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9 Influential Women in History

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Updated on Mar 21, 2013

Women’s History Month celebrates all women from the past, present and future, and what better way to boost your little princess’ self-esteem this March than by encouraging her to learn about the treasure trove of women she hears of again and again, through grandma’s bedtime stories, on the news, and in her own life?

Marie Curie, Nobel Prize-winning scientist

Growing up in the late 19th century, Marie Curie gained a love for learning early on in life through her well-known teacher parents. Long years of study paid off, first in her native Poland and later at the Sorbonne University in Paris, as she became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields (physics and chemistry) and the only woman to win in multiple sciences. Her pioneering research on radioactivity moved scientists to reconsider established ideas in physics and chemistry, just as her presence as a woman in the scientific community helped pave the way for young girls to work for their dreams, no matter the barriers that stand in their way.

Florence Nightingale, nurse

They say diamonds are a girl's best friend, but Florence Smith, later known as Florence Nightingale, traded in her riches and connections to lay the foundations for modern nursing as we know it during the Crimean War in the mid-1800s. Later in her lifetime, she established the first secular nursing school in the world and was always a fierce advocate for women in the work force and improving healthcare in Britain. She worked tirelessly through health problems almost until her death at the age of 90. The “Lady with the Lamp” is a wonderful figure to tell your girl about when she's playing nurse with her dolls and friends!

Rosa Parks, civil rights activist

One cold December evening in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, four African-Americans were told to give up their seats in the colored section of the segregated bus to make room for white passengers. Three stood up, but Rosa Parks stayed put. She had had enough of being treated like a second-class citizen, and wished to keep the seat she had paid for. Though she was arrested that night, her actions (or lack thereof) made great waves in the early years of the Civil Rights Movement, and she spent years traveling around the country, telling her story and advocating for human rights for everyone. Reading about Rosa Parks can show your little activist the forms bravery can take, and how little actions can make big impacts.

Amelia Earhart, pilot

Next time you spot a plane in the sky when you're out with your little lady, tell her about Amelia Earhart, the first female pilot to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean. She fell in love with flying after her first tryout in a plane and saved up money to buy flying lessons. They paid off, and she became the first woman to fly solo across the North American continent and back, on top of her trans-Atlantic flight. On top of her busy piloting schedule, she found time to write best-selling books about her experiences. She disappeared while trying to fly around the world, but her legacy lives on, motivating young girls everywhere to fly high to reach their dreams.

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