Babies toys ecology 101 Amazing Women Who Changed the World

Babies toys ecology

History is not always what is seems—regardless of what even the most robust textbooks might say. Take, for example, the work of Rosalind Franklin: The British scientist whose 1952 research was integral to the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA, but who had her research swiped by male colleagues who announced their “discovery” to the world—and won a Nobel Prize for it—without giving Franklin one bit of the credit.

While gender parity continues to be an ongoing problem (yes, even in 2020), the world is fortunately full of examples of brave women who have stood up to the most daunting challenges to make their voices heard and accept full recognition for their achievements. From singers to scientists and athletes to activists, here are 101 women who have changed the world.

Babies toys ecology 1. Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, civil rights activist, dancer, and director best known for titles such as her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1928, Angelou fought back against a society filled with racism and prejudice to write more than 30 books, direct 1998’s Down in the Delta starring Alfre Woodard and Wesley Snipes, recite one of her poems at Bill Clinton’s inauguration, and be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2010. —Kristen Richard

Babies toys ecology 2. Susan B. Anthony

This year marks the 100th anniversary of (many) women gaining the right to vote in the United States—and the 200th birthday of one of the women who made it possible: Susan B. Anthony. Born in Massachusetts in 1820, Anthony was a lifelong activist on behalf of women’s rights. With fellow suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Anthony founded the American Equal Rights Association in 1866 and traveled the country advocating for voting rights. She and Stanton also edited the organization’s newspaper to further disseminate feminist ideas. Though their opposition to the 15th Amendment—which gave suffrage to men of all races (in theory), but not women—caused a split in the women’s movement, Anthony continued to muster support and lobby Congress for suffrage. In one of her most defiant acts, she was arrested simply for casting a ballot in the 1872 presidential election and given a fine of $100—which she refused to pay. —Kat Long

Babies toys ecology 3. Virginia Apgar

Virginia Apgar’s career was full of firsts: In 1937, she became the first female board-certified anesthesiologist and the first woman to achieve the rank of professor at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, where she was the first professor of anesthesiology. In 1952, she presented a five-step system for assessing the condition of newborn babies within a minute of birth and periodically after that. Prior to the development of the test—in which nurses or other delivery room staff assess a baby’s skin color, heart rate, reflexes, muscle tone, and breathing—babies weren’t typically given much attention after birth, which could lead to problems being missed until it was too late.

The test eventually became a backronym for appearance, pulse, grimace, activity, and respiration. The APGAR test soon spread through the U.S. and around the world, and today, according to the National Library of Medicine, “[E]very baby born in a modern hospital anywhere in the world is looked at first through the eyes of Dr. Virginia Apgar.” —Erin McCarthy

Babies toys ecology 4. Jane Austen

Jane Austen completed just six novels before she died at the age of 41 in 1817, yet she managed to change the course of literature. Her books, including Pride and Prejudice, were groundbreaking in their use of literary realism and free indirect narrative style—modes that would become so commonplace in fiction that it’s easy to miss how experimental Austen’s books were in their time. Even two centuries after her death, her stories have retained their appeal to both critics and everyday readers alike, both through her books and the numerous, numerous spin-offs, reimaginings, and adaptations that have been created for film, television, and the stage. —Shaunacy Ferro

Babies toys ecology 5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

There’s not a lot to say about Ruth Bader Ginsburg that hasn’t already been stated: The Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court has been the subject of countless articles and books (including several children’s books), as well as an Oscar-nominated documentary (RBG) and a Felicity Jones-starring biopic (On the Basis of the Sex) that were both released in 2018. That same year, her photo made a fleeting appearance in Deadpool 2, with the foul-mouthed superhero considering the then-85-year-old for a part in his own superhero team, the X-Force. Many individuals (of the non-superhero kind) agree, as Ginsburg has spent the better part of her career breaking down barriers and fighting for women’s rights and gender parity. All of which is to say that Ginsburg’s “Notorious RBG” moniker is well-earned, and 100 percent accurate. —Jennifer M. Wood

Babies toys ecology 6. Josephine Baker

On the surface, Josephine Baker is best known as an enchanting singer who wowed crowds pretty much anywhere she performed—but she was much more than that. A dedicated civil rights and social activist, Baker actually worked as a spy for the French Resistance across North Africa and Europe during WWII. She was known to sneak photos of German military installations across borders by pinning them to her underwear while going through customs and moved top-secret messages across Europe while writing them in invisible ink on her sheet music. The more you learn about Baker, the more unbelievable it all sounds. But make no mistake about it, this multifaceted entertainer was the real deal. —Jay Serafino

Babies toys ecology 7. Jeanne Baret

The French crewmembers of the Étoile voyage in the 1760s fully intended to circumnavigate the globe—they just didn’t think a woman would be doing it with them. Dr. Philibert Commerçon had been hired as the ship’s botanist on the expedition, and he hatched a plan to bring along his lover, fellow botanist Jeanne Baret. Since women weren’t allowed, Baret had to dress as a man, go by “Jean,” and work as Commerçon’s assistant. The ruse worked for a while, but the crew eventually discovered Baret’s true identity and kicked the couple off the ship as soon as they got to the French colony of Mauritius. Years later, after Commerçon died, Baret married and returned to France—completing the circumnavigation. —Ellen Gutoskey

Babies toys ecology 8. Clara Barton

Clarissa “Clara” Harlowe Barton started tending to wounded soldiers just a week after the Civil War began, using supplies from her own home. She proved herself to be a relentless, reliable, fearless nurse throughout the war, eventually earning the nickname “Angel of the Battlefield” and even narrowly avoiding death herself when a bullet tore through her dress at the Battle of Antietam. Several years after the war had ended, Barton traveled to Switzerland, where she first heard about the International Red Cross and left with an idea to establish a similar organization in the United States. Barton launched the American Red Crosst with the help of philanthropist Adolphus Solomons in May 1881, and she served as its president for the next 23 years. —EG

Babies toys ecology 9. Melitta Bentz

If you can’t face the morning without a cup of coffee, you should raise your mug to Melitta Bentz, a German housewife who patented the paper coffee filter in Berlin in 1908. Bentz had grown frustrated with loose grounds winding up in her joe and decided to use a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook to filter them. The trick soon spread across the globe, with Bentz and her husband, Hugo, running a successful manufacturing business that also helped popularize five-day workweeks and holiday bonuses. —Jake Rossen

Babies toys ecology 10. Simone Biles

Simone Biles became a household name after helping the United States women’s gymnastics team win gold at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where she also took home a whopping four individual medals: gold for all-around, vault, and floor, and bronze on the beam. Since then, Biles has become the most decorated female gymnast in history, setting so many records along the way that it would probably be excessive to list them here. Her powerhouse performances have raised the standard for women’s gymnastics around the world, and her unfalteringly sunny attitude and laser focus have taught us all something about how to be better, more successful people. As Biles sets her sights on taking home more medals at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, she’s also hoping to flatten a different kind of adversary: toxic beauty standards. She and five other Olympic athletes are teaming up with skincare brand SK-II on a video series that promotes acceptance, self-love, and positive body image.—EG

Babies toys ecology 11. Mary Blair

The look of Disney’s animated films and theme parks in the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s evolved in many ways thanks to artist and designer Mary Blair. Her earliest work at the company involved a Disney-backed goodwill tour of South America to research the continent and capture its unique look in her art. She returned with watercolor paintings that were so impressive that she was named an art supervisor on the Latin American-themed movies The Three Caballeros and Saludos Amigos.

