American Female Intellectuals & Academics

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Dian Fossey

Dian Fossey
5
Famous As: Zoologist, Conservationist
Birthdate: January 16, 1932
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: San Francisco, California, United States
Died: December 26, 1985
Zoologist, primatologist, and conservationist Dian Fossey conducted research on mountain gorillas in Rwanda from 1966 until she was murdered in 1985. She was part of the Trimates assigned to study apes by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. She wrote Gorillas in the Mist, which was later turned into a film.

 2 Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
9
Famous As: Folklorist, Anthropologist
Birthdate: January 7, 1891
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Notasulga
Died: January 28, 1960

Zora Neale Hurston was an author, anthropologist, and filmmaker. As an African American woman, she often depicted racial issues in the films she made. Her works also reflected her struggles as a black woman. In her early career, she conducted anthropological and ethnographic research and focused more on writing and film-making in her later years.

 3 Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead
9
Famous As: Cultural Anthropologist
Birthdate: December 16, 1901
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Died: November 15, 1978

One of the most celebrated anthropologists to have ever existed, Margaret Mead is remembered for his research on a broad range of topics, such as sexual conventions in Western society. Of her 23 books, the most talked-about was the bestseller Coming of Age in Samoa.

 4 Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand
26
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: February 2, 1905
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Died: March 6, 1982

Ayn Rand was a Russian-American philosopher and writer. Apart from publishing two best-selling novels, Ayn Rand is credited with developing a philosophical system called Objectivism. Over the years, Ayn Rand has been a major influence among American conservatives and libertarians. Some of the famous personalities influenced by her include Amber Heard, Vince Vaughn, Jimmy Wales, Ayelet Shaked, and Mary Ruwart.

 5 Maya Harris

Maya Harris
6
Famous As: Lawyer, Political scientist, Writer
Birthdate: January 30, 1967
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, United States

A lawyer, law professor, political analyst and a civil rights activist, Maya Harris’s list of achievements is huge. One of the youngest in the US to become a law school dean, Maya Harris has worked with Hillary Clinton and her own sister Kamala Harris in their respective presidential campaigns.

 6 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice
10
Famous As: Former United States Secretary of State
Birthdate: November 14, 1954
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Birmingham, Alabama, United States

The 66th United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made history in 2005 when she became the first female black Secretary of State. She is also the first female to serve as National Security Advisor, a position which she served from 2001 to 2005. One of the most powerful women in the world at one point of time, she has been depicted in Hollywood films.

 7 Danica McKellar

Danica McKellar
9
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: January 3, 1975
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: La Jolla, California, United States
Danica McKellar is best known as Winnie Cooper from the series The Wonder Years and as the voice of Miss Martian from the animated series Young Justice. She has also starred in many Hallmark movies and written several math books, such as Math Doesn't Suck and Kiss My Math.
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 8 Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin
6
Famous As: Naturalist
Birthdate: July 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Eugene, Oregon, United States

American–Australian naturalist Terri Irwin is best known as the co-host of The Crocodile Hunter, along with her husband, the late animal expert Steve Irwin. She has also been part of shows such as Croc Files and Crikey! It's the Irwins, and helped in the development of Australia Zoo.

 9 Veronica Porché Ali

Veronica Porché Ali
5
Famous As: Muhammad Ali’s Ex-Wife, Psychologist
Birthdate: December 16, 1955
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, United States

 10 Lola Van Wagenen

Lola Van Wagenen
4
Famous As: Historians
Birthdate: November 30, 1938
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Provo, Utah, United States

Lola Van Wagenen is an American historian who is credited with co-founding non-profit educational organizations like Consumer Action Now (CAN) and Clio Visualizing History, Inc. Consumer Action Now went on to establish several environmental education and consumer-oriented programs in an attempt to raise awareness about the effects of consumers' buying habits on the environment.

 11 N. K. Jemisin

N. K. Jemisin
6
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 19, 1972
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Iowa City, Iowa, U.S.

N. K. Jemisin became the first writer to win the Hugo Best Novel award thrice consecutively and is best known for her Inheritance trilogy and her Broken Earth series. The African-American author is also a trained psychologist and has worked as a counsellor in several universities.

 12 Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin
12
Famous As: Historian, Writer known for her book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II
Birthdate: January 4, 1943
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York City, United States

Doris Kearns Goodwin is an American historian, biographer, and former sports journalist. She is best known for writing presidential biographies, including Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys: An American Saga. In 1995, she won the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt.

