7 Highly Successful Women on Their Favorite Historical Females
We're celebrating Women's History Month by remembering these innovative, brave, thoughtful, and inspiring heroines.
"For her free spirit and for being an aviation pioneer. As the first woman to fly across the Atlantic in the early days of flight, she dared to dream and saw beyond the immediate horizon. She was a true pioneering spirit at a time when women were not accepted as equals. She proved she could do anything the boys could do."
Natalie Morales, news anchor, NBC News’ Today and the co-host of the third hour
Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper
"Both women are true pioneers in the field of computer science. They are role models in a field that's dominated by men, and they remind us that we need to push for a more inclusive and well-rounded notion of what it means to be a computer programmer."
Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO, Girls Who Code and author of Women Who Don’t Wait in Line
"She was a leader and ahead of her time in so many ways. Among others, I love that she appreciated the value of napping, and would frequently use them before speaking engagements for an extra boost of energy. There was also the moment in 1940 when FDR took a 10-day vacation to think about how to support Britain in the early stages of World War II. 'I think of you sleeping and eating and I hope getting rest from the world,' she wrote him. And indeed he was. What he came up with on that trip was the $50 billion Lend Lease program. And she was, of course, a leader in her own right, both during their time in the White House and afterwards advocating for human rights, civil rights and the rights of women."
Arianna Huffington, Editor-in-Chief, The Huffington Post and author of The Sleep Revolution
"I don't know if I have a favorite historic single woman, but I’ll tell you my favorite story. [The story of] Marian Anderson, the singer, encapsulated so much. Her [high school] boyfriend asked her to marry him. His name was Orpheus Fisher, and she says no, in part because she has ambitions for a career and she feels, correctly, that having a husband would weigh her down and get in the way of her very serious ambitions. So she turned him down. She goes on to have this historically important career, and sings on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and she broke all of these barriers in terms of race and gender and becomes really famous. Then, when she's 46 years old, she marries Orpheus Fisher, the same guy who asked her to marry him [when they were teenagers]."
Rebecca Traister, journalist and author of All the Single Ladies, as previously told to Real Simple.
Susan B. Anthony
"My daughter is so enthralled with the idea of a woman being elected president that she told me that she would like to vote for Hillary 'a hundred times.' I told her this was not possible. You only get to vote once. Also, she is 11. But when I watch her watch the election—with a woman seeking to succeed an African American as president—it’s impossible not to think of Susan B. Anthony, who was both an abolitionist and a suffragette. It’s a powerful reminder that history—and herstory—are living things, and that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us."
Gayle Forman, author of If I Stay and I Was Here
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"I’m intrigued and inspired by many women in history, from Virginia Woolf to Eleanor of Aquitaine to Harriet Tubman. But the woman who interests me most is St. ThÃ©rÃ¨se of Lisieux. I’m not even Catholic, but St. ThÃ©rÃ¨se is my spiritual master. Years ago, when I first read her memoir, Story of a Soul, I found that whenever she wrote about herself, I understood myself better, even though our lives are so different. (She lived in France, spent much of her life in a cloistered convent, with a small group of other nuns, and died in 1897 from tuberculosis at the age of 24.) As I go through my own day, I often think about the example of St.ThÃ©rÃ¨se."
Gretchen Rubin, bestselling author of Better Than Before and The Happiness Project
"I have long been fascinated by Margaret Fuller, author, journalist, critic, and feminist, who was born in Massachusetts in 1810. Rumor has it she was the inspiration for Hester Prynne; she knew Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, and did, in fact, have a child out of wedlock. Her book, Woman in the Nineteenth Century, is considered a seminal feminist treatise; Susan B. Anthony said Fuller was an inspiration. She supported prison reform and the emancipation of slaves, and was associated with the American transcendentalism movement. In 1840, Ralph Waldo Emerson asked her to become editor of his transcendentalist journal, The Dial, and she did. A few years later, at the invitation of famed editor Horace Greeley, she joined the New York Tribune, becoming the first full-time book reviewer in American journalism, and the Tribune's first female editor. I'd love to know what she thinks of the role of women today—especially if one becomes president."
Abby Ellin, writer and author of Teenage Waistland