Her’s Day Thursday

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Since yesterday was International Women’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to highlight some of the awesome ways women have influenced the world! Here are some amazing women who invented some extraordinary things!

Stephanie Kwolek

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Kwolek, a chemist, discovered and invented the materials used to make Kevlar bulletproof vests!

 

Florence Parpart

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We ALL owe Florence Parpart a HUGE thank you! She’s the inventor of the refrigerator (aka, The Real Happiest Place on Earth)!

 

Josephine Cochrane

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Josephine Cochrane is an A+ in book. Why? She is the inventor of the dishwasher! Saving us all (and by all I mean ALL–not just ladies) from the horror that is washing dishes by hand!

 

Marie Van Brittan Brown

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Marie was a nurse who worked odd hours and frequently found herself at home alone during the night. She collaborated with her husband and invented the home security system!

 

Tabitha Babbitt

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Tabitha Babbitt lived in a Shaker community in Massachusetts which relied heavily on the forestry business. She observed that the men exerted a lot of energy but using the two-men pull saws. Because of this, she invented the circular saw!

 

Have you ever heard of any of these inventors? Know of any others? Share in the comments below!

 

Her’s Day Thursday

 

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During the Oscars this past Sunday, GE debuted an awesome new commercial. Didn’t see it? No worries! I’ve got it right here:

 

I. LOVE. THIS.

(Also, the irony that this commercial was played during an awards show honoring celebrities was not lost on me)

I wish great women like Millie Dresselhaus were held to the same esteem as celebrities. And Millie deserves it! She was the first female professor at MIT (she taught physics and electrical engineering) and has won several awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science (among more than a dozen others)!

You can learn more about Millie here!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Y’all, today’s BAMF is absolutely amazing! I’m just going to jump right in because I am so excited to share her story with you!

Lyudmila Pavlichenko (whom I will refer to here on out as “Mila”) was born on July 12, 1916 in Bila Tserkva, Russia. When she was 14 years old, she moved to Kyiv and joined a shooting club. She became an amateur sharpshooter while she worked at the Kyiv Arsenal Factory. Mila went through university and eventually graduated with a Master’s Degree in history in 1937.

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Mila continued her education at the Kyiv University and, in June 1941, was aghast when Germany began its invasion of the Soviet Union and bombed her beloved school. She was one of the first volunteers to step inside a recruiting office, requesting to join the infantry. First, she was offered a position as a nurse, but she turned it down. Soon, however, she was assigned to the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division.

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She was one of 2,000 female snipers in the Red Army, though only 500 or so survived the war. Mila was sent all over, racking up a total of 309 kills, which included 36 enemy snipers! In 1942, Mila was wounded by mortar fire and taken off the front lines. She was gaining much notoriety and the leaders of the Red Army were afraid for her safety.

She spent much of her time after that visiting Allied countries and was invited to the White House (the first Soviet to ever be received by an American president) by Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She met Eleanor Roosevelt and the two formed a great friendship.

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While in the U.S., Mila was shocked by the questions she received by journalists. She is quoted as saying, “One reporter even criticized the length of the skirt of my uniform, saying that in America women wear shorter skirts and besides my uniform made me look fat.” During a speaking engagement in Chicago, Mila decided she had had enough. She said, ““Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309 fascist invaders by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen, that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?” (Tell ‘em, girl!)

Mila eventually went back to the Soviet Union, where she earned the rank of Major. She never saw combat but trained snipers until the end of the war. Mila was awarded the Gold Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, got her picture on a postage stamp, and was even written about in song by Woody Guthrie!

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Mila proved that it didn’t matter that she was a woman; she was tough as nails and could fight fascism just as well (or even better!) than anyone else!

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Her’s Day Thursday

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Its a new year and I’ve got a new lady from history who went “beast mode” before there ever was such a term! Today’s BAMF is Violet Jessop (AKA, the woman with amazing luck!).

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Violet Jessop was born on October 1, 1887 to Irish immigrants. Violet was soon joined by eight other siblings (sadly, only 6 survived). When Violet was young, she was hit with tuberculosis. Her condition was so severe that doctors did not believe she would live. She proved them wrong by coming through the illness just as strong as ever.

After her father passed away from complications to a surgery, Violet, her mother, and the younger children moved to England. There, Violet attended a convent school and cared for the children while her mother worked as a stewardess at sea. Not long after, Violet’s mother became ill. She left school and became a stewardess for the Royal Mail Line aboard the ship Orinoco in 1908.

Two years later, Violet was given a job aboard the RMS Olympic (a luxury ship; the largest at the time). On September 20, 1911, the Olympic left its port at Southampton and collided with the HMS Hawke, a British war ship. Thankfully, there were no fatalities and the Olympic was able to get back to port without sinkingThis would not be Violet’s only harrowing adventure at sea.

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The next April, 1912, Violet began working as a stewardess aboard the RMS Titanic. Oh yes, Violet was there on the fateful night that the Titanic hit an iceberg. Violet was working below deck when she was ordered to come up, as to be an example to non-English speakers of how to behave calmly. Violet was put onto a lifeboat where one of the boat’s officers handed her a baby. She, and the others on her lifeboat, were rescued the next morning by the Carpathia. While aboard the Carpathia, Violet was still holding the baby she was given the night before. A woman came up to her (most likely the child’s mother) and took the baby from her arms.

