As today is International Women’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to post about some of the great women who inspire me. Due to the focus of this blog, I’ve decided to stick to women in the fields of literature and science. So let’s get started!
Women in Literature
Malorie Blackman 1962- : She writes literature for children and young adults that contain pretty heavy social and ethical issues such as racism, violence, and love. Her Noughts and Crosses series was both eye opening and heartbreaking; I cried multiple times when reading this series, once on the bus home from school! Blackman was also the Children’s Laureate between 2013-2015. I regard this as a particularly significant achievement as it’s a title I hope to one day receive (I better hurry up with writing some children’s books then!)
Jeanette Winterson 1959- : Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit was the first book I read that focused on same sex relationships. It made a lasting impression on me because I found it to be so honest and sincere, considering that it’s semi-autobiographical. I can totally see why this novel is inspiring and comforting to girls who are discovering their sexual identity and/or are struggling against conventional values.
Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896: She was an American abolitionist who wasn’t afraid to write about the horrors of the slave trade, even if it ruffled a lot of people’s feathers. She wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin because she wanted to educate people about slavery and she campaigned tirelessly to win the freedom of slaves. She strongly believed that people should always speak out for humanity, stating that: “I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” These are words I try to live by.
Leila Marouane 1960- : Marouane is an Algerian author who is currently living in exile in France due to the brutally honest novels she writes about her country of origin. She freely criticises Algerian politics, the misuse of Islam, and female oppression, in a cheeky and humorous way. Being half Algerian myself, I am fascinated by Marouane’s take on Algerian culture and tradition, and she has inspired me to learn more about my heritage.
Women in Science
Rosalind Franklin 1920-1958: Poor Rosalind was royally screwed over by Watson and Crick during their discovery of the structure of DNA. Without her they wouldn’t have had the X-ray images of DNA in the first place. Watson and Crick won the Nobel prize for their DNA discovery in 1962 and didn’t credit or acknowledge her contribution at all. She will forever be my favourite female scientist because she acts as a constant reminder to keep achieving regardless of whether or not you receive recognition.
Ada Lovelace 1815-1852: Lovelace was a mathematician and is often regarded as the first computer programmer. She worked on the “Analytical Engine” (a mechanical general-purpose computer) with computer pioneer Charles Babbage, and wrote, what is seen as, the first algorithm for the machine. Today, most people regard programming as a male dominated field, so I find it very interesting that the birth of this subject started with a woman. Hopefully Ada’s contribution to maths and programming can inspire other women to be involved in these fields.
Mary Anning 1799-1847: She was a palaeontologist and fossil hunter who is credited with piecing together the marine fossil world of the Jurassic period. She didn’t have much formal education so she taught herself anatomy, geology, palaeontology, and scientific illustration, which is incredibly impressive! Being a woman meant that she wasn’t particularly welcomed within the scientific community, but that didn’t stop her from going out and making massive fossil discoveries (she found the first Ichthyosaurus and Plesiosaurus skeletons to name a few).
Mae Jemison 1956- : Jemison is well known for being the first black woman to have gone into space, but her achievements are many and varied. As well as being an astronaut, Jemison holds a degree in chemical engineering, she’s also a qualified physician and an avid dancer. On top of all that she also served in the Peace Corps, and she’s been an actress on an episode of Star Trek: TNG (since I’m a Star Trek fan, I think this is a pretty big deal). Currently, Jemison is a university professor who strongly advocates science education. She’s just an incredibly talented and inspiring woman!
I would like to end this post by mentioning the amazing, strong, smart, kind women who have all (in some way, however small) shaped me into the person I am today. These women (my friends, my teachers, my sister, my mother) are daily inspirations. Even though there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of equality between the genders, I hope this post has shown that there are already many examples of astounding women who act as inspiration to all!
So who are some of the women that inspire you? Feel free to leave a comment and happy International Woman’s Day to you!