Her career continued from there, lending her visual style to Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland, as well as helping to design the original “It’s a Small World” exhibit at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Her art has also graced Disney resorts, parks, and entries in the company’s Little Golden Books line. —JS

Babies toys ecology 12. Nellie Bly

Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, known by her pen name Nellie Bly, was hellbent on telling stories that mattered. After ditching the Pittsburgh-based Dispatch because the paper insisted she stick to writing frilly tales, Bly set her sights on New York City. For her first assignment at the New York World, the investigative journalist went undercover at the asylum on Blackwell’s Island to report on the horrors occurring there. Bly spent much of her career embedded among her subjects, bringing issues that plagued the city’s darker corners to light—when she wasn’t shattering records by voyaging around the world in 72 days, that is. —Kerry Wolfe

Babies toys ecology 13. Sarah Breedlove (a.k.a. Madam C. J. Walker)

In 1888, a 20-year-old widow named Sarah McWilliams (née Breedlove) moved from Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri, and got a job as a washerwoman, earning about $1.50 a day to support herself and her daughter. By the early 1900s, she had developed her own line of hair care products for African American women and was selling them door-to-door. With a high demand and a wide open market, McWilliams—who had married Charles Joseph Walker and was now going by Madam C.J. Walker—soon expanded her business to the Caribbean and Central America, opened a beauty school, and had more than 25,000 salespeople in her employ. Though profit estimates vary, Walker is generally regarded as the first self-made female millionaire, and she remains one of America’s greatest examples of entrepreneurship to this day. —EG

Babies toys ecology 14. Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges was only 6 years old when, in 1960, she integrated at a public school in the South. Segregation in public schools had officially ended in 1954, the year the Supreme Court made its ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education of Topeka—and the year Bridges was born—but southern schools resisted. A federal court ordered Louisiana to desegregate, and in 1960 Bridges began to attend William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. She was the only African American in the school. In 2014, she told National Geographic of her first day, which was immortalized in a painting by Norman Rockwell four years later. “I remember driving up to the school, seeing all these people screaming,” she said. “But in New Orleans that’s what we do at Mardi Gras. I thought we’d stumbled upon a parade. And so I really wasn’t afraid at all.”

Each day, Bridges was escorted into school by four federal marshals and her mother. Crowds screamed at her; parents withdrew their white children; only one teacher would allow Bridges into her classroom; the little girl ate lunch by herself. Bridges’s family suffered, too, but Bridges persisted: She didn’t miss a day of school the entire year. Perhaps not surprisingly, Bridges became an activist for racial equality, and in 1999, she founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation, whose mission is to “empower children to advance social justice and racial harmony.” —EMC

Babies toys ecology 15. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë

Isolated in an English village in the mid-19th century, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë entertained themselves by creating imaginary worlds and making up stories about their inhabitants. These Gothic dramas set the stage for their later novels, particularly Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette by Charlotte; Wuthering Heights by Emily; and Agnes Grey and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne. Each story confronted the shortcomings of Victorian society, particularly the lack of economic opportunities for women, in wildly Romantic narratives set amid the melancholy moors of Yorkshire. To increase their chance of publication, they authored their work under their gender-neutral pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. It was a smart move for the time—most of their books were bestsellers, because critics and readers assumed they were written by men. But after Emily and Anne died in 1848 and 1849, respectively, Charlotte pushed back against critics who had dismissed her sisters’ talents and revealed, in a heartbreaking memorial, all of their true identities. —KL

Babies toys ecology 16. Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, kicked off the modern environmental movement and has been called “one of the most influential books in the history of modern publishing” by The New York Times. By the time the book was published in 1962, Carson was a veteran nature writer, capable of explaining science so everyone could understand, and in Silent Spring, she set her sights on showing the horrific effects pesticides like DDT were having on wildlife and humans alike. She backed up her claims with page after page of evidence. For The Guardian, Margaret Atwood wrote that Carson “polished all her rhetorical weapons, and synthesized a wide range of research. She was able to combine a simple and dramatic presentation with a formidable array of backup statistics, and to forge a call to specific action. The impact was enormous—many groups, pieces of legislation, and government agencies were inspired by it.” The pesticide industry smeared Carson, but she fought back defiantly until her death from breast cancer in 1964—and Silent Spring remains relevant more than 50 years after it was published. —EMC

Babies toys ecology 17. Joyce Chen

It’s easy to find Chinese food in America today, but when Joyce Chen moved to the United States from China in 1949, the traditional cuisine of her home was still regarded as a novelty. Over the next few decades, Chen shared her passion for Chinese food with her new country by opening restaurants, writing cookbooks, and starring in her own cooking show. Chinese buffets, the name Peking raviolis for potstickers, and the stir-fry pan are just a few of the innovations she brought to Chinese-American cuisine. —Michele Debczak

Babies toys ecology 18. Julia Child

Before the Barefoot Contessa, Rachael Ray, and Guy Fieri, there was Julia Child. Her cooking show, The French Chef, was the perfect showcase for her endearing personality and unpretentious approach to cooking, and it made her into one of the first celebrity chefs on television. Before her screen debut, Child had changed the world with her 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her book is credited with bringing gourmet cooking into many typical American kitchens for the first time. —MD

Babies toys ecology 19. Shirley Chisholm

Born in Brooklyn, Shirley Chisholm started her career as a teacher. In 1964, she became the second African-American woman to serve in New York state legislature, and when political redistricting created a new Brooklyn congressional district in 1968, Chisholm defeated civil rights activist James Farmer to become the first African-American woman elected to U.S. Congress. She served seven terms in the House of Representatives, helping found the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus along the way. As a politician, she fought for equality for women and minorities, to eradicate poverty, and to end the draft and the Vietnam War. “I want history to remember me … not as the first black woman to have made a bid for the presidency of the United States, but as a black woman who lived in the 20th century and who dared to be herself,” she declared in an interview just before her death. “I want to be remembered as a catalyst for change in America.” —SF

Babies toys ecology 20. Eugenie Clark

Eugenie Clark was a pioneer of the field of ichthyology, performing dozens of submersible dives and discovering several new species of fish during her lifetime. One of few women and even fewer women of Japanese-American descent working in marine biology in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s, Clark was known to push boundaries. Unlike many of her colleagues, she wasn’t afraid to study fish up close in the water. She was also one of the first ichthyologists to explore the Red Sea. Outside of the ocean, Clark taught the public about marine life and fought to improve sharks’ reputation, earning her the nickname “The Shark Lady.” —MD

Babies toys ecology 21. Cleopatra

While history often remembers the queen of Egypt for her supposed beauty, Cleopatra was a highly intelligent politician who spoke at least nine languages including Egyptian—making her the first person in her family to do so as her dynasty was Macedonian Greek. Despite being a female ruler in a male-dominated society, Cleopatra had a major impact on the Roman empire and held Egypt together during a time of turmoil. —KR

Babies toys ecology 22. Alice Coachman

Earning Olympic Gold is a rare feat in any era: Alice Coachman was facing more of an uphill struggle than most. Unable to train at segregated facilities that refused entry to athletes of color, Coachman devised impromptu routines on her own before landing an athletic scholarship at Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama. She won gold in the high jump at the 1948 London Games by launching herself 5 feet, 6 and 1/8 inches in the air, becoming the first black woman to earn a gold medal in track and field. She made even more history in 1952, scoring an endorsement deal with Coca-Cola—the first black female athlete to do so. Her achievements have been enough to fill at least nine separate Halls of Fame. —JR

Babies toys ecology 23. Bessie Coleman

When Bessie Coleman realized that no one in America would teach a non-white woman to be a pilot, she was undeterred. In 1920, the 28-year-old traveled to France to enroll in flight school and, less than a year later, returned home as both the first African American woman and the first Native American woman in the world with a pilot’s license. Coleman used her new skills to perform in airshows around the country. In 1926, she died in an aviation accident, and though her career as an aviatrix was brief, she broke barriers for generations of pilots to come. —MD

