Women's History Month

Women's History Month sees us celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The month also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women's achievements or rally for women's equality.

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women's Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:

  • Celebrate women's achievements
  • Raise awareness about women's equality
  • Lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • Fundraise for female-focused charities

International Women's Day has occurred for well over a century with the first gathering held in 1911; learn more about the day's timeline.

Women who made a difference

Olivia Hanlon

Olivia set up a group called 'Girls in Marketing' to encourage women in the marketing field to connect, network and share their hints and tips for a successful marketing career. The page has since grown rapidly, with females from around the world joining the group and supporting one another as they venture out into marketing related jobs or to freelance. She later created a website that offers free and affordable classes for women, to learn about all things marketing, giving advice to women entering a male dominated work environment on how to handle things on your own in freelance! She has created a safe and uplifting environment for women wanting to go into marketing.

Dr Ayana E Johnson

Ayana is a marine biologist and policy expert who is the founder and CEO of Ocean Collectiv, a consulting firm for conservation solutions grounded in social justice. She is also founder of Urban Ocean Lab, a think tank for coastal cities. You’ll find her at the nexus of science, policy, and communication, building community around climate solutions. She also co-produces a podcast called 'How To Save a Planet' and has done a lot of writing around the climate crisis.

Corrie Ten Boom

Cornelia Arnolda Johanna "Corrie" ten Boom was a Dutch Christian watchmaker and later a writer who worked with her father, Casper ten Boom, her sister Betsie ten Boom and other family members to help many Jews escape from the Nazis during the Holocaust in World War II by hiding them in her home.

In resisting Nazi persecution, Ten Boom acted in concert with her religious beliefs, her family experience, and the Dutch resistance. Her defiance led to imprisonment, internment in a concentration camp, and loss of family members who died from maltreatment while in German custody.

After the war, ten Boom advocated reconciliation as a means for overcoming the psychological scars left by the Nazi occupation. She later traveled the world as an evangelist, motivational speaker, and social critic, referring to her experiences in Ravensbrück as she offered solace to prisoners and protested the Vietnam War.

Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind was a British scientist who was best known for her contributions towards The discovery of deoxyribonucleic acid (or as we know it DNA) which led to greater understanding in chromosomes and genetic structures. Franklin also contributed new insight on the structure of viruses, helping to lay the foundation for the field of structural virology.

Diane Fosseyn

Diane was a Occupational Therapist and Zoologist who became the world’s leading expert on mountain gorillas. Through extensive observation she was able to understand the social structure, habits and environments of this endangered species. Diane was vocal in her fight against poachers, leading Hollywood to produce the 1983 movie ‘Gorillas in the Mist’ about her work. Sadly, she passed away in Rwanda, 1985, thought to have been killed by the poachers with whom she had struggled for so long.

Jeanette Lee

Jeanette Lee is an influential individual and a professional American pool player. She was named "The Black Widow" because of the way she transformed when she was playing pool, going from being sweet and calm to a merciless competitor against her opponents. Lee started playing in 1989 and became number #1 in the world ranking of pool players during the 90's and is currently ranked as the number #3 in the ranks. Her skills meant that she was awarded the "Women's Professional Billiard Association" (WPBA) as outstanding sportswomen of 1998.

Even in a male dominated sport such as this, women can always break through the stereotypes and prove to the world that they, just like men, are able to challenge even the most experienced player, regardless of gender.

Anne Marie Imafidon

Anne-Marie Imafidon is CEO and co-founder of STEMettes. Since launching the award-winning Stemettes organisation in 2013, Anne-Marie Imafidon has dedicated her life to inspiring and building up the pipeline of young women going into STEM.

Anne-Marie’s (and Stemettes’) mission is to encourage girls aged between five and 22 years old to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths by showing them how to “approach scientific challenges with confidence.” Since its inception, some 40,000 young people have attended the free events, workshops and Stemette experiences across the UK and Ireland.

At the age of just 27, Anne-Marie’s work with Stemettes and social enterprise earned her an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours List for services to Young Women and STEM Sectors.

Nina Hunt

Nina was one of the leading Latin American choreographers, As a mentor and motivator, she trained many world champions and was known for her rigorous methods of choreography. Strictly judge, Len Goodman, compared coaching from Nina to be comparable to a golf lesson from Tiger Woods.

