Did you know a woman invented the first computer program? The research to cure cancer? Even science fiction was invented by a young woman. History tends to do a better job of telling the stories of great men. But for Women’s History Month, we want to take the time to show some brilliant women who challenged the stereotypes of the day, and made huge strides in the fields of science, civil rights, literature, and yes, skincare too!
If you’re a geeky girl, you know how important Mary Shelley is. Long considered the mother of modern science fiction and horror movies, Mary Shelley was only 16 years old when she created a literary icon in Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. At the time, she was married to Percy Bysshe Shelley and was surrounded by many great thinkers and writers of her day. The book was such a hit, many critics at the time suggested that she had supernaturally channeled the talent of the male writers in her friend group. In reality, Frankenstein’s longevity is a credit to Shelley’s own talents, and as history shows, Shelley became the mother of not one, but several entire genres of fiction.
Marie Curie is the scientist who discovered and named radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize, a feat she accomplished twice (years before women were even allowed to vote). With her husband, Curie discovered two new chemical elements and furthered the scientific cause at great personal risk. She eventually died of radiation poison. Her pioneering work allowed us to create radiation treatment, still used today to treat various cancers, including protecting your skin from melanoma skin cancers.
The story of Rosa Parks taking a seat in the white section of a segregated bus is now the stuff of legends. What often gets lost is that Rosa Parks was not there by accident. She was in fact a known activist in the fight for African American civil rights. She had worked as a secretary of her local chapter of the NAACP long before the bus boycott. After the boycott, she continued to serve the youth in her community with her organization, the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development in Detroit. She has been honored by former US president Barack Obama, and is often called the First Lady Of Civil Rights.
Ada Lovelace is considered to be the first computer programmer. The daughter of famous poet Lord Byron, was more interested in math and science than poetry and art and had an unusual upbringing for a lady at the time. Her trailblazing mother insisted she be taught mathematics and science, along with the traditional skills women of the aristocracy were encouraged toward. Around the age of 17, Lovelace met Charles Babbage, who designed the first ‘analytical engine’ which would later become a blueprint for modern computers. Lovelace herself expounded on Babbage’s work. Her ideas would eventually build on and surpass his, and she would go on to create the first computer codes, allowing the analytical machines to handle repetitive tasks. For her work, she’s often considered the first computer programmer.
Known as a style icon and beauty queen, Katherine Hepburn is so much more. She became a household name and Hollywood starlet in the 30s and 40s, with a brilliant career that spanned decades. She was also an intellectual and philanthropist and championed various causes. Known as one of the most beautiful women in the world, Hepburn had a very simple natural skincare routine, with a sugar-based exfoliant that she swore by for years! With her looks, she was definitely doing skincare right. In 1985, the Council of Fashion Designers of America presented Hepburn with its Lifetime Achievement Award, for the impact her signature ‘look’ had on the beauty world. Katherine Hepburn continues to be a timeless style icon for many even now, more than a decade after her death.
They say behind every great man is a great woman. However, behind many of the greatest shifts in history, there are women to be found. Whether it’s bringing fashion to the forefront, like Katherine Hepburn, or dominating in a male-centered field like Marie Curie, powerful women have been shaping the world throughout history.