Babies toys ecology 24. Caresse Crosby

Many a bra-wearer will tell you that bras are far from the most comfortable clothing item to wear on a daily basis, but they’re still a heck of a lot better than the full-torso, whalebone corsets that women customarily wore in the early 20th century. That’s what inspired 19-year-old Caresse Crosby—born Mary Phelps Jacobs—to fashion a brand-new kind of booby trap from two silk handkerchiefs and some ribbon when she was dressing for a debutante ball. She called it a brassiere, patented it in 1914, and sold that patent to Warner Brothers Corset Company before turning her attention to publishing and writing. —EG

Babies toys ecology 25. Marie Curie

Polish scientist Maria Salomea Skłodowska, better known as Marie Curie, discovered a couple of elements, won a couple of Nobel Prizes, broke a couple of records, and paved the way for female scientists who came after her (including her daughter, Irène, who also won a Nobel Prize with her husband). Curie’s 1903 Nobel Prize in physics for her work in radioactivity made her the first woman to ever win one, and her 1911 Nobel Prize in chemistry (for discovering and studying the elements radium and polonium) made her the first and only person—not woman, but person—to ever win Nobel prizes in two different sciences. In 1934, Curie died at age 66 from aplastic anemia, likely due to her prolonged exposure to radiation; to this day, some of her notebooks are still radioactive. —EG

Babies toys ecology 26. Sandra Day O’Connor

Appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. She was often a swing vote during her two decades on the court, including on Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the landmark 1992 case that reaffirmed Roe v. Wade’s stance on the constitutional right to abortion. O’Connor retired from the bench in 2006. She has since founded the nonprofit educational website iCivics, which provides lessons and free resources designed to get more kids involved in civic life. —SF

Babies toys ecology 27. Ann E. Dunwoody

Though Ann E. Dunwoody was born into a military family in Fort Belvoir, Virginia on January 14, 1953, fatigues were never something she saw in her future. The daughter of a career army officer, Dunwoody attended the State University of New York College at Cortland with an eye toward a career in physical education, but before then, she’d explain, “I had hoped to add my own small footnote to our family tradition. While I joined the Army right out of college, I planned to only stay in the Army to complete my two-year commitment,” Dunwoody said in an interview. “But it wasn’t too long before I realized that there are no other shoes I would rather fill than the ones I am wearing right now … It is a calling to be a soldier and there is a great sense of pride and camaraderie in serving the greatest Army in the world.” While Dunwoody is proud that members of her family have been defending America for more than 150 years— “my great grandfather, my grandfather, my father, my brother, my sister, my niece, and my husband are all veterans of this country’s wars”—it’s hard to believe that any of them have come close to matching Dunwoody’s achievements. At Fort Bragg, one of the world’s largest military installations, she became the first female battalion commander for the 82nd Airborne Division in 1992. On November 14, 2008, Dunwoody made history yet again when she became the first American woman promoted to four-star general. Though she retired in 2012, after nearly 40 years of service, Dunwoody later published a book, A Higher Standard: Leadership Strategies from America’s First Female Four-Star General, in which she shared many insights on being an effective leader. —JMW

Babies toys ecology 28. Amelia Earhart

Even before she became known as the first female pilot to cross the Atlantic, Amelia Earhart was already going against gender norms at a young age in the early 1900s by playing basketball and attending college. But Earhart‘s life would change forever on December 28, 1920, when Frank Hawks, a WWI pilot, gave her a ride in a plane. From that day on, she knew she had to fly. Earhart went on to set many aviation records, becoming the first woman to fly alone at 14,000 feet, the first woman to complete a solo nonstop transcontinental flight, and the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. While her career was cut short when she tragically disappeared over the Pacific in 1937, Earhart was an inspiration and advocate for female pilots. —KR

Babies toys ecology 29. Empress Dowager Cixi

Qing Dynasty Empress Dowager Cixi began her adult life as a concubine, but she ended it as China’s most powerful woman. Though she technically served as the regent for the emperor—her young son, and after his death, her nephew—while he was still a minor, in reality, she effectively controlled the empire behind the scenes for 47 years, killing off her enemies when necessary. Scholars are still sorting through her effect on Chinese history, debating whether she was a murderous, greedy reactionary who clung to power at the expense of much-needed reforms, or a shrewd ruler who kept a doomed dynasty afloat for nearly half a century, modernizing China while maintaining political order. There is no doubt, however, that she changed the country forever, abolishing some forms of torture, encouraging freedom of the press, and moving China toward a constitutional monarchy. —SF

Babies toys ecology 30. Zelda Fitzgerald

Zelda Fitzgerald was a fashion icon, a living emblem of the Jazz Age who became known as the first American flapper. Fitzgerald, who struggled with mental illness for most of her life, was a writer and artist in her own right, but she’s most often remembered for being her husband’s muse. Without Zelda’s influence, it’s likely that The Great Gatsby‘s Daisy Buchanan and other renowned characters would have been quite different. Not only did F. Scott pen dialogue that came directly from the mouth of Zelda herself, but he also perused her diaries for material. Daisy’s assertion that she hopes her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool,” for example, is exactly what Zelda said after the birth of her daughter. —EG

Babies toys ecology 31. D.C. Fontana

When D.C. Fontana boarded Star Trek as a script writer in 1966, she was one of the only women working in sci-fi TV at the time. But she quickly became a vital guiding hand for the characters of the Enterprise for decades to come. Notably, her script for the episode “Journey to Babel” helped flesh out Spock’s backstory by introducing viewers to his parents and their Vulcan customs. When Star Trek: The Next Generation launched in 1987, Fontana was hired to write the pilot script with Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, titled “Encounter at Farpoint,” which was nominated for a Hugo Award. —JS

Babies toys ecology 32. Anne Frank

In July 1942, 13-year-old Anne Frank went into hiding with her parents and sister in the secret annex of an Amsterdam building that her father, Otto, had rented for his company. While there, Anne bared her soul within the pages of a diary that would live on long after she herself was gone. The family was discovered and imprisoned in concentration camps in 1944, and Otto was the only one who survived. He published the diary, which arguably made Anne the most well-known Holocaust victim of all time. To this day, her unflagging optimism and faith in the good of others stand as symbols of hope in the face of unspeakable evil, and she represents the millions of other victims whose stories were never told. —EG

Babies toys ecology 33. Rosalind Franklin

The work of British scientist Rosalind Franklin was integral to the discovery of the structure of DNA. In 1952, while working at Kings College in London, she got the X-ray diffraction image that confirmed the double-helix theory. Today she’s just as famous for this breakthrough as she is for what happened next: After seeing Franklin’s photo and her unpublished notes, scientists Francis Harry Compton Crick and James Dewey Watson announced their discovery to their world without sharing the credit with her. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Franklin died from ovarian cancer in 1958, possibly a result of her work with radiation, but her work on viruses and DNA continued to changed the fields of science after her death. —MD

Babies toys ecology 34. Elizebeth Friedman

Elizebeth Friedman has been called America’s first female cryptanalyst. In her spare time, she cracked codes with her husband, geneticist-turned-cryptographer William, a.k.a., the guy who cracked Japan’s Code Purple during World War II; together, they worked on the Voynich Manuscript and weighed in on whether Francis Bacon was the true author of Shakespeare’s works (their verdict: He wasn’t). At work, Elizebeth cracked codes for the Coast Guard during Prohibition and, during WWII, worked for a predecessor to the CIA, helping the FBI track down Nazi spies and busting Axis spy rings with British intelligence agencies. Her contributions only came to light recently; after the war, J. Edgar Hoover classified her work top secret and took all the credit for himself. —EMC

Babies toys ecology 35. Indira Gandhi

As India’s first—and so far, only—female prime minister, Indira Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, and led the nation for almost 16 years nonconsecutively, before her assassination in October 1984. During her tenure, which is still the second-longest in India’s history, her accomplishments proved to have lasting consequences for her country, its allies, and even its enemies. She famously guided India through a war with Pakistan, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh, and controversially enacted a 21-month state of emergency, restricting many constitutional rights of her citizens. For some, she’s a revered nationalist—to others, her legacy is far more complicated. But there’s no doubt that she changed the world. —JS

