I strongly dislike ‘introducing’ a new series, as life inevitably happens, and we have to stop, or change direction. Just as I’m getting into the swing of a new theme, the kids decide they don’t love it, and we have to do something different – and since we’re all about being child-led in our home education, that can be a bit of a problem, but here I am, none-the-less, introducing a new series here on the blog. It’s called Women Who Did and it’s all about the women who’ve come before us and made our world and our lives what it is today, whether we knew about it or not .

Why Women Who Did? 

A few years ago I saw a bracelet come up in my timeline on Facebook, and it ‘spoke’ to me. I bought it that day and have worn it every day since. It catches my eye often and it gives me strength when I need it. I’ve since written it’s message on my wall where I can see it every day, and my girls will brush a thumb over it from time to time, when they too, need strength.

I’ve come to the conclusion that women and men both can be strong or weak. Your gender has nothing to do with it, but who you are, and what you do, has everything to do with it.

I also believe that we live in an incredible time. Maybe the best time in history to be a woman or a child.  The information age has given us a wonderful gift. Books about women in science, women in sport, women in history all abound, and I think it’s time our daughters – and our sons – learn about some of these people and see them for the impact they made in our world. And just browse the shelves of a children’s section of a bookshop and you’ll see there are a lot of people who feel this way.

So this year, for a start, our learning at home will focus around women who changed our world. My hope is that my girls will walk away from this learning with no doubt about their ‘role’ as women in our world, and that they will see themselves – not as greater than or even equal to anyone else, but rather as limited only by their own minds, and hopefully, eventually, as not limited at all.

This year my girls and I are going to start by looking at:

  • Amelia Earhart
  • Frida Kahlo
  • Isadora Duncan
  • Jackie Joyner-Kersee
  • Anne Frank
  • Mary Cassatt
  • Jane Goodall
  • Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan
  • Malala Yousafzai
  • Rosalind Franklin
  • Maya Angelou
  • Mother Teresa

Women Who Did

I asked other bloggers on a Facebook page recently who their female heroes (or should-be-heroes) are, and here are some of the names that came up:

  • Irena Sendler. She was a Polish nurse/social worker who used her papers to smuggle thousands of jewish children out of Poland during world war 2. She wrote their names on pieces of tissue and put them in bottles which she buried to keep them hidden so that they might be reunited after the war. I think she was incredibly brave.  – Mummy and Moose
  • Ffyona Campbell …a true warrior with a passion for living life her way – a long distance walker , she spent 3 months living with Aborigines she now lives in Devon teaching others how to be Hunter Gatherers – Brummie Gal In Cardiff 
  • Ada Lovelace. We wouldn’t be able to blog without her influential thinking on the first ever computer!  – You’ve Got All This To Come 
  • Hedy Lamarr – she’s more well known for being a beautiful actress rather than her contributions to science such as some principles used in Bluetooth technology. – Raising A Ragamuffin
  • Betsi Cadwaladr – a working class woman from very humble beginnings who went to nurse soldiers in the Crimean War despite being rejected by Florence Nightingale and the establishment (largely for being Welsh – not thought of highly at that time). She wasn’t trained but made a huge contribution and led quite a life! – Welsh Mum Writing
  • Rosa Parks is dubbed as the mother of the freedom movement and the first lady of civil rights. I highly admire her because she stood up for her right even if it led to her arrest – My Parenting Journey
  • This is mega cheesy but Frida Kahlo. I actually studied her as part of my art degree back in the day (20+ yrs ago!!) She lived with such fierce self assurance, she was respected by her more famous male peers…. the Surrealists, Trotsky…..she was talented, and fearless and so so ahead of her time. this is no word of lie but i used to darken my top lip and between my eyebrows in uni because i loved her so much. I loved that she didn’t adhere to conventional beauty standards either. Bring on the monobrow! – Mrs Helicopter
  • Barbara Harmer – left school at 15 to become a hairdresser went onto become Concordes first female British Pilot! ✈️ . Also , Violette Szabo worked for the Special Operations Executive during WW2 was captured by the Nazis and they extracted all her fingernails and teeth and she still wouldn’t give away any British secrets – she was put before the firing squad and shot. She was one of only 3 women to receive the George Cross (posthumous) during wartime – Happy Mummy
  • Emmeline Pankhurst. Everybody should use their right to vote! – The Money Whisperer
  • She’s very famous actually but I’ve always admired Emmeline Pankhurst (suffragette). If I’d been around, I’d have been right by her side. Not enough people use their right to vote and it’s so frustrating…  –Virtually Allsorts
  • Dr Audrey Evans, a pioneer in the study and treatment of childhood cancer. She is also the co-founder of the Ronald McDonald House, giving endlessly to children and families suffering from this terrible illness. She has changed the face of medicine and an inspirational living hero! – Mummy Wishes
  • I love dinosaurs and Mary Anning is not well enough known for my liking! I heard about her in Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World but she was a fossil collector from Dorset and her findings helped us understand more about the earths history and she discovered the first Ichthyosaurs skeleton, and the first pterosaur skeleton outside Germany – Readaraptor Hatchling
  •  As an aspiring radiotherapist (currently applying to Uni’s!) I’d have to say Marie curie – discoverer of radium and polonium and pioneer in the fight against cancer! 💪🏻 Also Rosa Parks who was an activist in the Civil Rights Movement, whom the United States Congress called “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement” – Dancing Dandelions 
  • Katherine Johnson, a physicist who began her career as one of NASA’s first computers – she was part of the team responsible for calculating the results of wind tunnel tests. Her story and that of the other black woman at NASA at the time is fascinating. Not only did they face prejudice because they were black but also because they were women in a scientific field dominated by men. She was responsible for calculating the trajectory for the first American in space and her mathematical theory helped ensure the success of getting the Apollo to land on the moon! – Amy Treasure 
  • Mentioned before but Emmeline Pankhurst (amongst many) is my idol. We named our youngest daughter Emmeline in her honour. Her passion and strength was incredible and without her persistence we wouldn’t have moved on in terms of equality. I imagine that our Emmeline is as stubbornly independent as Ms. Pankhurst ❤ – Living With A Jude 
  • My daughter got an awesome book for Christmas called ‘Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls’ and it has some amazing women in it. I was taken by the story of Alfonsina Strada, an Italian cyclist who was the first lady to ride in a big race in Italy in 1924 (they thought she was a man!) they found out she was female and then barred her from competing the following year, but she did it anyway and set a record that was unbeaten for 26 years on a bike that only had gear. A true life story of ‘she believed she could and she did’! My 5 year old is fascinated! – Maidenhead Mum

Who would you add to this list?


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