March 8, was officially deemed International Women’s Day by the United Nations in 1975. It is a day the world recognizes the achievements women have made through history. It is a day to celebrate progress in women’s rights and an inspiration to continue making changes for the rights of women. Observing International Women’s Day, educates young adults on the great achievements women have made through history; many, if not most of whom are underrated to this day.
Some of the most common names that come to mind are; Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, Gloria Steinem, and Eleanor Roosevelt when it comes to powerful women in history, but what about the less recognizable names? This International Women’s Day, there is a list of underrated women who have made contributions that have changed science, technology and modern culture as we know it, yet despite this proud history, we hardly know most of their stories until now.
Polish-French physicist, Marie Curie (1867-1934). In 1903, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in Physics, an honor she shared with Pierre Curie, her husband. She was famous for her research in radioactivity and the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes in multiple sciences. In 1911 she won her second Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Marie Curie died of radiation exposure in 1934.
French explorer, Alexandra David-Néel (1868-1969). The travel book writer had an adventurous career during a time that such a life style was unheard of for women. David-Néel crossed the Alps, road bicycle’s through Europe, and studied both Hinduism and Buddhism in India and China. She lived in Tibet for 14 years, and after several quiet years in France returned to the road at age 70.
Law Attorney, Sarah Weddington (1945-present). Weddington is the attorney who represented Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey in the 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. Abortion became legalized in the US during the first trimester of pregnancy after that case. Abortion was either illegal or limited in most states prior to Roe v. Wade. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled abortion as a fundamental right under the constitution.
Computer Pioneer, Grace Hopper (1906-1992). Hopper was a genius mathematician and computer programmer who programmed the first computers. She received her mathematics degree from Vassar in 1928 and her Ph.D from Yale in 1934. Ms. Hopper was awarded the first Computer Science Man-of-the-Year Award from the Data Processing Management Association in 1969.
Athlete, Babe Zaharias (1914-1956). Zaharis excelled and broke world records in basketball, baseball, javelin and hurdles. The born athlete was named the number two greatest athlete in the United States. She came in second to her namesake Babe Ruth, an athlete who only played one sport yet still ranked better than the multi-sport player. A name that should be recognized on International Women’s Day, and clearly one of the most underrated women in history.
International Women’s Day gives the world the opportunity to look back and explore the lives of exceptional women who have changed the world. The underrated and the well-known women in history are of equal importance, and International Women’s Day brings all of these inspirational women to the forefront. The more the achievements of women today and in history are celebrated, the more young women will have role models to emulate, and continue to bring great progress and change to the world.
By Christina Thompson