Babies toys ecology 36. Joan Ganz Cooney

After years of television being decried as a vast wasteland of empty entertainment, Joan Ganz Cooney arrived to the medium in 1969 with an idea for real change. A journalist and producer, Cooney pursued an educational program vetted by child experts that could impart practical skills while keeping kids interested. With the help of visionaries in several fields, she created Sesame Street, a pivotal step in TV’s evolution. A half-century later, Cooney’s ambition is still welcoming viewers to the neighborhood. —JR

Babies toys ecology 37. Martha Gellhorn

Where there was war, there was Martha Gellhorn. The intrepid journalist covered various 20th-century conflicts, from the Spanish Civil War to the United States’s invasion of Panama. During World War II, Gellhorn was the only woman to land at Normandy on D-Day—a feat she accomplished by hiding in the bathroom of a hospital ship because she didn’t have the proper press credentials. While Ernest Hemingway, her then-husband, watched the action from a safe distance with other journalists, Gellhorn worked as a stretcher bearer, weaving around the bloodied beach to whisk injured soldiers to safety. —KW

Babies toys ecology 38. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall was only 26 years old when she started studying chimpanzees in the wild. She had no formal scientific training, and the fresh perspective she brought with her into the field enabled her to make groundbreaking observations. Her discoveries, such as the fact that chimps make and use tools, shaped the way we think about primate intelligence. Today she continues to give talks around the world championing the rights of apes and other animals. —MD

Babies toys ecology 39. Juliette Gordon Low

When Savannah-raised Juliette Gordon Low met Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, in 1911, she immediately began wondering why there wasn’t any equivalent organization for American girls. Within a year, she had founded the Girl Scouts, opening its doors to young women. Millions of girls learned to be leaders by following in Low’s footsteps. —JR

Babies toys ecology 40. Temple Grandin

Dr. Temple Grandin’s work to improve animal welfare in the livestock industry is certainly enough to land her on this list—among other contributions, the livestock handling facilities she designed are used around the world, and she also developed more humane methods of slaughter that are now the industry standard. But Grandin, who is on the autism spectrum, hasn’t just made things better for livestock: Her candor and commitment to helping others see the world through her eyes have deepened our understanding of what autism is. Grandin has not only been an invaluable case study for scientists, but a spokesperson and advocate for others like her. —EG

Babies toys ecology 41. Ruth Graves Wakefield

There are nearly as many variations on the story of the invention of the chocolate chip cookie as there are variations on the chocolate chip cookie itself, but they all have one very important thing in common: Ruth Graves Wakefield. In the 1930s, Wakefield was experimenting with cookie recipes at the Toll House Inn, which she ran with her husband in Massachusetts, when she decided to modify her Butter Drop Do pecan cookies by adding baker’s chocolate. According to the most popular version of the story, Wakefield didn’t have any baker’s chocolate available, so she hacked up a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar instead. Much to her surprise, the bits of chocolate didn’t melt, and Wakefield ended up with the world’s first chocolate chip cookie. (Though in reality she was probably deliberately experimenting with cookie recipes.) Her recipe was printed in a Boston newspaper, and by 1939 Nestlé had started selling the semi-sweet morsels in bags and printing the “Toll House cookie” recipe on each wrapper—which it still does today. —EG

Babies toys ecology 42. Sarah Josepha Hale

In addition to penning poems (one of which is believed to have been turned into the ever-popular earworm “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” though some people give the credit for that to John Roulstone), Sarah Josepha Hale helmed the magazine Godey’s Ladies’ Book, using her platform to champion women’s education while simultaneously cautioning against the women’s suffrage movement. The influential editor is also referred to as the “mother of Thanksgiving” because she spent decades lobbying for the creation of an official holiday and shaping much of the mythology behind the celebratory feast. —KW

Babies toys ecology 43. Ruth Handler

Ruth Handler’s company, Mattel, was a success early on. The toy manufacturer made millions marketing toy pianos and music boxes. But it was the introduction of Barbie in 1959 that secured Handler’s legacy. Named after her daughter—she also had a son named Ken—Barbie made Handler and her husband, Elliot, rich and prompted generations of girls typically underserved by the toy industry to create worlds in Dream Houses and Corvettes. Barbie would later take on more responsibility as a career woman, which was more in line with Handler’s trajectory as someone whose success in business was not to be toyed with. —JR

Babies toys ecology 44. Beulah Louise Henry

Beulah Louise Henry was born in 1887, a few years after Thomas Edison patented his light bulb. By the 1930s, she had enough inventions to her name that she had earned the title “Lady Edison.” The products she created included an ice cream freezer, a soap-filled sponge, and the first bobbinless sewing machine. She obtained 49 patents in her lifetime and devised even more inventions that were never patented. —MD

Babies toys ecology 45. Caroline Herschel

After Caroline Herschel escaped a future as her family’s housekeeper and moved to England, her life began looking up—literally. When her brother William abandoned his musical endeavors to pursue his passion for astronomy—a career switch that paid off, as he discovered the planet Uranus—Herschel worked as his assistant. The 4-foot, 3-inches tall woman had a big impact on astronomy. In 1786, she discovered her first comet. Herschel wound up discovering several comets, was the first woman to receive a Gold Medal from London’s Royal Astronomical Society, and was the first female astronomer to be paid for her work. —KW

Babies toys ecology 46. Clare Hollingworth

British war reporter Clare Hollingworth caught her first big scoop just a week after she started a new job as a correspondent for The Telegraph in Poland in 1939: She was the first journalist to break the news that Germany had invaded Poland, kicking off World War II. She went on to a 40-plus-year career covering conflicts in Eastern Europe, Greece, India, and Vietnam, and elsewhere across the world, outsmarting censors, evading injury and arrest behind enemy lines, and circumventing restrictions imposed on female reporters in the process. She remained known for her incredible scoops and impressive sourcing. She was the first journalist to interview Mohammad Reza Pahlavi in 1941 after he became shah of Iran, and opened the Beijing Bureau of The Telegraph in 1973, becoming one of the first Western reporters to file regular stories from China. She died in Hong Kong at the age of 105, reportedly still sleeping with her passport and shoes within arm’s reach, just in case she was called up to go cover another war. —SF

Babies toys ecology 47. Grace Hopper

Software engineers who tackle computer bugs have Grace Hopper to thank for their job description. The Harvard University computer scientist and rear admiral of the U.S. Navy, who was one of the first programmers of a Mark I computer, was the first to coin the term bug in reference to a flaw that causes errors in a computer system. Though the term bug had been used since the late 19th century, in Hopper’s case the bug was literal: In 1947, her coworkers opened up the hardware of Harvard’s Mark II computer to diagnose the source of a consistent error, only to find a moth inside. Hopper recorded the incident in the computer’s log book—under the taped body of the moth itself—as the “first actual case of bug being found.” Her contributions to computer science weren’t just lexical, though. Among other things, she helped develop the world’s first successful commercial computer, the UNIVAC I, and was critical to the development and proliferation of the programming language COBOL, at one point the most widely used programming language in the world. —SF