 13 Gwynne Gilford

Gwynne Gilford
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 27, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States

 14 Sarah Vowell

Sarah Vowell
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 27, 1969
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Muskogee, Oklahoma, USA

Bestselling author and essayist Sarah Vowell is known for her expertise in American history and her books such as Assassination Vacation and Unfamiliar Fishes. She is also a regular on the radio program This American Life and has voiced Violet in the animated film The Incredibles.

 15 Samantha Power

Samantha Power
7
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: September 21, 1970
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England

Pulitzer Prize-winning author and academic Samantha Power has previously served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. She was a war correspondent before she became a professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She worked on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and infamously called Hillary Clinton "a monster.”

 16 Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
4
Famous As: 7th Director-General of the World Trade Organization
Birthdate: June 13, 1954
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ogwashi Ukwu, Nigeria

 17 Elinor Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom
10
Famous As: Economist, Political scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 7, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Los Angeles
Died: June 12, 2012

 18 Virginia Dare

Virginia Dare
5
Famous As: Colonist
Birthdate: August 18, 1587
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Roanoke Island, North Carolina, United States

Virginia Dare was born in a New World English colony and is believed to be the first English child to have taken birth in the colony. Although Virginia's disappearance along with other colonists remains a mystery, she has become a popular figure in American folklore over the last 400 years. She has also been featured as a character in films.

 19 Esther Duflo

Esther Duflo
4
Famous As: American-French Economist
Birthdate: October 25, 1972
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France

Esther Duflo is a French–American economist. She is credited with co-founding the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a global research center that works towards reducing poverty worldwide. In 2019, she shared the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Michael Kremer and Abhijit Banerjee for their efforts to reduce poverty.

 20 Christina Hoff Sommers

Christina Hoff Sommers
5
Famous As: Author, Philosopher
Birthdate: September 28, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Petaluma, California, U.S.

 21 Anne Applebaum

Anne Applebaum
7
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: July 25, 1964
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

Anne Applebaum is best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gulag, which described the Soviet concentration camps. The American historian and journalist has worked for The Economist and The Spectator and now writes for The Atlantic. The mother of two now lives in Poland with her politician husband, Radek Sikorski.

 22 Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman
6
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: July 3, 1860
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut
Died: August 17, 1935

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an American novelist, humanist, poet, and short-story writer. Best remembered as a utopian feminist, Gilman served as an inspiration for several generations of feminists. A National Women's Hall of Fame inductee, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is also remembered for her semi-autobiographical work, The Yellow Wallpaper.

 23 Judy Smith

Judy Smith
5
Famous As: Crisis manager
Birthdate: October 27, 1958
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States

 24 Carol S. Dweck

Carol S. Dweck
5
Famous As: Physiologists
Birthdate: October 17, 1946
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States

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.

 25 Martha Nussbaum

Martha Nussbaum
8
Famous As: Philosopher, Writer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 6, 1947
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: New York City

 26 Frances Perkins

Frances Perkins
4
Famous As: United States Secretary of Labor (1933-45)
Birthdate: April 10, 1880
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: May 14, 1965

 27 Judith Butler

Judith Butler
21
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: February 24, 1956
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, United States

 28 Ruth Benedict

Ruth Benedict
5
Famous As: Anthropologist, Folklorist, University teacher, Poet, Sociologist, Biographer
Birthdate: June 5, 1887
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City
Died: September 17, 1948

Ruth Benedict was an American folklorist and anthropologist. Benedict, who played an important role in the American Folklore Society, also served as the American Anthropological Association's president; the association gives away an annual prize named after Ruth Benedict. In 2005, she was made an inductee of the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 29 Mary Ainsworth

Mary Ainsworth
5
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: December 1, 1913
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Glendale, Ohio, United States
Died: March 21, 1999

American-Canadian developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth is best remembered for her contributions in developing the attachment theory. She devised the Strange situation procedure during the 1970s to observe early emotional connect and relationship between a caregiver and child. She was ranked as the 97th most cited psychologist of the 20th century in a 2002 survey of Review of General Psychology.

 30 Elizabeth Loftus

Elizabeth Loftus
6
Famous As: Psychologist, Statistician, University teacher
Birthdate: October 16, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Los Angeles

 31 Alva Belmont

Alva Belmont
4
Famous As: socialite
Birthdate: January 17, 1853
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Mobile, Alabama, United States
Died: January 26, 1933

Alva Belmont was an American socialite who played a major role in the women's suffrage movement in the United States of America. Remembered for her intelligence, energy, and strong opinions, Belmont is credited with founding the Political Equality League which aimed at promoting suffrage-supporting politicians. Alva Belmont is also credited with co-founding the National Woman's Party in 1916.