She took coaching beyond the realms, a woman of great emotion and pride in her couples, yet never over praising their efforts, thereby instigating a greater effort to improve.

She won the Carl Alan Award in 1968 and the Golden dance-shoe in 1986, she also may have coached Jane Torville and Christopher Dean to Winter Olympic ice dancing victory in 1984, but she turned them down!

Timberlake Wertenbaker

Timberlake Wertenbaker is a playwright, screenplay writer, and translator. She has written plays for the Royal Court and the Royal Shakespeare Company amongst others. She has been described in The Washington Post as "the doyenne of political theatre of the 1980s and 1990s," thanks to plays such as Our Country's Good.

Margaret Hughes

Margaret Hughes (1645-1719) is regarded as the first professional actress to perform on the English stage, playing the role of Desdemona in Shakespeare's Othello at the age of 15. Hughes became an actress during a period of great change in English drama, following the Renaissance period where women were banned from appearing on stage. Once lifted, women were quickly accepted by audiences, including the Duke of Cumberland, showering her with gifts, despite a lukewarm reception from the actress at first.

Vinnette Carrol

Vinnette Carroll was an American playwright, actress, and theatre director. In 1972 she became the first African-American woman to direct on Broadway with her production of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope.

Up until 2016, she was also the only African-American woman to have been nominated for the Tony award for directing.

Her primary interest was giving voice to African Americans and other minority communities that have been culturally and artistically silenced. Carroll once said of her career “They told me that I had one-third less chance because I was a woman; they told me I had one-third less chance again because I was black, but I tell you, I did one hell of a lot with that remaining one-third.”

Agnes Baden Powell

Agnes was the younger sister of Robert Baden-Powell and was most noted for her work in establishing the Girl Guide movement as a female counterpart to her older brother's Scouting Movement.

In 1909 a Scouting event was held at Crystal Palace, but was gatecrashed by several girls - disguised as Scouts - who wanted to be involved. Popular opinion was against mixed activities between boys and girls, so Robert approached his sister to lead this new group of Guides, and, by 1910, 6,000 girls were registered with the movement.

Jade Redmond

After graduating from university she was a programmer and helped to set up Sony Online research and development group, leading her to EA where she worked as a producer to The Sims online. She then went onto work for Ubisoft and led the creation of the first Assassin's Creed game, earning roles like executive producer to games like Watchdogs.

Raymond is also on the board of directors for WIFT-T, an organization dedicated to the advancement of women across film, television and screen-based industries.

Jade has received many awards for her work, including the Pioneer Award, which recognised her as responsible for turning points in the history of gaming, and in 2018 she was named by Variety as one of the 200 most influential leaders in global information technology.

Mary Berry

Mary is a British food writer, chef and television personality. At the age of 12 Mary spent time in hospital, away from her family, due to contracting Polio. She felt this period toughened her up and motivated to take more opportunities despite the virus leaving her with a permanent disability.

After discovering her love of baking at school, Mary went on to study at Le Cordon Bleu cookery institute in Paris, working in the industry for many years and writing over 75 cookery books. Mary is best known for her role as a judge on The Great British Bake Off - particularly enjoying cocktail based creations and the occasional innuendo.

In 2020 Mary as recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list with a DBE for her services to broadcasting, culinary arts and charity.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Known as AOC, Alexandria was the youngest woman to ever serve in the United States Congress, beating a ten term incumbent in what has been described as the biggest upset in the 2018 primaries.

She is a modern politician, ambitious, loud, proud and open. Genuine. She has been lobbying for sustainability, gender and race equality in Congress, while battling an outdated white patriarchy that is the American government. She aims to make politics accessible to all, misidentifying it on social media and speaking openly about her experiences. To me she shows that you can get where you want to go without sacrificing yourself, your heritage or your values.

Temple Grandin

Dr Grandin is an American author, academic and activist, who has campaigned tirelessly for the humane treatment of animals in modern farming, and a leading scientist in the field of animal behaviour. Temple’s work to challenge the stigma of autism has earned her international recognition; being named in the Time Top 100 in 2010, and a biographical movie starring Claire Danes, which won an Emmie and a Golden Globe.

