100 Most Important Women in History

How many of these influential women can you identify?
Based on this article
This article seems to rank these women by some combination of accomplishment and influence.
This quiz is difficult. Can you beat my initial score of 21/100?
Quiz by QuantumMechanist
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Last updated: January 14, 2021
First submittedJanuary 13, 2021
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100
Considered the first prominent female Punjabi writer. Best known for the poem Ajj aakhaan Waris Shah nu ("Ode to Waris Shah").
Amrita Pritam
99
Australian swimmer considered "the forerunner of modern synchronized swimming". Greatly influenced swimming as a sport.
Annette Kellerman
98
Nigerian novelist best known for her book The Joys of Motherhood. Often covered themes of female independence in her works.
Buchi Emecheta
97
French mathematician known for translating Newton's Principia into French and proposing a law of conservation of total energy and derivation of a quantifiable kinetic energy.
Emilie du Châtelet
96
German composer who created Easter Sonata (initially incorrectly attributed to her brother along with many other works).
Fanny Mendelssohn
95
French volcanologist known for edging human survival limits in her research endeavors. Through her and her brother's recordings and other evidence, she was able to convince many authorities to evacuate after volcanic eruptions.
Katia Krafft
94
The first female professional balloonist (and the first woman to die in an aviation accident).
Sophie Blanchard
93
American writer, filmmaker, and activist. Known for her essay, "Notes on 'Camp'". Wrote about photography, AIDS, human rights, communism, and many other hot topics.
Susan Sontag
92
Tibetan princess known as the female Buddha for her influence on the development of Buddhism.
Yeshe Tsogyal
91
Known in many Islamic works as "Mother of the Believers". Muhammed's final wife and great influencer on Islam. Narrated 2,210 hadiths, both historical and proverbial, and gave inspiring speeches to troops in The Battle of the Camel against Ali.
Aisha
90
Great writer who co-authored the book A Monetary History of the United States: 1867-1960, which faulted the American Federal Reserve System for the Great Crash of 1929 and ultimately the Great Depression, regarded as the most influential account of the great depression.
Anna Jacobson Schwartz
89
Nicknamed "Lady Edison" due to her innovations. Invented many machines and products that helped in the mass production of various products, and best known for inventing the typewriting machine, the can opener, and several sewing machines.
Beulah Louise Henry
88
Distinguished German pianist prodigy who was featured on the 100 Deutsche Marc until the adoption of the Euro.
Clara Schumann
87
The only woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics (until 2018), earned for demonstrating how commonly-owned properties can be used cooperatively.
Elinor Ostrom
86
Founded her own eponymous cosmetics company and became one of the richest self-made women in history.
Estée Lauder
85
Dutch track and field athlete who won four Olympic gold medals in 1948. Helped dismantle the myth that being a mother and an athlete are mutually exclusive.
Fanny Blankers-Koen
84
English satirical novelist best known for Evelina. Her works offer insight into high 1700's English society.
Fanny Burney
83
Welsh Artist unappreciated in her lifetime. Since her death, her popularity has greatly increased.
Gwen John
82
Appointed first commander of the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps. Oversaw the expansion of the organization before leaving to become the commander of the Women's Royal Air Force.
Helen Gwynne-Vaughan
81
One of the first professional English Footballers, posthumously an LGBT icon in sports.
Lily Parr
80
One of the few women who fought for Russia in WWI and did not hide their gender. After the first Russian Revolution, she was made commander of the first all-female Battalion of Death.
Maria Bochkareva
79
Japanese Novelist born in the 10th century. Best known for her novel The Tale of Genji.
Murasaki Shikibu
78
Co-founder of Mattel, which would go on to produce and sell her creation, the Barbie doll.
Ruth Handler
77
Indian freedom fighter and poet. The first woman to be President of the Indian National Congress and to be appointed governor of an Indian State. Played a leading role in the civil disobedience movement in Colonial India.
Sarojini Naidu
76
Norwegian Figure skater who became the first woman figure skater to wear her skirt above the knee, enabling her to excel in the sport and win three Olympic gold medals. Became a Hollywood actor later in life.
Sonja Henie
75
The first black woman to make a major impact on international Track and Field. Won three Olympic gold medals and went on to ambassadorial work in Africa and campaigning for the American Civil Rights movement.
Wilma Rudolph
74
Frenchwoman who organized an event that would evolve into the Women's World Games, pressuring the Olympic Committee to create more women's events.
Alice Milliat
73
Controversial American radical feminist best known for her analysis of pornography as a tool used to control women, who also often examined subjects through a feminist perspective, including histories and fairy tales.