Babies toys ecology 48. Dolores Huerta

For decades, César Chávez has been celebrated as the face of the farm workers’ rights movement of the 20th century, but his collaborator, Dolores Huerta, deserves just as much of the credit. Huerta grew up in Stockton, California, in the heart of California’s agricultural community, and got her start as activist in the Stockton Community Service Organization, which fought for Latino civil rights. It was through the CSO that Huerta met Chávez, another activist interested in organizing farm workers, and in 1962, they founded the National Farm Workers Association (which later became the United Farm Workers of America) together. While Chávez’s charisma helped spread the message, Huerta’s formidable lobbying and negotiating skills—including the nationwide grape boycotts she helped organize—were key in securing some of the first rights for farm workers in California, including disability insurance for injured workers and the right to organize unions and bargain for better wages. And it was the slogan she came up with—Sí, se puede, which is generally translated to “Yes, we can” or “It can be done”—that became the movement’s rallying cry. Now almost in her nineties, Huerta still works as an activist for equality and civil rights and works to elect more women and people of color to political office. —SF

Babies toys ecology 49. Jane Jacobs

Lower Manhattan would look radically different today if not for the efforts of Jane Jacobs, an urban activist who took on New York City’s powerful “master builder” Robert Moses in the mid-20th century. Her ideas about urban design, enumerated in her seminal book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, were in stark opposition to the car-centric “urban renewal” policies that were remaking cities in the 1950s and 1960s. Jacobs advocated for dense, walkable neighborhoods where a bustling “sidewalk ballet” of people of all ages, races, and incomes going about their daily business at all hours would provide a natural sense of order and safety, thanks to the numerous “eyes on the street” deterring crime. Jacobs’s theories and grassroots activism were instrumental in turning public opinion against Moses’s plans to build highways through Lower Manhattan in the 1950s and 1960s, including both his plan to install a four-lane road through the West Village’s famous Washington Square Park and his larger idea for the Lower Manhattan Expressway, a proposed 10-lane highway that would have obliterated parts of Little Italy and other neighborhoods. In the process, Jacobs changed the way urban designers and planners thought about cities forever. —SF

Babies toys ecology 50. Lois Jenson

With Jenson v. Eveleth Taconite Co., Minnesota miner Lois Jenson became the first person to ever file a class-action sexual harassment lawsuit in U.S. federal court. Jenson and several other women filed the 1988 suit after spending years working in hostile conditions at the EVTAC mine in Eveleth, Minnesota, where women were regularly groped, harassed, threatened, verbally abused, and more by their male coworkers. She spent the subsequent decade in court fighting the company that managed the mine, before settling in 1998. The lawsuit was the first to treat sexual harassment as a systemic problem, rather than an individual issue, and established that corporations are responsible for maintaining non-hostile work environments. Jenson’s hard-fought lawsuit—which served as the influence for the 2005 film North Country—helped lay the groundwork for today’s #MeToo movement. —SF

Babies toys ecology 51. Katherine Johnson

While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were preparing to be the first men to land on the moon, a team of “human computers” were working tirelessly to get them there. One of these mathematicians was a NASA employee named Katherine Johnson. Johnson’s calculations were vital to pulling off the Apollo 11 mission, but because she was a black woman, her work went unrecognized for decades. The 101-year-old, who passed away on February 24, 2020, has since been lauded with awards and in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures (2016). —MD

Babies toys ecology 52. Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo’s signature self-portraits adorn everything from museum walls to phone cases. Though she didn’t exclusively paint herself, the 20th-century Mexican painter repeatedly used her own likeness—unibrow and mustache proudly included—to explore themes of disability, motherhood and miscarriage, sexuality, politics and more. In both her lifetime and now, she was instantly recognizable by her embrace of traditional Tehuana dress from her mother’s native Oaxaca—huipil blouses and colorful skirts that, in addition to being an eye-catching affirmation of her national identity, also served to hide casts and back braces she wore to deal with the devastating effects of a streetcar accident and childhood polio on her spine and lower body. Along with her husband, fellow artist Diego Rivera, Kahlo was also a dedicated Communist who helped bring Leon Trotsky to Mexico a few years after the Russian revolutionary was exiled from the Soviet Union. (Kahlo and Trotksy would go on to have a brief affair, and she would dedicate one of her famous self portraits to him.) Though she was a well-known figure in artistic circles by her death in 1954, the provocative, eccentric artist has since become an international artistic and feminist icon. —SF

Babies toys ecology 53. Susan Kare

Computers are cold, calculating machines by their very nature, so when they began appearing in homes worldwide in the ‘80s and ‘90s, they needed to have a consumer-friendly face that made users comfortable at the keyboard. And that’s exactly what graphic artist Susan Kare provided when she began her work at Apple in the early 1980s. She was responsible for fonts like Cairo and Chicago, the command key symbol (⌘), and plenty of everyday desktop icons, like the floppy disk picture that indicates “Save.” These may seem simple on the surface, but they helped establish a universal visual language for the new computer age that allowed both serious tech-heads and newcomers alike to communicate with each other and their desktop machines with ease. —JS

Babies toys ecology 54. Helen Keller

After an unknown illness caused Helen Keller to lose both sight and hearing at just 19 months old, things looked bleak for the young girl. Resources and opportunities for disabled individuals were scarce in the late 19th century, and Keller’s parents struggled to help their daughter, who seemed to be growing increasingly frustrated. However, with the guidance of teacher Anne Sullivan, Keller learned to read Braille and communicate through signing, and graduated from Radcliffe College (the all-female counterpart to the then-all-male Harvard) in 1904. She helped found the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920 and continued to be an indefatigable human rights advocate until her death in 1968—making her a role model for many to this day. —EG

Babies toys ecology 55. Margaret E. Knight

Sack lunches would look radically different if it weren’t for Margaret E. Knight, the 19th-century inventor who gave us the paper bag. The self-taught engineer came up with numerous technological advances during her lifetime, inventing a game-changing safety mechanism for the accident-prone looms of cotton mills when she was just 12 and eventually patenting more than 20 ideas throughout her career. Her most influential work came about as a result of a job Knight took folding bags at the Columbia Paper Bag company in Massachusetts. In an effort to improve the laborious process, Knight built a machine that could cut and fold paper into bags automatically, transforming flat-bottomed paper bags into a cheap, efficient product for daily use. (Previously, grocers packed customers’ produce into paper cones.) She patented the machine—a version of which is now housed in the Smithsonian—in 1871, changing lunches and grocery runs forever. —SF

Babies toys ecology 56. Katia Krafft

Katia Krafft and her husband Maurice spent more than two decades traveling the globe, visiting hundreds of the world’s volcanoes and toying with fate to inch as close to the action as possible. To fund their work, the “Volcano Devils” sold photos and footage of the eruptions they witnessed. But Katia and Maurice didn’t just do it for the thrills—the duo was determined to educate the public about the risks of volcanoes and advocate for better evacuation procedures. Tragically, Katia and Maurice were caught in a pyroclastic flow on Japan’s Mount Unzen in 1991 and perished along with 41 other people. —KW

Babies toys ecology 57. Stephanie Kwolek

Superman may have been bulletproof, but it was a woman who figured out how to stop bullets in the real world. In 1965, Stephanie Kwolek was working as a chemist for DuPont when she struck upon a formula for synthetic fiber made of polyamides that looked peculiar in liquid crystalline form but could be spun into an ultra-strong material. The discovery led to Kevlar, which is five times stronger than steel and able to stop a bullet. The armor has saved the lives of countless law enforcement and military officials. —JR

Babies toys ecology 58. Susan LaFlesche Picotte

When she was 8 years old, Susan LaFlesche Picotte sat at the bedside of a dying old woman. She soon realized that a doctor never came—despite having been summoned four times—because the woman was a Native American. The incident made Picotte, a member of the Omaha tribe, determined to help heal her people. In 1889, she graduated valedictorian from Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, becoming the first Native American to earn a medical degree. Picotte then returned home, where she spent the rest of her life tending to the ill and working to improve healthcare on the reservation. —KW

Babies toys ecology 59. Henrietta Lacks

In 1951, 31-year-old mother of five Henrietta Lacks visited The John Hopkins Hospital to get some irregular bleeding checked out. Doctors found a malignant tumor on her cervix and, without the knowledge of Lacks or her family (as there were no established practices for consent at that time), took a sample of her cancer cells and sent them to the tissue lab of cancer and virus researcher Dr. George Gey. Gey took samples from every cervical cancer patient visiting Johns Hopkins, but Lacks’s cells were different from all the rest: Those other cells died. Lacks’s cells, on the other hand, doubled roughly every 24 hours.

