Although oppressed and suppressed, women from the twentieth century could never be silenced. They were never given the rights they deserved on a silver platter, but instead fought for what was theirs without heeding the illegal consequences that could befall them. Swimming against the current can’t be easy, but these 8 women who changed history weren’t paying attention to difficulty. They just kept their eyes on the prize and kept pushing and shoving. Whether we’re talking about picketing at the White House, joining the army, standing up to authority, taking on men’s jobs after they had left for war or simply demanding their rights, women fought for what they believed in and kept their chins up for conquering the world.
1. American suffragette protesting after the “Night of Terror”
In 1917 the National Woman’s Party (NWP) started picketing at the White House for women’s rights. Their protests begun in January, after president Woodrow Wilson took office. The suffragettes burned copies of Wilson’s speeches and seemed relentless in their protests. Some were arrested in June under the pretext of “obstructing traffic”. After their release, when they started picketing again, they were rearrested on November 14. Over 30 NWP suffragettes were tortured and beat by superintendent W.H. Whittaker. The prisoners were given rancid food, medical care was denied and they were placed in solitary confinement and force-fed when they went on a hunger strike. Two weeks later, a hearing declared the women had been illegally imprisoned and they were released.
2. Margaret Hamilton, lead software engineer of the Apollo Project
Margaret Heafield Hamilton’s work prevented the crash of the Apollo Moon landing in 1969. When various alarms were triggered three minutes before Apollo reached the surface of the Moon, the computer was overloaded with tasks and only kept the most important ones rolling. Hamilton said that if the software couldn’t have identified the issue and proceeded to fix it, Apollo 11 would’ve been a disaster.
3. Anna Lee Fisher, the first mother in space
With a bachelor of science in chemistry, a medicine degree and a master of science in chemistry from UCLA, Anna Lee Fisher became a trained astronaut in 1979. Five years later she would become a mission specialist on STS-51A. Aboard Discovery, the members’ mission was to deploy two satellites as well as recover a couple others whose motors had failed. She became the first mother in space, logging 192 of hours in space.
4. “Pistol Packin’ Mama” female pilots
In this photo Frances Green, Margaret Kirchner, Ann Waldner and Blanche Osborn are carrying their parachute as they just get off their B-17, also known as Pistol Packin’ Mama, at an Air Force in Ohio. Facing a pilot shortage in 1942, the USA trained women to operate aircraft so that men could go overseas for combat duties. Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP, proved women could fly as well as men after over one thousand young women volunteered to learn to fly the military planes.
5. Maud Wagner, first well know female tattooist in the USA
Born in 1877, Maud Stevens Wagner was a circus performer and became the first famous female tattoo artist in America. An aerialist and contortionist, she learned everything about tattooing from her husband, Gus Wagner, and they both passed their passion for tattooing to their daughter, Lotteva. The Wagner family practiced traditional “hand poked” tattoos, boycotting modern machines.
6. Kathrine Switzer, first woman to run the Boston Marathon
In 1967 women were not officially allowed to participate in the Boston Marathon. Switzer registered with the Syracuse Harriers club and finished the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, under the name “K. V. Switzer”, which was later deemed a mistake by those in charge with the marathon. During the race, Jock Semple, the contest’s official, tried to shove Kathrine out of the race, but was stopped by her husband, who was running beside her.
7. Marina Ginesta, 17 year old communist militant
As a French veteran of the Spanish civil war, Marina Ginesta worked as a reporter and translator for Mikhail Koltsov, a correspondent for “Pravda”, a soviet newspaper. The photograph that made Ginesta world famous was taken in 1936, on top of Hotel Colon in Barcelona, by Juan Guzman. Ginesta was wounded before the war end and had to be evacuated to Montpellier.
8. Gertrude Ederle, first woman to swim across the English Channel
Nicknamed “Queen of the waves”, Gertrude Caroline Ederle was the sixth human to swim the English Channel. She was 20 years old when she set a new record, crossing the English Channel from Cape Gris-Nez in France to the UK in 14 hours and 34 minutes. Once she set foot on the beach at Kingsdown, England, an immigration officer asked her for her passport. Back in New York she was greeted by more than two million people.