Unsung Sheroes: Women Who Pioneered

From activists to mathematicians, these trailblazers should be on your must-know list.

Unsung Sheroes: Women Who Pioneered (Getty Images)

Women have been fiercely underrepresented, discriminated against and unheard of for centuries. Some of today’s most pressing issues against women include the pay gap, reproductive rights, and education. However, revolutionary women have changed today’s world. 

Women in empires from hundreds of years ago influenced laws, advised their emperor husbands and made incredible advances. In recent years: Marie Curie risked it all for science; Jacinda Arden, a former Prime Minister of New Zealand; and Michelle Kwan, an Olympic figure skater. These women are names we’ve come to know but there are plenty of unsung heroes in our history.  

Mary Cartwright 

Mary Cartwright was an amazing mathematician who worked with differential equations and function theory. She made integral advances in the study, helping pioneer today’s chaos theory but is unheard of.  

Patsy Mink 

In 1964, Patsy Mink was the first woman of color to be elected into Congress. She served 12 terms as a state representative for Hawaii, paving the way for other women to join her in Congress. Shortly after her election Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman in Congress was elected into the house. 

Dolores Huerta 

Standing alongside Ceaser Chavez, Dolores Huerta was a champion for farm workers’ rights leading to better outcomes for farm workers. Dolores Huerta has been an activist for many causes such as LGBTQ, women’s rights, and immigrant rights. 

Bessie Coleman

According to the National Women’s History Museum, Bessie Coleman was the first African American and Native American woman to have a flying license in the U.S. She was discriminated against by being born post-Civil War. She went to a French flying school where women were allowed to learn how to fly. Her dream was to inspire women and African Americans to strive for their goals just as she did. 

Henrietta Lacks

Henrietta Lacks was an African American woman whose cervical cancer cells, known as HeLa cells, were taken without her consent in 1951 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Her cells became pivotal in medical research, leading to numerous scientific breakthroughs such as the development of the polio vaccine and advancements in cloning and gene mapping. This raised ethical concerns, sparking discussions about patient rights in medical research, especially since such revolutionary work was done without patient knowledge. 

Ayushree Dahal (she/her) is a Bay Area-based journalist.

Edited by Nykeya Woods

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