Female role models in history can help kids feel empowered to change their world and build a better future for us all. Here are 25 of our favorite female role models in history. We also share reasons your kids should know about them and links to resources where you and your kids can learn more about them.
1. Frida Kahlo
Frida Kahlo 'Self Portrait' 1940
Frida Kahlo was a Mexican artist best known for her self-portraits. Her paintings are strongly influenced by Mexican folk culture, and use lots of bright colors and dramatic symbolism.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Frida was an inspiration because she overcame great hardships, such as physical illness, and shows tremendous determination.
To learn more, check out the Frida Kahlo biography and download our free Frida Kahlo printable coloring page.
2. Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace is the world’s first computer programmer. She was the first person to write a program.
Why is she a great female role model in history?Ada believed machines could do more than just math and correctly predicted many of their future uses, such as creating graphics and music.
Mary Seacole was a Jamaican nurse who cared for British soldiers during the Crimean War. The soldiers called her “Mother Seacole”.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Although Mary got rejected many times, she never gave up. She seen that solider were not being treated properly for their wounds. Since she was not accepted she started up her own 'hotel' for these wounded soldiers that were not being cared for.
Rosa Parks was one of the most influential African-American civil rights activists and has been named “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”.
Why is she a great female role model in history? On the 1st December 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white passenger. Her actions led to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a campaign against the segregation of black people.
Abigail Adams was the wife of John Adams, the second President of the United States. She was also the mother of the sixth President, John Quincy Adams. Abigail was known as “Mrs President” because her husband often asked for her advice when he was in office.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Abigail helped the First Ladies who came after her to be more involved in politics.
Rosalind Franklin was a scientist whose work was very important in discovering the structure of DNA
Why is she a great female role model in history? Rosalind’s work helped other scientists to understand the structure of DNA and to find out how genetic information is passed from parents to their children.
Cecilia was able to find out that stars are made up of mostly hydrogen and helium, and although officially she was not credited for this discovery, this revelation has become the basis for many studies of the universe.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She was one of the first women to advance to the rank of professor at Harvard University and the first woman to head a department there.
Eleanor Roosevelt was a politician and an activist who was married to the President of the United States, Franklin D Roosevelt. She was known as the “First Lady of the World” as she was as politically active as her husband and fought for the rights of women and African Americans.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She was a voice for a lot of women around the world who wanted to work and have goals and dreams.
An American planetary scientist, Carolyn Porco is famous for her work on the joint NASA/ESA Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn, and the Voyager missions exploring the outer Solar System.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She was involved in the Voyager meetings with Uranus in 1986 and Neptune in 1989. Carolyn was the first person to describe the behavior of the ringlets within the rings of Saturn.
Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing, and showed that trained nurses and clean hospitals helped sick people get better. She was known as the ‘Lady with the Lamp’.
Why is she a great female role model in history?Soldiers were dying in huge numbers from diseases like cholera and typhoid. Florence set to work improving hygiene conditions, cleaning soldiers’ wounds and bed sheets. Like most people at the time, she knew little about how infectious diseases spread.
Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She was very determined and set herself the goal of learning to speak so that she could communicate with a wider audience. She achieved this goal and went on to give many speeches and lectures.
Mary Leakey was a British expert in ancient human fossils. She was one of the most important researchers in human evolution, and found the first examples of several extinct species that were human ancestors.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Throughout her career, Mary discovered a total of 15 new fossil species.
Kim Campbell was the first female Prime Minister of Canada, and a woman of many ‘firsts’.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Her political career witnessed huge successes including becoming the first female Justice Minister, the first female Minister of National Defence and the first female Minister of Veterans affairs.