A prolific author, having written 12 published books and several articles, Helen Keller was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. Her autobiography, The Story of My Life, made Keller famous and was adapted for film and stage. She was also an activist and campaigned for women's suffrage, labour rights, socialism and other such causes.
Feminist and civil rights icon Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was the longest-serving U.S First Lady. She was a prominent human rights activist, wrote columns, and hosted a radio show. She was named to Gallup's List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century in 1999.
Christa McAuliffe was an American astronaut and teacher who died while serving as a payload specialist on board Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded during STS-51-L. McAuliffe was all set to become the first teacher in space as she was part of the NASA Teacher in Space Project. In 2004, she was posthumously honored with the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.
Currently a member of the House of Representative from the 45th Congressional District in Orange County, California, American politician Katie Porter practiced law before taking up teaching as her full time profession. Eventually she won the 2018 election to the House and is now a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and deputy chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Civil rights activist and educator Betty Shabazz, or Betty X, was the wife of Black nationalist leader Malcolm X. Raised by her adoptive parents in Detroit, she met Malcolm X at a Nation of Islam event in Harlem. She died when her apartment was set on fire set by her grandson.
American teacher Mary Kay Letourneau was pleaded guilty in 1997 to two counts of felony second-degree rape of a child. She began a sexual relationship with her sixth-grade student Vili Fualaau and had two children with him. Letourneau served two prison sentences as their relationship was forbidden by law. The two got married in 2005 and got separated in 2019.
The wife of NBA star Dell Curry and the mother of basketball players Seth and Stephen Curry, Sonya Curry grew up amid poverty and often had racist encounters with the Ku Klux Klan. Once a star volleyball player at Virginia Tech, she now heads the Christian Montessori School founded by her.
10 Jane Elliott
11 Brene Brown
Apart from being a University of Houston research professor, Brene Brown has also been a successful author of New York Times bestsellers such as Braving the Wilderness, and a podcast host. She also has a lecture featured on Netflix, while her Ted Talk is one of the world’s top-five most-viewed.
12 Sylvia Earle
Jennifer Mulhern Granholm is a politician, lawyer, educator, and author. She is currently serving as the 16th United States Secretary of Energy, in office since February 2021. Previously, she was the 47th governor of Michigan, the first woman to serve in this position. She was made a Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star in 2010.
15 Erin Murphy
16 Amy Chua
20 Lauren Lane
Annie Sprinkle is an American sexologist who supports sex work and healthcare. Sprinkle, who identifies herself as ecosexual, works as a feminist stripper, sex educator, pornographic actress, and sex-positive feminist. She is credited with popularizing lesbian pornography and the post-porn movement.
Renowned psychologist Carol S. Dweck has taught at both Columbia and Harvard and is now a professor at Stanford. She is best known for her research on fixed mindset and growth mindset and has also penned popular books such as Self-theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development.
In 2003, Essie Mae Washington-Williams made headlines when she announced that she was the illegitimate, bi-racial child of senator Strom Thurmond and his Black maid. It is believed Essie’s mother was 16 when she had her, and that Thurmond didn’t accept her, as he was politically pro-segregation.
26 Ruby Wax
27 Mamie Till
28 Debra Lafave
Heather Cox Richardson is an American professor and historian who is currently teaching history at Boston College. She has also taught history at prestigious institutions like the University of Massachusetts Amherst and MIT. Richardson has written many books on politics and history and is credited with founding werehistory.org, which houses short articles.
Regina S Peruggi is an educator, who became the first woman to become president of Kingsborough Community College. Prior to this, she served as president of Marymount Manhattan College. She has been on the board of directors of many educational institutions. She was honored as a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction in 2006.
32 Amber Nash
35 Kami Cotler
36 Pema Chodron
Pema Chodron is an American Tibetan Buddhist and an ordained nun. Born as Deirdre Blomfield-Brown in New York, she began studying with Tibetan Buddhist Lama Chime Rinpoche as a young woman. She eventually became a fully ordained nun or bhikṣuṇī. She is the author of several dozen books and audiobooks. She is the principal teacher at Gampo Abbey.
37 Liz Murray
39 Amy Cuddy
40 Emma Willard
41 Judy Chu
While she claimed she was a transracial Black woman, former NAACP branch president Rachel Dolezal was revealed to be a white woman passing off as Black when her parents spoke to the media. Following the mass protests after the revelation, she was fired from Eastern Washington University, her workplace.
43 Jesmyn Ward
The first North American Black woman to publish a newspaper, USA-born Mary Ann Shadd was the founder of the Canadian newspaper, The Provincial Freeman. Concurrently serving as its anonymous editor and contributor, she also became one of the first women to pursue journalism in Canada. She was also one of the first Black women to earn a degree in law.