 32 Pema Chodron

Pema Chodron
6
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: July 14, 1936
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: New York City, New York (state) New York, United States

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. 

 33 Janet Yellen

Janet Yellen
12
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: August 13, 1946
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Economist Janet Yellen has had an illustrious career as an academic and researcher, and has taught at Harvard University and other reputed institutes. After chairing the Federal Reserve for 4 years, she is now the United States Secretary of the Treasury. She is married to Nobel-winning economist George Akerlof.

 34 Ann Dunham

Ann Dunham
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Famous As: Anthropologist, Barack Obama's Mother
Birthdate: November 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wichita, Kansas, United States
Died: November 7, 1995
Ann Dunham was the mother of former U.S. President Barack Obama. She was an economic anthropologist and worked for the betterment of rural Indonesian women. She had met Barack Obama Sr. while studying at the University of Hawaii. She had worked with USAID, the Ford Foundation, and Bank Rakyat Indonesia.

 35 Tam O'Shaughnessy

Tam O'Shaughnessy
5
Famous As: Tennis player, Writer
Birthdate: January 27, 1952
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: San Andreas, California, United States

 36 Aviva Chomsky

Aviva Chomsky
5
Famous As: Historian, University teacher
Birthdate: April 20, 1957
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Boston

Born to linguists Noam and Carol Chomsky, Aviva Chomsky is equipped with degrees in Spanish and Portuguese and is an expert in labor and social movements. The author of books such as Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, she teaches history and co-ordinates Latin American Studies at the Salem State University.

 37 Elizabeth Blackburn

Elizabeth Blackburn
3
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: November 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Hobart, Australia

Nobel Prize-winning Australian-American biochemist and molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn is best known for co-discovering the enzyme telomerase. She was allegedly removed from the American President's Council on Bioethics over her support for stem cell research, which went against the government. She has honorary doctorate degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton.

 38 Amy Cuddy

Amy Cuddy
5
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: June 23, 1972
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Robesonia, Pennsylvania, USA

 39 Camille Paglia

Camille Paglia
7
Famous As: Cultural critic
Birthdate: April 2, 1947
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Endicott

 40 Barbara Tuchman

Barbara Tuchman
4
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: January 30, 1912
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: February 6, 1989

Barbara Tuchman was an American author and historian whose best-selling book The Guns of August (1962) earned her the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Tuchman won her second Pulitzer Prize for writing a biography of General Joseph Stilwell titled Stilwell and the American Experience in China (1971).

 41 Dee Dee Myers

Dee Dee Myers
8
Famous As: Political scientist
Birthdate: September 1, 1961
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: North Kingstown, Rhode Island North Kingstown, Rhode Island, U.S.

 42 Lillian Moller Gilbreth

Lillian Moller Gilbreth
3
Famous As: Psychologist
Birthdate: May 24, 1878
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
Died: January 2, 1972

 43 Robin DiAngelo

Robin DiAngelo
5
Famous As: Academic
Birthdate: September 8, 1956
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: San Jose, California,

 44 Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs
3
Famous As: Author, Social Activist, Philosopher, and Feminist
Birthdate: June 27, 1915
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
Died: October 5, 2015

 45 Laura Schlessinger

Laura Schlessinger
4
Famous As: Psychologist, Radio personality
Birthdate: January 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

 46 Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore
3
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: August 27, 1966
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: West Boylston, Massachusetts, United States

Jill Lepore is an American journalist and historian who is currently teaching American History at Harvard University. She has also been an important contributor to The New Yorker, writing about American history, literature, law, and politics since 2005. Over the years her work has earned her prestigious awards, such as the Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and American History Book Prize.

 47 Heather Cox Richardson

Heather Cox Richardson
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: 1962 AD
Birthplace: Maine, U.S.

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.

 48 Mary Parker Follett

Mary Parker Follett
4
Famous As: Social Woker
Birthdate: September 3, 1868
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Quincy, Massachusetts, United States
Died: December 18, 1933

 49 Mariana Mazzucato

Mariana Mazzucato
3
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: June 16, 1968
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Rome, Italy

Award-winning economist and University College London professor Mariana Mazzucato was born to a physicist father in Italy. She has also held academic posts at institutes such as the University of Sussex. She is best known for her research on economic innovation and has penned books such as The Entrepreneurial State.

 50 Christine Blasey Ford

Christine Blasey Ford
15
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: November 28, 1966
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: United States
Palo Alto University professor and Stanford researcher Christine Blasey Ford made headlines when, in 2018, she accused U.S. Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her back in 1982. Apart from teaching psychology, she has also been a biostatistician. She was also named to Time 100 in 2019.