History is never kind to anyone but especially never to women. It is known that disparities exist in our society between both genders but only now we are starting to realise to what extent the bias exists. Via the efforts of feminist academics across the world, we now know about the unfair beauty standards, the history of the wage gap and the unfair working condition for women in every field. These are all issues aside from the more obvious ones such as limitation to homes and kitchen, demonisation of their sexuality and abuse, harassment etc. Many women have had great contributions to the fields of programming, music, literature and science without and credits to their name. Here are 7 women that were known in their time for their astonishing achievements but were forgotten with time:
1. Katie Sandwina – Our society is still in talks about how femininity and masculinity can co-exist and do not have to be two juxtaposing concepts and many still find it hard to wrap their head around it. Katie Sandwina, also known as the strongest woman in the world, was a living example that you don’t have to fit in a box of feminine or masculine to exist to your full potential. She was very strong, could pick up eight to twelve people at once and yet there are accounts where people described her as always well put together with her nails done etc. She loved dressing up, putting make-up on and loved all the feminine things.
2. Ada Lovelace – Often, Charles Babbage is called the Father of computers and is credited for the birth of the first computing machine of the world. Only a few know that huge contribution in the whole process was by his associate, Ada Lovelace who was an extraordinary mathematician. She wrote the programme for the prototype of the computer that Charles Babbage. She was the brains behind the dream and was responsible for the computer to be a reality. Aada Lovelace was the world’s first computer programmer and marked the birth of technology as we use it today.
3. Dr Virginia Apgar – This is the extraordinary woman and physician who was responsible for figuring out a way to tell if the baby is doing well in their environment outside of the womb. She was also the first woman ever to become a full professor at the University of Columbia, College of Physicians and Surgeons. What was different about her can be collected through the thoughts of those who worked around her. Everyone thought that she had a very calming, nurturing and warm presence. She cared about all the people, the ones who worked with her as well as the patients.
4. Joe Carstairs – Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs was a powerboat racer from Britain and was known for her speed and unique persona. She dressed in androgynous clothing when it was not fashionable and broke norms such as gender stereotypes and roles. In the 1920s, Joe was famous as “The First Woman on Water” and was also known as “Queen of White Cay”. She later became an LGBTQAI+ icon due to her bold lifestyle and confidently blind attitude to all society’s judgements. She openly had embraced all the traits that other women were frowned upon for at the time. She had a passion and love for machines, adventure and was an unabashed queer ever since she came out of her mother’s womb.
5. Mildred Loving – Mildred Loving was a part of the interracial “Loving” couple whose marriage made news and even went to court. Their love story was full of ups and downs that included tragedies and a happy ending as well. Mildred Loving and Richard Loving had to flee their home overnight and leave for Virginia because they needed to be safe. They were being arrested for the crime of interracial marriage as Mildred was an African American and Richard was white. They had a long struggle after which they were allowed to marry, not long after which Richard passed away in a car accident.
6. Edna St Vincent Millay – She was born on February 22nd in 1882 and was an American poet and dramatist. In the 1920s, she became synonymous with romantic rebellion. She was brought up by her divorced mother who was the first one to realise that she had a talent for writing rhymes that were out of the ordinary. Edna had started writing poetry at a very early age and later went on to win a Pulitzer as well. The tone in her poetry was always independent and poignant, the combination of which along with her social and political ideals made a bonafide youth icon in her time. She was a poet and figure who wrote about love and relationships in a way that was rawer to people and that’s why it was more relatable as well. Her works also helped them realise no life is perfect.
7. Katharine Dexter Mccormick – Here is another woman who came from a very wealthy family and had a great life but chose to leave it all behind to fight for what was right. She fought for the rights of women in terms of suffrage, contraception and also scientific education for them. Not only that, but she also made significant improvement with her efforts. She even went on to get a degree in Biology from MIT. Later she also used her knowledge to lead the formulation of the first-ever oral contraceptive pill for women to have more agency over their bodies.
There are many more instances in which someone was just not the right colour, the right gender or did not have the right amount of money for them to be in the pages of history books we read. So many more stories and people that we need to look out for when we read and study so that we may not come to be ignorant of those who have made our world what it is. These are only 7 examples but to know all of those who have been buried by the passing of time, it takes reading history that from subaltern and lesser-known perspectives.