Andrea Dworkin
72
De facto Chinese empress during the late Qing Dynasty. Initially a low concubine for the emperor, she consolidated power after the emperor's death to become the sole ruler. Considered a ruthless despot today, she is still proof that women are capable of holding powerful positions.
Empress Dowager Cixi
71
English novelist who took a male pen name to be taken seriously. Known for her novels Middlemarch and Slias Marner.
Mary Ann Evans
70
Economist who showed how to address hidden unemployment and low wages. The first woman to be made an honorary member of King's College.
Joan Robinson
69
Englishwoman who exceled in lawn tennis, golf, archery, hockey, skating, tobogganing, and mountaineering.
Lottie Dod
68
German naturalist who left her unhappy marriage to sell her illustrations of various plants' lifecycles.
Maria Merian
67
French sportswoman and pilot who piloted in the First World War and earned a Croix de Guerre. Later she would contribute towards a female air ambulance service in WWII.
Marie Marvingt
66
Swedish woman who pioneered physical education, founding the first Physical Educator's college in England and advocating for rational dress in sports.
Martina Bergman-Österberg
65
British scientist who wrote the book Physical Geography, and predicted the position of Neptune based on the slight irregular motions of Uranus. Currently featured on the Royal Bank of Scotland's plastic 10 pound note
Mary Somerville
64
The fourth Judge of pre-monarchy Israel. A prophet who was told by God to lead an army against a Canaanite army to win an overwhelming victory, according to the Book of Judges.
Deborah
63
A pioneer in women's cricket, and helped develop the world cup for the women's sport.
Rachael Heyhoe Flint
62
The first self-made billionaire in America. Started an eponymous (after she changed her name) beauty and hair products company for African Americans.
Sarah Breedlove
61
French tennis player with multiple grand slam titles and two Olympic gold medals. Became the first person to win three Wimbledon championships in a year.
Suzanne Lenglen
60
British welfare campaigner during the Second Boer War. Raised social awareness for the poor treatment of displaced Boers and successfully challenged the British government.
Emily Hobhouse
59
English author, composer, and campaigner for women's rights. Produced the opera The Wreckers.
Ethel Smyth
58
The first woman to swim across the English Channel, and did it two hours faster than any men before her had done.
Gertrude Ederle
57
The first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
Junko Tabei
56
Europe's first female professor. Introduced Newtonian mechanics to Italy.
Laura Bassi
55
Invented a movable camera that could display video of a front door on a TV screen in order to protect the homeowner and residents.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
54
The first woman and first Iranian to win the Field's medal and solved mathematical problems too complex for me to understand enough to describe here.
Maryam Mirzakhani
53
The first female head of government ever, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka.
Sirimavo Bandaranaike
52
Russian poet who secretly wrote of the suffering of Russian people during the Soviet Union's reign.
Anna Akhmatova
51
A nurse during the American Civil War known as the "Angel of the Battlefield" for treating both Union and Confederate soldiers. Went on to establish the Red Cross.
Clara Barton
50
Chilean poet who wrote about morality and motherhood. First Latin American author to win the Nobel Prize.
Gabriela Mistral
49
India's first and only female prime minister.
Indira Gandhi
48
First female publisher of a major American newspaper (The Washington Post), and after taking the company public, the first female CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Oversaw the publishing of the Pentagon Papers and coverage of the Watergate scandal.
Katherine Graham
47
African-American author and anthropologist who wrote Their Eyes Were Watching God and made major contributions to studies of North American and Caribbean folklore.
Zora Neale Hurston
46
Italian Baroque Painter who painted Susanna and the Elders and Judith Slaying Holofernes.
Artemisia Gentileschi
45
French fashion designer with a famous eponymous fashion brand.
Coco Chanel
44
English playwright who wrote The Rover.
Aphra Behn
43
The first American woman to earn a pilot license who became a stunt pilot.
Bessie Coleman
42
Victorian-Era British explorer and writer who explored all over the world by boat, horse, or on foot.
Isabella Bird
41
Queen of France and mother of three kings. Remembered for her artistic patronage.
Catherine de' Medici
40
Austrian Physicist who discovered the element Protactinium as well as nuclear fission. Namesake of the 109th element.
Lise Meitner
39
Pioneering journalist who wrote powerful stories about the poor and corruption. Circumnavigated the world on her own in 72 days, setting a new world record.
Nellie Bly
38
Shoshone Interpreter who led Lewis and Clark's expedition across America all while holding her newborn on her back. Featured on the US dollar coin.
Sacagawea
37
Humanitarian and suffragist British MP who later worked with Spanish and Jewish refugees during the rise of fascism in Europe.
Eleanor Rathbone
36
Alexandrian mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher. Earliest known female mathematician whose works are preserved.
