Kickass Women

History is filled with women doing all kinds of kickass stuff. Heck, the present is as well. Scientist, surgeons, celebrities and sports stars -- it's my life's goal to uncover the stories of the many women who've done incredible things, and then share them here. It's my hope that by reading these posts, you'll have learned a bit more about the wonderful women who've dedicated their lives to making the world a bit better, and be inspired to go out there and do your own amazing thing.

Happy Birthday - Septima Poinsette Clark
Septima Poinsette was born on May 3, 1898, in Charleston, South Carolina. Her father had been born a slave, and worked as a caterer after the Civil War. Her mother was born free in Charleston, but was taken to Haiti during the Civil War. After the war, she worked as a launderer, but did not work for whites, and refused to let her daughters work in white houses...

Happy Birthday - Geraldine Doyle
Today would have been the 90th birthday of Geraldine Hoff Doyle. If you don't know who she was, don't feel too bad. I only heard of her recently myself. If she looks familiar, it's because she was very likely the model for the "We Can Do It!" poster.

Women's History Month - Charlotta Bass
Charlotta Amanda Spears Bass was born in Sumter, South Carolina (the year is unclear, some sources say 1874, some day 1879, or even 1880). She was the sixth child out of eleven children. Very little is known about her early life. When she was twenty, she moved to Providence, Rhode Island, to live with her brother. There, she took a position working for the Providence Watchman...

Ruth Roessel - Navajo teacher and author
As a teacher and author, Ruth Roessel played an influential role in the lives of several generations of Navajo students. Drawing on her experiences in the limitations of the education system that removed native children from their culture and yet left them unprepared for careers after college, she worked hard to improve and revise the educational opportunities for her community ...

Unsung Women of Chemistry
A couple of weeks ago, I saw this really great video being passed around. Mary Sherman Morgan, Alice Ball, and Rachel Lloyd were all chemists whose work has fundamentally changed the way we live, and yet their stories were all but lost to us. I wanted to know more not just about these women scientist, but about the folks who took the time to make and share this video.

Happy Birthday - Dr. Dorrit Hoffleit
During World War II, she went to work at the Aberdeen Proving Ground ballistics laboratory in Maryland. Not unlike many women working for the war effort, she was forced to take a position below her status while she watched men who had less experience take higher level jobs. Frustrated that women weren't getting the training they needed and the promotions they deserved...

Charlotte Moore Sitterly - Astrophysicist
This humble daughter of Quaker teachers went on to become one of the most important researchers in astronomy, with her works continuing to benefit science even now. As a student at Swathmore College, she took a wide range of classes to expose herself to as much knowledge as possible. When it came time to pick a major, though, she went with the department in which she'd taken the most classes, which was Mathematics. And it's lucky for us that she did.

Rachel Fuller Brown -- scientist and advocate
When she was fourteen, Rachel Fuller Brown dropped out of school to pursue a degree at a vocational school with the intention of helping to support her family. Her father had abandoned them and she and her mother and brother were struggling to get by. Fortunately for all of us, her mother put her foot down and forced her to return to to her studies, insisting that her own daughter would attend college and earn the degree she never could.

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 4
Some time ago I came across this photo while doing some research about women in sports. I just love this kind of action shot. I know just enough about track and field events to know that this is the high jump, and that she's hit the bar. She's clearly giving it her all, and while the camera angle could be better, I don't think it was set up this way to be scandalous, but rather to juxtapose her activity with the elegant calm of the people seated behind her. Sadly, where I found it there was no indication of who this woman was or where this photo was taken.

Senda Berenson Abbott - the Mother of Women's Basketball
Senda was born in 1868, in Vilna, Lithuania. Her parents moved to the United States when she was seven. She was a frail child, often sick, and she spent much of her childhood at home. She did not encounter many opportunities for physical activity until she was already an adult. Those she did, she probably lacked the requisite muscle tone and ability to pursue. It wasn't until she was forced to leave off her studies at the Boston Conservatory for Music for the second time due to her health that she sought help.

SRPS Shout-Out - Althea Gibson
"Shaking hands with the Queen of England was a long way from being forced to sit in the colored section of the bus going into downtown Wilmington, North Carolina." "I want the public to remember me as they knew me: athletic, smart, and healthy.... Remember me strong and tough and quick, fleet of foot and tenacious."

Eliza Ann Grier - the first black woman to receive a MD in Georgia
Very little is known about her early life. She was born during the Civil War. Her parents were slaves in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, which made her a slave as well. After emancipation, her family moved to Atlanta, where she grew up and attended school. She originally intended to become a teacher, and attended Fisk University.

Today in Herstory - Elizabeth Blackwell receives her M.D.
On January 23, 1848, Elizabeth Blackwell was awarded her M.D. by the Geneva Medical College of Geneva, New York, becoming the United States' first female doctor.

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space!
Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina in space. But that's only one of her many achievements in her career with NASA. She grew up at a time when space exploration was just beginning. She excelled in school, in both the arts and sciences, but as as a girl she never dreamed of becoming an astronaut herself. She actually thought she'd grow up to be a professional musician. It wasn't until her friends encouraged her to take a closer look at Physics as an option.

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 2
To encourage more young Latinas to pursue a career in STEM, it's important tell the stories of those who've come before them. Representation matters! As Dr. Patricia Gándara, The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, says in this excellent video from the Eva Longoria Foundation, "there is often a lack of role models in these communities -- somebody who has already gone to college and been pretty successful in one area or another."

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 3
As Michelle Madsen Camacho and Susan M. Lord note in their study and the follow up book, The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering, the low number of Latinas in STEM fields, and engineering in particular, is a matter of recruiting them in the first place. When a latina considers a degree in engineering, she has to be the one to show up to class after class filled with people who do not share her background.

Latin@ Heritage Month - Latinas in Space 4
Laurie Y. Carrillo is a Materials Engineer, currently conducting thermal analysis to support the development of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, NASA's next generation spacecraft. She creates computer models to simulate the heating of a spacecraft from internal systems and external environment heating. For this, she uses her knowledge of orbital mechanics, heat transfer, materials, programming, and applied mathematics.


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