Chairlady’s Musings: Phenomenal Women!

Let’s celebrate phenomenal women during Women’s History Month. This list should be at least 100 times longer, as the more I researched the more incredible women I found. I barely scratched the surface.

So, enjoy this little snippet of formidable women that went before us. Feel free to visit the two websites for more.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia)
Nobel Peace Prize winner and Africa’s first woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf gained international recognition as a formidable politician, activist, and economist. She was born in Liberia and studied at Harvard University, later becoming the first democratically elected female head of state of Liberia. As a global leader, Sirleaf has worked to promote peace and social and economic development across the African region.

Maria Merian (1647 – 1717) – German-born naturalist and scientific illustrator and was one of the first naturalists to observe insects directly. Yet, her remarkable discoveries about the metamorphosis of insects were ignored by many scientists.

Katherine Wright, though not a pilot, helped her brothers Orville and Wilbur so much that some called her the “Third Wright Brother”

Mary Anning (1799 – 1847) – When you say the tongue-twister “she sells seashells by the seashore,” you’re actually paying homage to this English fossil hunter! Mary Anning began searching for fossils on the cliffs of Dorset, England, as a means for extra income, but at the age of 12, she made several discoveries that would rock the scientific world: the first known ichthyosaur fossil and the first two plesiosaur skeletons.

Dahomey Amazons (Present day Benin) – This may be a cheating but this list wouldn’t be complete without a group of fearless women. Dahomey’s Women Warriors was comprised of a group of revered all-female fighters from the Dahomey Kingdom who played an essential role in the endless war that ragged across the country. They were also known to take on prominent government roles in the kingdom as well as serving as the king’s royal entourage.

The stories of their fearsome battles and lethal combat and structure are told all over the world. Some even speculate that Black Panther, the 2018 best-selling action movie, was influenced by the well-known force.

Amelia Boynton Robinson, a matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement, was one of the organizers of the famous Selma March known as “Bloody Sunday” which took place 59 years ago today. Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Robinson registered to vote in Alabama in 1934, a difficult feat at the time due to the state’s discriminatory practices, and then spent decades registering African Americans to vote.

Henrietta Leavitt (1868 – 1921) – Today, a computer is a machine, but in Henrietta Leavitt’s day, the term referred to a group of female astronomers who had been hired by Harvard to analyze data from their observatory. She was assigned to look at variable stars: these stars brightened and dimmed at predictable intervals. Using the data provided to her, Leavitt identified and classified over 2,400 of these stars.

Baroness Raymonde de Laroche of France ignored those who ignorantly claimed that only men possessed the physical strength or the mental capacity to pilot an airplane, and in 1910 became the first woman awarded a license to fly.

Alice Ball (1892 – 1916) – In her short life, African-American chemist Alice Ball revolutionized treatment for leprosy. Ball was the first woman and first African American to receive a Master’s degree at the University of Hawaii. Ball developed a way to isolate the active ingredients of chaulmoogra oi, allowing them to be injected.