International Women’s Day (8th March) – 5 of education’s most influential women

International Women’s Day (8th March) – 5 of education’s most influential women

There are so many strong women role models today and that is reflected through history (far too many to list!) so we have picked out five gifted people who have helped, and in some cases, are still helping to change lives for women all over the world with their actions and ideas. Happy International Women’s Day!


Ida B Wells (1862 – 1961)

Ida B Wells

Wells became an orphan at the age of 16, this following a childhood in slavery. She was forced to support herself and her siblings by gaining a teaching job after pretending she was older than she actually was. She put herself through university and eventually became a writer, a political activist on racial injustice and editor of her own news publication. She was a major part in the American suffrage movement.


Malala Yousafzai (1996 -)

Malala Yousafzai

Born in Pakistan, Yousafzai is the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to her in 2014 when she was aged just 17. Her emotional diary brought her to public attention when it was published on BBC Urdu, she wrote about her desire to remain in the education system and for other girls to have the choice to continue to be educated. In 2012, she survived a shot to the head from a Taliban gunman, the coverage of her recovery in the UK helped lead to a platform on which she globally campaigns for education for females.


Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941)

Virginia Woolf

An English feminist, writer and all-round intellectual, Woolf wrote notably about the lack of access for women to learned professions such as academia, law and medicine. She also wrote about the limitations found when gifted women attempted to join establishments such as Oxford and Cambridge, her writing and campaigning would change admissions processes and levels of equality throughout the 20th century.


Mary Wollstonecraft (1759 – 1797)

Mary Wollstonecraft

An early advocate of women’s rights, Wollstonecraft was a writer and philosopher best known for her published work ‘A Vindication Of The Rights Of Woman’ in 1792. In the book, she argues that women are not naturally inferior to men but they do appear to be, only because they are not offered the same education opportunities as the men. It remains one of the earliest known works of feminist philosophy.


Joan Clarke (1917 – 1996)

Joan Clarke

Whilst not a leader for education as such, Clarke was the only female cryptanalyst directly involved in breaking Nazi Germany’s infamous Enigma code during World War II, working alongside Alan Turing to help end the conflict. She fought to get to the position of deputy head of Hut 8 (Turing’s hut), even though she was not officially awarded her first class Mathematics degree from Cambridge due to the sexism and inequalities of the time.

Can you think of any strong female leaders to add to the list? Who inspires you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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