Temple attributes her success in science to her neurodiverse ability to ‘think in pictures’, allowing her to recall incredible details of plans and charts, to solve complex practical problems.

Temple also loves trampolines and generally asks for one to be available when she is making a public appearance, to calm her anxieties!

Anna Freud

Daughter of renowned psychologist, Sigmund, Anna continued her father’s work by concentrating work on the ‘ego’ and its relevance in childhood development. She also introduced the concept of defence mechanisms, which are commonly talked about even today.

Anna, who was an Austrian-Jew relocated from Vienna to London in 1938 establishing a child therapy clinic which served as a centre for therapy, training and research. This paved a way for the very first psychotherapists, who worked within the newly formed NHS.

Anna passed away in 1983 but her legacy lives on through the work of the Anna Freud Centre, which continues to modernise and expand understanding of psychopathology in children.

Mary Anning

Born in 1799, Mary Anning was an English fossil collector, dealer and pioneering palaeontologist, from Lyme Regis in Dorset (also known as the Jurassic Coast). Despite very little education, Mary could read and taught herself geology and anatomy.

Mary Anning's fossil finding contributed to how palaeontologists think about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth. One of her significant discoveries includes an Ichthyosaur that can be viewed in London's Natural History Museum, although sadly Mary was not admitted to the Geological Society of London - as they didn’t allow women until 1904.

Maaya Sakamoto

Maaya is a Japanese voice actress, actress,singer and composer who promotes cross cultural art through performing both Eastern shows such as Anime and music collaborations and Western theatre such as Les Miserables. She has voiced characters in epics such as Ghost in the Shell, Final Fantasy and Deathnote.

What is more, she found time to complete a bachelor's degree in sociology. She never stops promoting cross cultural work.

Jacqueline Wilson

Dame Jacqueline wrote her first novel at the age of nine and went on to become one of Britain’s most beloved childrens’ authors. She is acclaimed for featuring controversial themes in her novels, such as divorce, adoption and mental illness, and handling them in a way that does not alienate her readers.

Four of her works were named in the Big Read poll, including The Return of Tracy Beaker, which was Britain’s most borrowed library book between 2000-2010 and went on to become a popular television series which continued to discuss challenging topics associated with being a teenager.

Jacqueline received honorary degrees from Bath, Dundee and Kingston Universities, as well as having a lecture theatre named after her at the latter.

Jacinda Ardern

Jacinda Arden is the 40th and current Prime Minister of New Zealand. Arden became the world’s youngest female head of government at the age of 37 when she was elected into power in 2017, since then she claimed her re-election in 2020 with a landslide victory winning enough seats to govern alone, the first time in the history of the country’s elections.

Arden’s response to Covid-19 has been praised worldwide with how efficiently she has handled the pandemic, she and her cabinet took a voluntary 20% pay cut in order to help those severely affected.

She has made strides for gender equality, financial equality and social justice in her country and is one of the most well-respected government leaders.

Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, dubbed the ‘Iron Lady’ due to her unwavering politics and leadership style, was a Conservative Party Politician and she made history as Europe’s first woman prime minister, holding the position in Britain 1979-1990. Before going into politics she studied chemistry gaining a chemistry degree from Oxford. She is commonly attributed with leading Britain to victory in the Falklands war, and playing a part in ending the cold war.

Although she was a highly contentious PM, her work and accomplishments marked a great future for Women in Politics.

Barbara Streisand

Barbra Streisand is one of the most iconic artists of all time. With a career spanning seven decades, she has so many incredible accomplishments in multiple fields of the entertainment industry, including achieving an EGOT (one of only 16 people to do so). She is the only woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Director, and is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. Not only has she had an amazing career, she has used her success to help others. Her charity, The Streisand Foundation, has contributed $16 million to organisations working on preservation of the environment, voter education, the protection of civil rights, women’s issues, and nuclear disarmament. Throughout her life she has been an advocate for gay rights and feminist issues. Barbra Streisand is truly an inspiration.

