA Madame C. J. Walker (1867 – 1919). American. Business executive and founder of the Madame C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, which made hair and skin products aimed specifically at African-American women. Became the first self-made woman millionaire in America.
Sarah Vowell (b. 1969). American. Writer, social commentator and actress.
Šárka Pančochová (b. 1990). Czech. Athlete who competes in snowboarding, representing the Czech Republic at the 2010 winter Olympics.
Saskia Hölbling (b. 1971). Austrian. Choreographer and dancer.
Shirin Ebadi (b. 1947). Iranian. Lawyer, former judge, human rights activist and founder of the Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran.
Shirin Neshat (b. 1957). Iranian. Artist primarily known for her work in film, video and photography.
Shirley Robertson (b. 1968). Scottish. Sailor. First British woman to win Olympic gold medals at consecutive games (Sydney in 2000 and Athens in 2004).
Sofia Kovalevskaya (1850 – 1891). Russian. Mathematician specializing in partial differential equations and mechanics. First woman appointed to a full professorship in northern Europe and one of the first women to edit a scientific journal.
Suiko (554 – 628). Japanese. First Empress of Japan from 593 to 648 and 33rd monarch of Japan.
Susan Abulhawa (b. 1970). Kuwaiti-born Palestinian-American. Writer and activist.
Sylvia Guillem (b. 1965). French. Ballerina.
You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. ― Thelma Schoonmaker
Tamasin Day-Lewis (b. 1953). English. Chef and food writer.
Tatum O’Neal (b. 1963). American. Actress and writer. Youngest person ever awarded an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Thelma Schoonmaker (b. 1940). Algerian-born American. Film editor and three-time winner of the Academy Award for Best Film Editing.
Tina Fey (b. 1970). American. Writer, TV and film producer and actress.
Toko Shinoda (b. 1913). Japanese. Painter and printmaker.
Toni Morrison. (b. 1931). American. Novelist, editor and professor emeritus at Princeton University. In 1988, Morrison won both the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for her novel Beloved.
I'm going to go fulfill my proper function in the social organism. I'm going to go unbuild walls. ― Ursula K. Le Guin
Udomporn Polsak (b. 1981). Thai. Athlete who won the gold medal in weightlifting at the 2004 Olympics, thus becoming the first Thai woman to win any Olympic gold medal.
Ursula Burns (b. 1958). American-Panamanian. Since 2010, chairman of Xerox. Former CEO of Xerox from 2009 through 2016. First African-American woman CEO to head a Fortune 500 company.
Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929). American. Writer of novels, children’s books, essays and poetry. Winner of many honors, including the National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. ― VICTORIA I
Vanessa Redgrave (b. 1937). English. Actress and activist.
Venus Williams (b. 1980). American. Athlete and professional tennis player who, with her sister Serena, is considered one of the all-time greats in tennis in general, and especially in women's tennis. She has won four Olympic gold medals in singles and one silver medal (in mixed doubles), in addition to seven Grand Slam tennis titles.
Vera Brittain (1893 – 1970). English. Writer, pacifist and nurse.
Victoria I (1819 – 1901). English. Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1837 through 1901.
Viola Davis (b. 1965). American. Actress. She is the first African-American actor to win the "triple crown" of acting: an Emmy, an Academy Award and a Tony.
Violet Keppel Trefusis (1894 – 1972). English. Writer in both English and French.
Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941). English. Novelist, journalist and one of the 20th-century's foremost modernist writers.
Happiness comes from the ability each of us has to come up with convincing responses to our own questions. ― Werewere Liking
Wang Yani (b. 1975). Chinese. One of her paintings was chosen to appear on a postage stamp when she was just eight years old.
Werewere Liking (b. 1950). Cameroonian. Playwright and performer.
Wilma Rudolph (1940 – 1994). American. Athlete and civil rights and women's rights pioneer. Rudolph excelled at track and field sprinting. At the 1960 summer Olympics in Rome, she became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics.
Yaa Asantewaa (1840 – 1921). Akan. Ejisuhene [queen] of Ejisu, now a region in modern Ghana. In 1900, she led the rebellion against British colonialism known as the War of the Golden Stool.
Yarisley Silva (b. 1987). Cuban. Athlete who competes in pole vaulting. She won the silver medal in pole vaulting at the 2012 summer Olympics, becoming the first Latin American woman to win a pole vaulting medal.