You would think THAT experience would be enough to deter Violet from ever boarding a ship again. Nope. During WWI, Violet worked as a stewardess for The British Red Cross.

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She was aboard the Britannic on November 21, 1916 when the ship either hit a mine hidden by German troops or was blasted by a torpedo. The large ship had sunk in less than an hour, taking 30 lives with it. But it did not take Violet. She made it to a lifeboat in time, though she had to jump out of it and swim for her life as the ship’s propellers were sucking lifeboats under the waves.

Again, Violet was not turned off by the sea. She went to work for Red Star Line and made two tours around the world. She later retired in 1950. Want to tell your kids about Violet? Check out this video!

 

You can also grab a copy of Violet’s memoirs here!

 

I think Molly Brown should give her nickname to Violet Jessop–the woman who wouldn’t go down with the ship!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Though it is very historic that, this year, a woman has become her party’s candidate for the presidential election, another woman holds the title of first woman to run for President of the United States. That distinction goes to today’s leading lady: Victoria Claflin Woodhull.

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Victoria was born in 1838 in rural Ohio, the seventh of ten children, to Roxanna and Reuben Claflin. Her mother was illiterate and her father was an abusive con man, making his money as a snake oil salesman. When she was just a few days past her fifteenth birthday, Victoria married her first husband with whom she had two children. She later divorced him, finding out he was an alcoholic and womanizer. Back in the 1850’s, divorce was scandalous and was much stigmatized for the woman. This catapulted Victoria into becoming a voice for women who were forced to stay in loveless and often abusive marriages.

Victoria began working to support herself and her children as well as fighting for women’s rights. She and her sister, Tennessee, became the first female stock brokers in 1870, and opened their own firm. Victoria ended up making a fortune on stocks and helped Cornelius Vanderbilt make his millions.

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Victoria decided to amp up her fight to gain the right to vote for herself and all American women. She testified before a House Judiciary Committee and argued that the 14th and 15th Amendments already gave women the power to vote, they just needed to act on it. She pointed out that the Amendments protected the right to vote for all citizens. After this, Victoria was sought out by Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Isabella Beecher Hooker to become a part of their movement that was gaining momentum.

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That same year, Victoria and her sister founded a newspaper—Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly. Most of the articles focused on women’s issues of the day such as suffrage and women’s education. However, it has become best known for exposing the hypocrisy of Pastor Henry Ward Beecher who preached fidelity in his masses, but was secretly having an affair with a church member. The article prompted criminal charges to be filed against Beecher and a trial (which ended in a hung jury) soon followed.

Victoria was nominated for president in 1872 by the Equal Rights Party, with Frederick Douglass named as her running mate. (Douglass never commented on the nomination.) Victoria and her sister were arrested the day before the election for “publishing an obscene newspaper” because of the story on Beecher’s affair. They were held for a month in jail, thus preventing Victoria from attempting to vote in the election. Unshaken, Victoria continued her fight for women’s equality and ran for president years later in 1884 and 1892.

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Victoria fought for women and for their voices to be heard until her dying day. She truly has earned the title of Kick-A Woman in History!

Her’s Day Thursday

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Even though the Olympics are over, I’m still seeing posts about Olympic athletes (both past and present) pop up in my Facebook newsfeed. The other day, I came across an amazing video about an Olympian and I had to share her story with you!

Today’s leading lady is: Agnes Keleti!

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Agnes Keleti was born January 9, 1921 in Hungary to a Jewish family. Agnes started gymnastics when she was four years old and became the Hungarian National Champion in gymnastics at 16. Everyone believed Agnes would be represent Hungary in the 1940 Olympics, however the Nazi regime had other plans.

Because of the abhorrent treatment of the Jewish people, Agnes and her family were forced into hiding. Agnes made it through the war by purchasing Christian identification papers and working as a maid in a small Hungarian village. Her mother and sister also survived, however her father died in Auschwitz.

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After the war was over, Agnes almost immediately went back to training. Sadly, an injury caused Agnes to have to sit out at the 1948 Olympics. However, she made a comeback in 1952—at the “ripe old gymnastics age” of 31—and won her first gold medal in Floor Exercises! Agnes went on to win ten Olympic medals as well as the All-Around Hungarian championships ten times! She is the most decorated female Jewish Olympian of all time! A political upset in Hungary caused Agnes to defect to Israel, where she went on to coach the Israeli gymnastics team for nearly two decades. Though she is retired, Agnes still works on her gymnastic skills every day!

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Now THAT’S talent! Way to be, Agnes!

Her’s Day Thursday

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If you’ve read my blog at all, you know that I love to write about strong women. Especially strong women that have paved the way for future generations in lines of work that are predominantly male. So when I saw this trailer, I literally got goosebumps!

 

 

The film, Hidden Figures, tells the story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson (a physicist, space scientist, and mathematician, respectively); three incredible women who used their brain power to help the Project Mercury mission (aka, the mission in which John Glenn orbited the Earth)  a success. Not only did these women break massive ground for women in STEM fields, but also for women of color.

(The film is actually an adaption of a book of the same name by Margot Lee Shetterly. Read more about it here!)