Kim Swift

Kim is an American video game designer best known for her work at Valve with games such as Portal and Left 4 Dead. Swift was featured by Fortune as one of "30 Under 30" influential figures in the video game industry. She was described as one of the most recognized women in the gaming industry and "an artist that will push the medium forward".

Philippa Foot

Phillipa Foot (FBA) is arguably one the most important and prominent figures in moral philosophy. Throughout her career Phillipa Foot would be one of the key founders is contemporary virtue ethics, along with this also developing 'The Trolley Problem' a notable thought experiment still used between disciplines such as Philosophy and Psychology.

An esteemed academic Phillipa Foot would have a successful career spanning over 40 years teaching in established institutions such as Cornell, MIT, Berkley and Sommerville College, Foot would inspire other prominent figures in ethics with the likes of Bernard Williams, Rosalind Hursthouse and Judith Jarvis Thomson citing Phillipa Foot as a key influence. Her impact and the differences she made to her field are still appreciated and vital to this day.

Ruth Bader-Ginsberg

Ruth Bader Ginsberg was an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1993 to 2020 and was the second female occupier of the position in one of the highest courts in the world.

She made a difference by becoming the first ever Jewish woman to be appointed to the Supreme court.

In her younger years, she struggled to get a job at a law firm due to workplace gender discrimination even though she graduated as the top of her class so becoming an associate justice was an accomplishment for her and other women of her time.

Florence Nightingale

Best known as a nurse who helped take the role of nurse from a cultural caretaker to a medical profession in its own right, Florence Nightingale was also a mathematical trailblazer. She was directly responsible for many changes in hospital care during the Crimean War. She documented the improvement in mortality rates and health outcomes caused by standardizing sanitation practices, among many other important changes that professionalized nursing. Nightingale did more than just invent descriptive statistics. She also developed important methods for data visualization and presentation, helping make statistics accessible to a wider audience.

Elizabeth Casson

Dr Elizabeth Casson specialised in psychiatry where she recognised the value of occupation to health and wellbeing. She was the first woman to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Medicine of the University of Bristol in 1929. Her passion and belief in the therapeutic benefits of occupational focused therapy led her to introduce occupational therapy to England, where she set up the first school of occupational therapy at Dorset house in Bristol. She is recognised as the founder of occupational therapy in England, which led to occupational therapy being taught, practiced and led to its recognition and establishment as a profession. Following her death, a foundation was set up in her name to further the professional development of occupational therapy, leadership roles for Occupational Therapists (promoting the context of occupational therapy) and research led evidence-based practice. Finally, without the work of Dr Elizabeth Casson, occupational therapy in England would not be the profession it is today.

Jamie Chadwick

Jamie’s race career began at age 11, when she followed her brother into karting. By 2015 she was competing in British GT4 and went on to take the British GT Championship, alongside co-driver Ross Gunn, becoming the youngest and first woman champion. In 2018, Jamie became the first ever woman to win in British F3 by claiming victory at Brands Hatch.

Jamie was one of the competitors in the inaugural season of the W Series and went on to become development driver for Williams F1, following in the footsteps of Susie Wolff (who was the first woman to take part in an F1 weekend in 22 years!).

Jamie continues to race and is one of the drivers named for the 2021 Extreme E competition.

Sophia Flörsch

Sophia Flörsch is a German Formula and Prototype driver who races Formula 3 and WEC (World Endurance Championship). She started racing in Ginetta Junior in the UK, winning two races before moving to ADAC Formula 4 Germany where she worked her way up to racing in an all women’s endurance team for the WEC in 2021.

In 2018, Sophia suffered a fractured spine due to an incident at the Macau Grand Prix which saw her car catapult into the air at 173mph. Sophia’s astonishing recovery put her back into the driver's seat in 2019, signing up for the European Masters Series, with Amersfoort Racing.

In 2021 Sophia will be competing in ExtremeE in its inaugural season.

Mackenzie Vaughan

Even though Mackenzie has suffered from liver disease since birth, she is an active outstanding student at the University of Derby and enjoys extracurricular activities.

In Enactus Derby, she created and leads the De-Liver25 project, which helps other young people with liver disease who have lost support from the government. Under her leadership, their team has managed to win the competitions of our ASDA partners twice.

This is just a small number of reasons why we celebrate Mackenzie for International Women's Day.