Lacks herself passed away on October 4, 1951, but her cells—known as HeLa, for the first two initials of her first and last names—lived on. They were the first cells that could be easily reproduced in a lab setting, and, for a time, according to Johns Hopkins Medical website, “the only human cell line able to reproduce indefinitely.” Johns Hopkins shared the cells freely, and today, it’s difficult to find an area of medicine that HeLa hasn’t touched: They’ve played a part in everything from studying the effects of zero gravity on cells to the development of things like the polio vaccine, chemotherapy, cloning, and in vitro fertilization. As journalist Rebecca Sloot wrote in her book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, “[One] scientist calculated that if you could lay all HeLa cells ever grown end-to-end, they’d wrap around the Earth at least three times, spanning more than 350 million feet.” —EMC

Babies toys ecology 60. Hedy Lamarr

A star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Hedy Lamarr is also the co-holder of United States Patent number 2,292,387, a system for frequency-hopping in telecommunications that’s often cited as a predecessor to today’s wireless networks. Lamarr held the patent with film composer George Antheil: The two formulated a way for radio signals to “hop” at random, making sense only if the sender and receiver were tuned in to the same frequency. Lamarr, who passed away on January 19, 2000, lived long enough to see the interconnected world that she and Antheil helped usher in. —JR

Babies toys ecology 61. Dorothea Lange

To think that an event as harrowing and complex as the Great Depression could be summed up in one picture just doesn’t seem possible. But photographer Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother (1936) manages to perfectly capture the dread and anxiety of the times, without coming across as exploitive. During the 1930s, Lange was working as a photographer for the government’s Resettlement Administration in California, which tasked her with taking pictures of struggling farmers and the conditions they lived in to raise public awareness of their issues and help get aid. The iconic photo, featuring a world-weary mother named Florence Owens Thompson, a member of the Cherokee nation, staring off into the distance. It soon found its way into a San Francisco newspaper, along with a damning editorial titled “What Does the ‘New Deal’ Mean To This Mother and Her Children?”

The image struck a nerve, and much-needed food and supplies were soon sent to the farmers of Nipomo, California, where the picture was taken. The photo would eventually find its way into other papers, like The New York Times, on its way to becoming one of the most memorable images of the 20th century. In later interviews, though, Thompson would reveal her dismay in becoming an unintentional part of history, telling the Los Angeles Times, “I didn’t get anything out of it. I wished she hadn’t of taken my picture.” Lange supposedly felt regret over causing Thompson any grief, but the rift wasn’t mended by the time Lange passed away in 1965.  —JS

Babies toys ecology 62. Edmonia Lewis

The orphaned child of a black father and a Native-American mother, Edmonia Lewis beat the odds to become a prolific 19th-century sculptor. The New York native studied art at Oberlin College, and though she wasn’t able to take the anatomy classes that were exclusive to white men at the time, her sculptures were impressive enough to earn her international acclaim. Lewis’s subjects included Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Horace Greeley, and President Ulysses S. Grant was one of her patrons. Her work challenged the norms of the overwhelmingly white and male art world decades before the scene started to open up to different types of artists. —MD

Babies toys ecology 63. Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace’s mother separated from her husband, Lord Byron, soon after their daughter Ada was born. She was determined to educate Ada in math and science as opposed to poetry and art, the domains of her profligate and unfaithful ex. Fortunately, Ada had a knack for numbers. She corresponded with fellow British mathematician Charles Babbage, who had devised (but not built) an “Analytical Engine” that could perform arithmetic functions—in other words, a computer. In 1843 Lovelace translated a French paper about the engine and included her own extensive annotations describing how it could execute calculations, constituting what many scholars consider the first computer program. Though she died at just 36 years old, her legacy is remembered each year on the second Tuesday in October: Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women in science. —KL

Babies toys ecology 64. Sybil Ludington

Two years after Paul Revere’s midnight ride, Sybil Ludington, a 16-year-old daughter of a member of the New York militia, reportedly rode twice as far—in a storm, no less—to warn 400 patriots about a British attack on Danbury, Connecticut. Though the militia arrived too late to save the town, they were able to drive back the troops. For her rain-soaked ride, Sybil was supposedly thanked by George Washington himself. —EMC

Babies toys ecology 65. Wangari Maathai

More than 51 million trees have been planted across Kenya, thanks to Wangari Maathai. After becoming the first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a Ph.D., Maathai recognized the need to address the link between environmental degradation, poverty, and women’s well-being. In 1977, she started the Green Belt Movement, a grassroots organization that combats poverty and ecological destruction by working with rural women to plant trees. She endured harassment from corrupt politicians, jail time, and even a stint in Kenya’s Parliament while pursuing her environmental and humanitarian mission. In 2004, Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. —KW

Babies toys ecology 66. Elizabeth Magie

Today’s version of Monopoly is basically “Capitalism: The Game,” but it was originally invented by Elizabeth “Lizzie” Magie to teach the perils of land-grabbing. Magie was a devotee of Georgism, the economic theory that states that economic value generated by land should be equally distributed to everyone. When Magie designed The Landlord’s Game in 1904, she felt it clearly demonstrated the unfairness of the landlord-ruled housing system. A few decades later, Parker Brothers purchased her patent of the game for a flat fee of $500, and its original message as well as its inventor were quickly forgotten. Monopoly has since grown into the most successful board game of all time. —MD

Babies toys ecology 67. Margaret Mead

Today, we think it’s a given that your family and community shape the person you become. That once-revolutionary concept was defined and popularized by the world-famous anthropologist Margaret Mead. Before graduating from Columbia University, Mead traveled to Samoa in 1925 to investigate a question of human nature: Was adolescence a struggle due to biology, or because of cultural influences? She spent nine months observing Indigenous society and concluded in Coming of Age in Samoa, her bestselling 1928 book, that culture largely determined one’s adolescent experience. The book was a sensation thanks to its frank descriptions of sexuality, and launched Mead into a long career. Just as important as her scientific work, Mead was an outspoken advocate for women’s equality, racial equality, sexual freedom, and the environment. —KL

Babies toys ecology 68. Maria Mitchell

On the roof of the Pacific Bank building in her native Nantucket, on October 1, 1847, Maria Mitchell became the first American scientist to discover a comet. It was nicknamed “Miss Mitchell’s Comet” (actual name: C/1847 T1) after the 29-year-old astronomer, librarian, and teacher, and launched her to international fame as a pioneering science educator. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Philosophical Society, Mitchell was probably one of the first women to work for the U.S. government in a scientific job (she calculated navigational data for the U.S. Coast Survey). She was involved in the anti-slavery and feminist movements while she served as a professor of astronomy at Vassar College—importantly, she recognized the value of women’s talent and perspective in the sciences and campaigned tirelessly for women’s education. —KL

Babies toys ecology 69. Audrey Munson

Audrey Munson is no longer a household name, but plenty of people have seen her likeness. Munson, often called the world’s first supermodel, served as an artist’s model for dozens of statues, sculptures, and other public works in New York City and across the country. You can still find her likeness in some 30 artworks currently housed in the Museum of Metropolitan Art, on the Manhattan Bridge, on top of Manhattan’s Municipal Building, at the New York Public Library, and elsewhere. She was the model for more than a dozen statues that appeared at a world’s fair in San Francisco in 1915, posed for artists like Daniel Chester French, and starred in silent films. At the height of her fame she was known as an “American Venus” and “Miss Manhattan.” However, changing aesthetic styles, public scandals, and mental health challenges eventually pushed Munson out of the spotlight, and she spent the last 64 years of her life institutionalized in upstate New York. —SF

