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.
Jane Austen was an English author who wrote about the lives of the British upper class in the 19th Century. Her novels famously poke fun at how people at the time expected women to behave.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Today, she is one of the most popular authors in the English language
Mary Anning was a famous British fossil hunter. She found the fossils of prehistoric animals.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Fossils are the hard remains of animals that died long ago. Although Mary was not trained as a scientist, her discoveries changed science.
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.
Betsy Ross was a seamstress and flag maker. Some people believe that she made the first American flag during the War for Independence from a sketched design that George Washington gave her.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Betsy can be best-known figure from the American Revolutionary era who wasn't a president, general or statesman.
To learn more, check out the Betsy Ross biography
7. Harriett Tubman
Harriet Tubman was an African American woman who escaped slavery and became one of the leading figures helping other slaves escape to freedom.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Harriet led 19 different escapes, helping around 300 slaves to escape to freedom.
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.
To learn more, check out the Rosa Parks biography
9. Abigail Adams
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.
To learn more, check out the Abigail Adams biography
10. Rosalind Franklin
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.
To learn more, check out the Rosalind Franklin's biography
11. Emmeline Pankhurst
Emmeline Pankhurst was a British political activist and the leader of the suffragette movement in England that helped women win the right to vote.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She lived through a time where the role of women in society changed quickly but her passionate belief that women deserved equal rights never changed.
To learn more, check out the Emmeline Pankhurst biography
12. Amelia Bloomer
Amelia Bloomer was an American journalist and activist. She created one of the first newspapers dedicated to women, “The Lily”.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Campaigning for changes in women’s clothing that would allow them to be more active in their everyday activities. “Bloomers” are named after her.
To learn more, check out the Amelia Bloomer biography
13. Sue Hendrickson
Susan Hendrickson is an American paleontologist best known for her discovery of the remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex in South Dakota on August 12, 1990.
Why is she a great female role model in history? Her discovery was the largest specimen of a T. Rex found and one of the most complete skeletons.
To learn more, check out the Sue Hendrickson biography
14. Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart was the first woman aviator to fly by herself across the Atlantic.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She was determined to pilot the plane and make the flight across the Atlantic all by herself.
To learn more, check out the Amelia Earhart biography
15. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin
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.
To learn more, check out the Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin biography
16. Eleanor Roosevelt
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.
To learn more, check out the Eleanor Roosevelt biography
17. Carolyn Porco
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.
To learn more, check out the Carolyn Porco biography
18. Florence Nightingale
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.
To learn more, check out the Florence Nightingale biography
19. Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Northern Irish astrophysicist known for her groundbreaking discovery of “pulsars”.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She became the first woman to become President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
To learn more, check out the Jocelyn Bell Burnell biography
20. Helen Keller
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.
To learn more, check out the Helen Keller biography
21. Mary Leakey
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.
To learn more, check out the Mary Leakey biography
22. Susan B. Anthony
Susan B. Anthony was a leader of the movement to grant American women the right to vote, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She spoke out against slavery, and for women to have their right to property. She is also the first women to appear on the US dollar coin.
To learn more, check out the Susan B. Anthony biography
23. Kim Campbell
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.
To learn more, check out the Kim Campbell biography
24. Jeannette Rankin
Jeannette Rankin was a famous activist and the first woman to be elected to the United States Congress.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She is remembered for championing women’s rights and being strongly anti-war.
To learn more, check out the Jeannette Rankin biography
25. Deborah Sampson
Deborah Sampson disguised herself as a man in order to be a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, where she served for 17 months.
Why is she a great female role model in history? She is one of the very few women to have combated in that war.
To learn more, check out the Deborah Sampson biography