Hypatia
35
Byzantine Empress; one the first to recognize women's rights, rewriting divorce laws to give equal benefits to women and prohibiting the trafficking of women.
Theodora
34
Mexican painter and icon for many minority groups. Often overshadowed by her husband in life, is now praised as an important member of the surrealist movement.
Frida Kahlo
33
Computer Scientist and US Navy rear admiral. First woman to earn a PhD in Mathematics from Yale University. Developed the early programming language COBOL
Grace Hopper
32
Writer and philosopher who wrote The Second Sex, which greatly influenced post-war feminism and gender discussions.
Simone de Beauvoir
31
British modernist novelist who wrote Mrs Dalloway and A Room of One's Own. Also contributed to the founding of the Bloomsbury Group.
Virginia Woolf
30
Kenyan environmentalist who founded the Green Belt Movement (similar to what Jetpunk contributes to!). The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, and the first African woman to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.
Wangari Maathai
29
Catholic saint who pushed for Church reform after the Black Death.
Catherine of Siena
28
Queen of Castile who unified the kingdom with Aragon to form the Kingdom of Spain and bring it towards global prominence.
Isabella of Castile
27
French Saint and warrior. Led France to take back land in the Hundred Year's War before being executed for heresy by the British.
Joan of Arc
26
Paleontologist who discovered many fossils of extinct species that helped popularize the theory of evolution.
Mary Anning
25
English Quaker known as the "Angel of Prisons" who campaigned to make prisons more humane. She also improved British hospitals and treatments of the mentally ill.
Elizabeth Fry
24
Final ruler of Egypt's Ptolemaic Dynasty. Potentially the most famous Egyptian.
Cleopatra
23
British intelligence officer and member of the Special Operations Executive during World War II who was able to trace every missing SOE agent besides one.
Vera Atkins
22
"Great" Russian Empress who modernized and expanded the country. Patron of arts and education.
Catherine the Great
21
Author of Frankenstein.
Mary Shelly
20
Albanian Catholic nun who worked in Calcutta. Founded the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Teresa
19
Self-designated nurse during the Crimean War who offered shelter and treatment to injured soldiers in her Hotel.
Mary Seacole
18
British activist who campaigned against sexual double standards in the medical field such as compulsory examinations of women, and later against child prostitution and international sex trafficking.
Josephine Butler
17
Second-longest reigning British monarch. Oversaw the empire through a period of changed named after her.
Queen Victoria
16
The first woman to fly across the Atlantic ocean. During an attempt to circumnavigate the world, she disappeared, and the reason remains a mystery to this day.
Amelia Earhart
15
Princess of Wales famous for her charity work and activism, including helping sick children, banning landmines, and raising awareness of cancer, HIV/AIDS, and mental illness.
Princess Diana
14
Queen of the Iceni tribe during the Roman occupation of Britain who rallied the Celtic tribes to revolt against the Romans, driving them out of major cities.
Boudicca
13
Author of Pride and Prejudice.
Jane Austen
12
Sinless mother of Jesus, according to the Gospels.
Virgin Mary
11
One of the richest women of the middle ages, who was wife to both Louis VII of France and Richard II of England, thus holding an important position in both countries' histories.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
10
Scottish sex educator and advocate for birth control who wrote Wise Parenting.
Marie Stopes
9
The Mother of modern medical practice, a nurse in the Crimean War who reported to the army medical services on how to reduce avoidable deaths and established a permanent military nursing service after the war.
Florence Nightingale
8
English writer and philosopher who was essential in the foundations of feminism. Wrote A Vindication for the Rights of Woman.
Mary Wollstonecraft
7
English philanthropist who pioneered social housing and financed the redevelopment of East London. Made a baroness by the Queen for her work with the poor.
Angela Burdett-Coutts
6
First female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom called the "Iron Lady" for her uncompromising politics and leadership style.
Margaret Thatcher
5
Expert crystallographer who photographed DNA for the first time.
Rosalind Franklin
4
Mathematician and considered to be the first computer programmer.
Ada Lovelace
3
Founded the Women's Social and Political Union and rallied thousands of women to demand the right to vote in Britain.
Emmeline Pankhurst
2
The female face of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Challenged segregation by refusing to give up her seat on the bus.
Rosa Parks
1
Founder of the science of radioactivity. First human to win the Nobel prize twice. Identified Radium and Polonium. Funded laboratories in Europe and the US to develop cancer treatments. Equipped Ambulances with X-Ray gear in the First World War and drove them to the front lines herself. Namesake of the 96th element.
Marie Curie
+2
Level 77
Jan 14, 2021
I got 28, but I'm annoyed that I couldn't think of the names of #5 and #4
+2
Level 53
Jan 14, 2021
Never thought I would see Amrita Pritam up here xD.