Babies toys ecology 70. Zora Neale Hurston

Best known as an author associated with the Harlem Renaissance, Zora Neale Hurston explored and celebrated the roots of African-American culture in her nonfiction and fiction, short stories, essays, and plays. Her 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God broke literary tradition by featuring a black female protagonist in the South who becomes a self-aware, self-reliant woman. That book, and all of her literary work, was influenced by her early career as an anthropologist: Hurston studied at Barnard College with Franz Boas and observed the folkways among African American communities in the South as well as the African Diaspora in Jamaica and Haiti. But her efforts were ahead of their time, and Hurston died relatively unknown in 1960. In 1975, the novelist Alice Walker wrote a moving article in Ms. about locating Hurston’s grave, which led to a reappraisal of Hurston’s writing that continues today. Most recently, Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo”—Hurston’s interview with one of the last survivors of the final slave ship to reach America—was published posthumously in 2018. —KL

Babies toys ecology 71. Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale, the “founder of modern nursing,” surprised her well-off family by choosing to enter the field, which was then considered a profession for lower-class women. Her decision to buck convention saved countless lives. Nightingale’s medical prowess gained prominence during the Crimean War, where she drastically improved sanitation conditions at the once-filthy medic center where she worked. After the conflict, she went on to further revolutionize nursing and hospital hygiene back home in the United Kingdom and abroad. —KW

Babies toys ecology 72. Flannery O’Connor

Widely considered one of the great masters of the American short story, Georgia-born writer Flannery O’Connor managed to write two novels and dozens of now-classic short stories despite a debilitating battle with lupus that eventually killed her when she was just 39. Her tales of violence and mystery in the American South are the foundational texts of the Southern Gothic tradition, exploring racism, religion, poverty, hypocrisy, and more in darkly comic prose. But her cultural impact stretches beyond the literary: U2, Bruce Springsteen, and Sufjan Stevens have all cited her as a major influence on their work, as have filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen and numerous modern writers. —SF

Babies toys ecology 73. Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks became a part of American history when she refused to give up her bus seat for a white passenger in 1955, but her legacy doesn’t end there. The Alabama native was active in politics her whole life: She worked for the NAACP, participated in protests during the Civil Rights Movement, and served as the assistant to U.S. Representative John Conyers. Though many suspected her most famous act of civil disobedience was premeditated, she always insisted it wasn’t planned. —MD

Babies toys ecology 74. Dolly Parton

The music business can be ruthless, as evidenced by Taylor Swift’s recent struggles to maintain ownership of her back catalog can attest. But Dolly Parton, a country music sensation since the 1960s, has long been the steward of her own ship, retaining control of much of her music and using the proceeds for everything from unlikely business success stories (the Dollywood theme park) to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which has distributed more than 132 million books to instill a love of reading in young people. In music, Parton explored genres and wrote and performed lyrics that were seen as progressive in their era, speaking directly to working-class women who felt like they weren’t being given a voice. They had at least one—Parton’s. —JR

Babies toys ecology 75. Frances Perkins

You may not know her name, but you’ve definitely felt the impact of Frances Perkins’s work in your own life. As President Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, she was the first woman to ever be appointed to a presidential cabinet and was instrumental in blueprinting FDR’s New Deal, including his Social Security plan. She also helped establish a minimum wage with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and was part of the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a jobs program that provided work to many of the country’s unemployed. —JS

Babies toys ecology 76. Beatrix Potter

Best known for her books in the early 1900s about anthropomorphic animals like Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter created a franchise and merchandising frenzy roughly 100 years prior to J.K. Rowling. Not only a bestselling author, Potter had the foresight to recognize her children’s characters could have a second life in dolls, toys, and other items, making her a pioneer in the multimedia tie-in strategy prized by entertainment companies today. —JR

Babies toys ecology 77. Aly Raisman

Yes, 25-year-old Aly Raisman is a two-time Olympian and winner of six medals, including three gold, in gymnastics. And yes, she’s the athlete behind one of the most difficult tumbling sequences in the sport. But her power on the mat is nothing compared to the power of her voice. Raisman is also the survivor of sexual assault, which she—and hundreds of other female athletes—experienced at the hands of USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. For Raisman, the abuse began when she was 16 and continued for years. When Raisman faced her abuser in court, she told Nassar, “Larry, you do realize now that we, this group of women you so heartlessly abused over such a long period of time, are now a force and you are nothing … We have our voices, and we are not going anywhere.”

Nassar was sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for his crimes, in addition to hundreds of years of charges at the state level. But in a 2017 piece penned for The Players’ Tribune, Raisman made it clear that punishing Nassar wasn’t enough. “We need to change the systems that embolden sexual abusers,” she wrote. “We must look at the organizations that protected Nassar for years and years: USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and Michigan State University. Until we understand the flaws in their systems, we can’t be sure something like this won’t happen again.” Raisman made it her mission to enact change: In March 2018, she filed suit against USA Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee. “Thousands of young athletes continue to train and compete every day in this same broken system,” Raisman said in a statement. “I refuse to wait any longer for these organizations to do the right thing. It is my hope that the legal process will hold them accountable and enable the change that is so desperately needed.”

As Raisman defiantly declared in The Players’ Tribune, “I am not a victim. I am a survivor.” —EMC

Babies toys ecology 78. Sally Ride

After beating out 1000 other applicants, Sally Ride earned a spot in NASA’s astronaut program. And eventually on June 18, 1983, Ride was on the Challenger mission, making her the first American woman to journey to outer space. After NASA, Ride went on to start her own educational nonprofit organization called Sally Ride Science, which works to get young students interested in science as well as math. Ride passed away on July 23, 2012, at the age of 61, following a long (and very private) battle with pancreatic cancer. It wasn’t until her death that Ride’s longtime relationship with Tam O’Shaughnessy—a childhood friend and science writer—was made public. Which meant that even in death, Ride was still changing the world, as she became the world’s first (known) LGBTQ astronaut. —KR

Babies toys ecology 79. Sylvia Rivera

Sylvia Rivera became a key figure in LGBTQ history when she took part in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969, but her crusade for gay and transgender rights extended well beyond a single night. Rivera, who self-identified as a drag queen (later saying “I’m tired of being labeled … I just want to be who I am”), fought to include trans people in the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in New York and co-founded a group to help gay and trans young people without homes. In 2021, she will be commemorated with fellow trans activist Marsha P. Johnson with a monument near the Stonewall Inn. —MD

Babies toys ecology 80. Emily Roebling

The Brooklyn Bridge, one of the most recognizable landmarks in New York City, would never have been finished if not for the efforts of Emily Roebling, who took over the task of overseeing the immense building project after Washington Roebling, her husband and the bridge’s chief engineer, was incapacitated by “the bends” during construction. She not only became his secretary, ferrying his instructions to workers and answering his correspondence, but she also negotiated contracts and supply purchases, represented him at political and social functions, and became a liaison to the board of trustees. She began to study technical issues on her own, essentially becoming a self-taught civil engineer. Roebling mastered topics like stress analysis, catenary curves, and cable strength. In recognition of her contributions, Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge when it opened in 1883. She went on to graduate from New York University’s then-new Woman’s Law Class in 1899, and traveled the country speaking on women’s rights. —SF

Babies toys ecology 81. Eleanor Roosevelt

Independent-minded and forward-thinking, Eleanor Roosevelt’s tenure as First Lady broke the mold of what was previously expected from the position. Not content with just hosting parties and posing for photo ops, Eleanor held the first-ever press conferences solely for women reporters at the White House, was a regular presence on the radio, and wrote a syndicated newspaper column on politics and social issues six days a week. These progressive accomplishments were natural for a woman who spent her pre-White House years as a member of the League of Women Voters and as an advocate for women’s rights and employment opportunities.

