Sophie Scholl

“Stand up for what you believe in even if you are standing alone.” ~Sophie Scholl is a symbol of Nazi-resistance, courage, and freedom. She was a member of the White Rose, a group of German students who opposed the Nazis by distributing leaflets expressing their views. As a young girl, Sophie was a member of …

Markgräfin Wilhelmine

In 2009, my family and I lived in the small Bavarian town of Bayreuth, Germany, and my daughter Maggie attended the Markgräfin Wilhelmine Gymnasium. Almost 300 years earlier, Margravine Wilhelmine had come to the small Franconian town to marry Crown Prince Friedrich. When she first arrived, she found Bayreuth to be provincial and unexciting, and …

Rachel Carson

“It is a wholesome and necessary thing for us to turn again to the earth and in the contemplation of her beauties to know of wonder and humility.” ~Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a writer, marine biologist, and ecologist. She was the Editor-in-Chief for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service publications. In her free time, she wrote …

Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was one of the first feminists. In 1792, she wrote a book called “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” which advocated for equality of men and women. She grew up with an alcoholic, violent father and had to take care of her sisters. She left home to become a “lady’s companion” …

Marie Curie

Marie Curie (1867-1934) was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the only woman to win two of them. She discovered two new elements—polonium and radium. She discovered that radium could kill diseased cells in the body, providing the foundation for later advances in treating cancer with radiation. During WWI, she dedicated herself …

Sandra Day O’Connor

“I think the most important thing about my appointment is not that I will decide cases as a woman, but that I am a woman who will get to decide cases,” said Sandra Day O’Connor, the first woman to serve as a SCOTUS justice. Born in El Paso, TX, she spent her early childhood on …

Anna Politkovskaya

Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya chronicled human rights abuses and atrocities committed in the Second Chechen War by the Russian military, Chechen rebels, and the Russian-backed Chechen administration. Her work, critical of Vladimir Putin’s government, also exposed corruption in Russian business, government, and the judiciary. She was a fierce advocate for a free press, and she …

Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin

Astrophysicist Cecilia Payne Gaposchkin (1900-1979) lived a life of firsts. She discovered that stars are made up mostly of hydrogen and helium and can be classified by their temperatures. She said: “The reward of the young scientist is the emotional thrill of being the first person in the history of the world to see something …

Unity Dow

Unity Dow was the first woman to serve as a judge on the High Court of Botswana. She has spent much of her career advocating for women’s legal rights. "When you start to practice you realize how just the language of the law is so male, the culture of the law is so male. You're …

Janet Reno

“I would like to use the law of this land to do everything I possibly can to protect America’s children from abuse and violence and to give each of them the opportunity to grow to be strong, healthy, and self-sufficient citizens,” said Janet Reno, who on March 12, 1993 was sworn in as the first …

Sally Ride

Ride Sally Ride! While I was growing up believing and lamenting the myth that girls could not be astronauts, Sally Ride was preparing to shatter the glass ceiling of Earth’s atmosphere. In 1983, she blasted off in the Challenger to become the first American women in space. “The thing that I’ll remember most about the …

Book Review: Becoming Justice Blackmun

**Reposted from February 21, 2006 on my previous blog. Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey by Linda Greenhouse In her book, Linda Greenhouse combines the expertise she has gained from her years covering the Supreme Court for the New York Times with her careful research of Justice Blackmun's papers to tell the story …

Amelia Boynton

“I was born to lead,” said Amelia Boynton. And lead she did! 52 years ago today (March 7, 2017), Amelia led hundreds across the Edmund Pettus Bridge and began the March from Selma to Montgomery. That day–Bloody Sunday–she was beaten by an officer and left for dead. Her life of voting rights activism began at …