More often than not, you will find that your children are taught history really well. They may learn to love it, they may just never get into it. But an unsurprising trend can be seen within the teaching of history, and that is that an emphasis is placed on men – their discoveries, their adventurers, their decisions. So if you are looking for some women to even up the balance, then take a look at these five women from history. Yes, it is important to teach your daughter about them; but it is even more important to tell them to your son. He is the next generation of men, and the best way for him to learn to treat women as equals is to show him that they are.
Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia.
Universities have existed for almost a thousand years now – Oxford and Cambridge in the United Kingdom have been admitting students since the thirteenth century, and there have been centres of higher education since before the Normans conquered England. But it took until the 25th June 1678 for a woman to be awarded a degree, and her name was Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia. She loved philosophy, and the only reason that she was permitted to attend the University of Padua, Italy, was because she was from a noble family. However, she set a precedent that has allowed hundreds of thousands of other women to achieve their academic goals.
Although there were many celebrations – and rightly so – when Barack Obama became the first black American President, there still has not been a woman to take charge in the White House. That could have been very different: in 1872, Victoria Woodhull ran for the role of President of the United States. She was, sadly, unsuccessful, but that didn’t particularly get her down. She joined her sister on the New York Stock Exchange, and made an absolute fortune.
This is one woman that is more likely to appear on a Chemistry syllabus than a History syllabus. Along with her husband, Marie Curie dedicated her life to scientific research, specifically that of chemical radiation. She was the first ever woman to be awarded the Noble Prize, given to her in 1903. Her dedication to science was complete: she died from radiation poisoning, but not before completely revolutionising our understanding of radiation.
Hanna was a German woman who did not believe that not being a man was any reason for her to be held back. Instead, she decided to beat the men at their own game. In the 1930s, when aviation was really starting to take off, she determinedly set over forty world records in altitude – going very high – and endurance – flying for a very long time. Hanna Reitsch was also the very first woman to ever fly a helicopter, a rocket plane, and a jet fighter. Hanna proved to men and women everywhere that there was nothing inherently masculine about aviation, and that anyone could excel at what they loved if they put enough work into it.
There are many things that are believed to be more difficult, or even impossible for women, because of their physical differences from men. But Junko Tabei has demonstrated that anything he can do, she can do better. Junko, from Japan, decided to make her personal goal to climb Mount Everest – which she successfully did, on May 16th, 1975. It wasn’t a perfect trip, however: about 6300 metres up, an avalanche buried Junko and her team of almost twenty people. Junko lost consciousness for about six minutes before she was dug out of the snow – but she didn’t descend, but continued climbing to the top.