Even after FDR’s death, Eleanor continued her humanitarian efforts. She was named a United Nations delegate by President Harry Truman in 1945, and in 1948, she helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the U.N. —JS

Babies toys ecology 82. Vera Rubin

Astronomer Vera Rubin was studying spiral galaxies at the Carnegie Institution in the 1960s and 1970s when she and colleague Kent Ford began seeing anomalies in their data: The galaxies they observed were spinning much faster than they should have been, according to gravitational theory. With this observation, Rubin became the first to discover compelling evidence for the phenomenon Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky had called “dark matter.” Zwicky’s theory that there was an unseeable type of mass in the universe had met plenty of skepticism when he introduced it in 1933, but decades later, Rubin’s work (both the data and the clarity of the analysis) provided such unambiguous confirmation that the scientific world had to get on board with the idea. She was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1993 “for significant contributions to the realization that the universe is more complex and more mysterious than had been imagined.” —SF

Babies toys ecology 83. Sacagawea

Not much is known about Sacagawea, the only woman on Lewis and Clark’s groundbreaking Corps of Discovery across the continent. Here’s what we do know: She was born in the late 1780s to a Shoshone chief in present-day Idaho. When she was around 12, she was taken prisoner by the Hidatsa, an enemy tribe, who brought her back to the Hidatsa-Mandan settlement in present day North Dakota. A few years later, she was sold to Toussaint Charbonneau, a French-Canadian trapper who was at least 20 years older than her. She became his wife—one of two—and was soon pregnant.

Sacagawea was about six months along when Lewis and Clark reached the settlement, and they decided that they wanted to bring Charbonneau and Sacagawea on the rest of the journey for their language skills: He spoke French and Hidatsa, she spoke Hidatsa and Shoshone—which would be key for getting the Corps horses, necessary for getting over the Rockies and to the Pacific. (She would listen to the Shoshone, and translate into Hidatsa; her husband would translate the Hidatsa into French; and another member of the Corps would translate the French into English for Lewis and Clark.) Sacagawea gave birth to a son named Jean-Baptiste in February, and in April, the Corps departed.

Sacagawea quickly proved to be good under pressure; when a boat she was riding in nearly capsized, she saved important papers, instruments, and provisions. She served as translator for the Shoshone so the expedition could purchase horses, identified plants for food and medicine, and helped the Corps navigate what is today known as Bozeman Pass. Her mere presence was helpful; as Clark wrote, “The Wife of Shabono our interpreter We find reconsiles all the Indians, as to our friendly intentions. A woman with a party of men is a token of peace.” With her help, the Corps made it to the Pacific and back to the Hidatsa-Mandan settlement. Her husband received land and money for his services; Sacagawea received nothing. Clark would later write to Charbonneau that “Your woman who accompanied you that long dangerous and fatigueing rout to the Pacific Ocian and back diserved a greater reward for her attention and services on that rout than we had in our power to give her at the Mandans.” Sacagawea almost certainly died in present-day South Dakota in 1812 after giving birth to a daughter. Though she wasn’t a guide, as some have claimed, one thing is for certain: Lewis and Clark’s journey would have been much more difficult if not for her help. —EMC

Babies toys ecology 84. Margaret Sanger

Margaret Sanger devoted her career to making sure women could make choices about their reproductive lives. She fought to provide women with birth control options in an age when federal law classified contraceptives as obscene, banning anyone from sending information about them—much less contraceptives themselves—across state lines or in the mail. Over the course of decades of activism, Sanger was responsible for popularizing the term birth control, founding what would later become Planned Parenthood, and supporting the development of the very first oral contraceptive, all in an effort to end the mental, physical, and economic toll that numerous pregnancies (not to mention dangerous illegal abortions) took on women. Unfortunately, not all of Sanger’s historical contributions were for the greater good. She was also a vocal supporter of eugenics, arguing that birth control was vital to limit “the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.” —SF

Babies toys ecology 85. Sophie Scholl

As a schoolgirl, Sophie Scholl joined the League of German Girls along with her peers, but later grew skeptical. While at the University of Munich, she joined the Weiße Rose (White Rose), a protest group her brother Hans had started. The rebel students wrote and distributed leaflets urging the public to resist the Nazi regime. The two Scholl siblings and one other White Rose member were caught on February 18 and arrested for treason. The three were beheaded by guillotine just four days later. —KW

Babies toys ecology 86. Marie Severin

In the comic book industry of the ‘50s and ‘60s, it was hard enough to find books starring women—to think that a woman would be working behind the scenes was even more rare. But a talent like Marie Severin couldn’t be denied. For years, Severin was a Swiss Army knife for publishers like EC Comics and Marvel, providing pencils, inks, and colors (even becoming Head Colorist at one point) on books like The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Sorceror Supreme, Conan the Barbarian, and plenty more. Her most enduring contribution to the company, though, came in 1976 when she designed the original costume design for the Jessica Drew version of Spider-Woman. —JS

Babies toys ecology 87. Mary Shelley

Frankenstein—the novel often credited with launching the science fiction genre—was conceived by an 18-year-old girl as part of a ghost story competition between Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and her boyfriend Percy Shelley. Mary Shelley anonymously published Frankenstein two years later. Even after the book was reprinted under her name, Percy Shelley—who edited the book and wrote the preface—was assumed by many to be the real author. Eventually the name Mary Shelley became synonymous with Frankenstein and today the writer’s impact on the science fiction and horror genres in literature and film are undeniable. —MD

Babies toys ecology 88. Junko Tabei

Instead of resigning herself to a life of housewife chores, Junko Tabei chased her love of the mountains. After college, she founded Japan’s first women’s climbing club, but this was just the tip of her boundary-pushing adventures. In 1975, Tabei became the first woman to summit Mount Everest—and as if standing atop the world’s tallest peak wasn’t enough, she did so after surviving an avalanche during the ascent. Tabei was also the first woman to climb the “Seven Summits,” the highest mountains on each continent. When she died of peritoneal cancer in October 2016, she had climbed more than 150 mountains and anchored her place in history as a symbol for women’s equality in Japan. —KW

Babies toys ecology 89. Shirley Temple

For Americans struggling to make ends meet during the Great Depression, Shirley Temple was a beacon of happiness and a temporary escape from their everyday woes. The tiny tap-dancing phenomenon was arguably Hollywood’s biggest star of the 1930s, outshining much older, taller peers like Greta Garbo and Clark Gable—she was even presented with an honorary Academy Award at just 6 years old. Not only did Temple give us timeless hits like “On the Good Ship Lollipop” and “Animal Crackers in My Soup,” we also have her to thank for the popular non-alcoholic cocktail responsible for keeping kids happy at restaurants and formal events everywhere (though she’d say that she had nothing to do with it and found the drink too sweet). As an adult, Temple retired from acting and pursued a career in diplomacy, and also helped normalize openly discussing breast cancer: After undergoing a mastectomy in the early 1970s, she held a press conference from her hospital bed and shared her experience with the public. —EG

Babies toys ecology 90. Valentina Tereshkova

In 1963, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to go into space, two decades before NASA sent Sally Ride on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Inspired by Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering 1961 space flight, Tereshkova—who was an enthusiastic parachutist and skydiver—wrote to the Soviet space program to volunteer herself for any future program for female cosmonauts. She was eventually chosen from a pool of five women to make the trip, and spent three days in orbit on the Vostok 6 in June 1963. Tereshkova, who was only 26 at the time of her flight, still holds the record for being the youngest woman in space and the only woman to ever fly solo in space. After her safe return, she joined the Air Force and attended the Zhukovsky Air Force Engineering Academy. She went on to be a politician and has held several different public offices i

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