Women have been making history for centuries, yet their achievements are often overshadowed or forgotten. It’s time to resurface these stories and celebrate the amazing accomplishments of women throughout history. From groundbreaking discoveries to heroic feats of courage, here are 19 facts about women’s history that deserve more recognition.
Women Weren’t Allowed at the Olympics
Only men participated in the first Olympics, held without women or girls. However, there were separate Games of Hera, which occurred every four years and featured footraces for women.
Surprisingly, women were not allowed to watch the Olympic games, and their participation in athletics was generally discouraged, except for the Spartans. The fact that the Games of Hera existed is remarkable, considering women’s limited involvement. Initially, these games only included footraces for women.
A Woman Once Beat Babe Ruth in Baseball
A female pitcher, Virne “Jackie” Mitchell, achieved a historic milestone by becoming the first woman to play baseball professionally. Although women’s representation in baseball is still limited today, Mitchell’s performance showcased that women could compete at a high level.
She notably struck out both Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in an exhibition game once. Regrettably, her remarkable success prompted baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to impose a ban on women in the sport later that year.
A Woman Traveled the World in 72 Days
Journalist Nellie Bly achieved a remarkable feat in the late 1800s by completing an around-the-world journey in just seventy-two days, a significant accomplishment before the invention of airplanes.
Bly is also known for her exposé on mental institutions, for which she had to feign psychological illness to gain access.
A Woman Warned More About the British Than Paul Revere
In 1777, sixteen-year-old Sybil Ludington played a crucial role during the Revolutionary War by racing through the night to warn New York patriots about a British attack on nearby Danbury, CT.
Despite Paul Revere’s better-known nighttime ride, Ludington covered twice the distance, aiding the troops in preparing for and repelling the British attack.
The First Woman to Become Prime Minister Was in 1960
The first woman to be elected as a country’s leader in the modern era was Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka, who became prime minister in 1960 and was re-elected in 1970.
Although she remains one of the few female heads of state, recent elections in various countries, including Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Lithuania, and Gabon, indicate a growing number of female leaders.
A Woman Once Went Over Niagara Falls in a Barrel
In 1901, a forty-three-year-old teacher from Michigan named Annie Edson Taylor undertook the first recorded attempt to navigate Niagara Falls in a wooden barrel.
Although she emerged with only a minor head injury, Taylor pledged never to embark on such a daring venture again.
Makeup Was Once Banned as It Was Thought to Be Witchcraft
In 1770, a bill proposing punishment for women using makeup as witchcraft was presented to the British Parliament.
During this period, makeup was frowned upon due to its perceived effects on men, and women using scents, makeup, wigs, or other cosmetics were believed to be engaging in the devil’s work by inciting lustfulness.
Women Were Once Excluded from Obstetrics
Until 1846, obstetrics was a female-dominated field. However, most medical colleges decided to exclude women, and the American Medical Association barred them, making it difficult for young women to pursue a medical career. Today, obstetrics is once again a female-dominated field.
The Bloomer Was Named After a Suffrage Movement Member
Although Amelia Jenks Bloomer did not invent the bloomer, she popularized this new article of clothing in the early 1850s, aiming to help women be more active and unrestricted in their movement.
Despite the ridicule, Bloomer remained an active member of the suffrage movement throughout her life.
A Woman Played a Pivotal Role in the Development of Apple Macintosh
Susan Kare played a significant role in developing interface elements for Apple Macintosh. Despite the misconception that women have played a minor role in computer technology, Kare contributed to developing the early Mac icons.
After leaving Apple in the 1980s, she continued to innovate in new technologies and design improvements.
Some Well-Known Female Authors Are Actually Pen Names
In times when it was considered inappropriate for women to contribute to literature, many female authors wrote under pen names. Notable examples include Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), and Louisa May Alcott.
A Woman Invented Windshield Wipers
In 1903, Mary Anderson received a patent for the windshield wiper, which later became a standard feature in cars by 1916.
She is not the only inventive woman. Others have created industrial lathes, white out, bras, non-reflective glass, dishwashers, disposable diapers, petroleum refining methods, and many other innovations.
The Most Significant Contributors to Blues Music Have Been Women
From 1910 to 1925, the majority of blues singers were women, challenging common perceptions of the genre. Recent research reveals that women were among the most significant contributors to blues music.
The Only Woman Pharaoh in Egypt Was One of the Most Powerful
Hatshepsut, the only recorded female pharaoh in ancient Egypt, was one of the most powerful women in the ancient world. Despite her favorable reign, her images were defaced on temples and inscriptions, seemingly in an attempt to erase her from history.
A Suffragist Was the First Woman to Win a Nobel Peace Prize
Jane Addams, known for her work with the Hull House, became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Her contributions as a public philosopher, writer, leader, and suffragist make her one of the most influential women in American history.
Women’s Rights Activist Susan B. Anthony Was Never Able to Vote
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony dedicated their lives to the fight for women’s suffrage but did not live to see the Amendment granting them the right to vote. Stanton passed away in 1902, and Anthony passed away in 1906, several years before women achieved the right to vote.
The Earliest Recorded Female Physician Was in 2700 B.C.
Merit Ptah, a doctor in ancient Egypt around 2700 B.C., holds the title of the earliest recorded female physician. Many historians believe she is the first woman recorded by name in the history of all sciences, highlighting her remarkable achievement.
The First Woman to Vote Was in 1756
During America’s colonial period in 1756, Lydia Chapin Taft became the first woman to vote legally with the electorate’s consent.
Although women did not generally gain this privilege until 1920, Taft was allowed to vote due to her husband’s influential position following his death right before a major town vote.
Betsy Ross May Not Have Made the First American Flag
While Betsy Ross is credited as a notable flagmaker, there is little evidence to suggest she made the first American flag. The story of her creating the flag emerged years after her death, and it remains uncertain whether she played a direct role in its design and creation.
So, after discovering these fascinating facts, it’s clear that women have done some incredible things that we might not hear about every day.
Whether it’s making history, being inventive, or showing bravery, women have shaped our world in often overlooked ways. By recognizing and appreciating these stories, we celebrate the lasting influence of women who have paved the way for others.
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