Guest Post By Jodi Murphy
So many women trailblazers who made ground-breaking societal contributions have been written out of history. Half of humanity ignored! The vital roles of women have often been misrepresented, downplayed, or hidden from our history books.
We’d like to highlight the stories of 5 resilient women of history who achieved success despite overwhelming obstacles. Each faced a form of misogyny, prejudice, discrimination, and injustice only to rise above societal setbacks and make huge impacts in science, art, sports, technology, and human rights!
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Mary Golda Ross
Listen to Ms. Ross’ story on the Dorktales Storytime Podcast:
Mary Golda Ross was not only one of the first women to have a prestigious career in engineering, she was also one of the first Native Americans in the field. She rose through the ranks at Lockheed and was the only female engineer of 40 employees selected to be a part of Skunk Works – a top-secret division of the company. Ms. Ross accomplished incredible engineering feats throughout her career, including major contributions that would eventually help put humans into space. She became a mentor to young women and Native Americans, encouraging them to follow their passions.
Listen to Ms. Rudolph’s story on the Dorktales Storytime Podcast:
Wilma Rudolph was the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field in the same year, earning her the title of “fastest woman in the world.” But Wilma Rudolph accomplished something even more precious than gold medals. When she was running in 1960, it was at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Black women and men were beginning the first, powerful wave of fights for equal rights and justice across the country. Ms. Rudolph was one of the most visible Black women and athletes in America after her performance at the Olympics. She used that platform to make a difference and was an outspoken champion for civil justice and women’s rights.
Listen to Ms. Tallchief’s story on the Dorktales Storytime Podcast:
Maria Tallchief was a trailblazing dancer who leaped into fame to become America’s first Prima Ballerina. Her technical precision and unique style of dance—full of energy, speed, and passion—put American ballet on the map. She paved the way for dancers who didn’t seem to fit the mold or expectations of what a dancer should be. Ms. Tallchief was a member of the Osage Nation, and she always remembered her roots, remaining closely tied to her Osage history and speaking out against stereotypes and misconceptions about Native Americans.
Listen to Ms. Asawa’s story on the Dorktales Storytime Podcast:
Ruth Asawa is one of California’s most beloved sculptors and was an influential advocate for arts education. She persisted through extreme prejudice and the injustice of Japanese internment camps to become a master at her craft. Ms. Asawa believed teaching the arts in school was a vital part of empowering young people, and felt hands-on learning was an invaluable experience. She championed these principles throughout her entire career. Today, her remarkable work lives on—from installations in famous museums to monuments in city parks, to The Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts.
Hedy Lamarr was a famous MGM Hollywood film actress, producer, and, off-screen, a brilliant inventor. She was known by the public as the “most beautiful woman in the world” and was adored for her performances on screen. But in between takes, she could be found in her trailer conducting scientific experiments. Ms. Lamarr’s most influential invention was called frequency-hopping, a technology to help the Navy protect their radio signals during World War II.
It took two decades for frequency-hopping to be taken seriously by the engineering community, but today it’s widely believed that her invention is what makes modern communication systems possible. Yes, we have Hedy Lamarr to thank for all of our cell phones, Bluetooth devices, GPS, and wi-fi networks!
Discover more Hidden Heroes of History podcast episodes and geeky retellings of classic fairy tales on the Dorktales Storytime Podcast. The podcast is a member of Kids Listen, an organization that advocates for high-quality children’s audio.
Jodi Murphy is the founder of Geek Club Books autism storytelling nonprofit and a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Board of Advisors.