Women Anthropologists

Throughout history, there have been many women anthropologists who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great female anthropologists such as Jane Goodall, Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, Ann Dunham, Dian Fossey.The women anthropologists featured in this list are from United States, United Kingdom, Canada & Australia and many more countries.

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
(Zoologist, Conservationist)

Dian Fossey
6
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
(Folklorist, Anthropologist)

Zora Neale Hurston
12
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
(Cultural Anthropologist)

Margaret Mead
8
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 
Ruth Benedict
(Anthropologist, Folklorist, University teacher, Poet, Sociologist, Biographer)

Ruth Benedict
3
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.

 5 
Jane Goodall
(Primatologist)

Jane Goodall
6
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hampstead, London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

 6 
Ann Dunham
(Anthropologist, Barack Obama's Mother)

Ann Dunham
6
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.

 7 
Alice Roberts
(Anthropologist)

Alice Roberts
6
Birthdate: May 19, 1973
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bristol
Biological anthropologist Alice Roberts has taught at the University of Birmingham and led the charity Humanists UK. She gained fame as the presenter of shows such as Dr. Alice Roberts: Don't Die Young and The Incredible Human Journey. She has also authored books such as The Complete Human Body.
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 8 
Mary Douglas
(Anthropologist)

Mary Douglas
3
Birthdate: March 25, 1921
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Sanremo, Italy
Died: May 16, 2007

Best known for her book Purity and Danger, anthropologist Mary Douglas specialized in human culture and comparative religion. Initially employed with the British Colonial Office, she later worked with the matrilineal community of the Lele people of Kasai. She was known to be a devout Catholic.

 9 
Mary Leakey
(Paleoanthropologist)

Mary Leakey
3
Birthdate: February 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 9, 1996

British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey had exhibited her interest in drawing and archaeology as a kid. Most of her career was spent working alongside her husband, Louis Leakey. She was in charge of many excavation projects in Kenya. Her discoveries include the first Proconsul skull fossil and 15 new animal species.

 10 
Margaret Murray
(Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Egyptologist)

Margaret Murray
3
Birthdate: July 13, 1863
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 13, 1963

British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray was also a scholar of witchcraft. Her best-known work is her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which inspired later witchcraft scholars such as Gerald B. Gardner. The University College London professor had worked in places such as Egypt, Malta, and Petra.

 11 
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
(anthropologist)

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
2
Birthdate: September 25, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City

 12 
Gayle Rubin
(Cultural anthropologist best known as an activist and theorist of sex and gender politics)

Gayle Rubin
3
Birthdate: January 1, 1949
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: South Carolina, United States

Gayle Rubin is a cultural anthropologist known for writing on a wide range of topics, such as feminism, sadomasochism, prostitution, homosexuality, pedophilia, and pornography. She studied at the University of Michigan and was part of early feminist groups. After earning her Ph.D. in anthropology, she began her academic career. She is also associated with several feminist journals. 

 13 
Helen Fisher
(Anthropologist)

Helen Fisher
3
Birthdate: May 31, 1945
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: United States

Best known for her research on the biological dynamics of love and sex, anthropologist Helen Fisher has also penned iconic self-help books such as Anatomy of Love and Why We Love. She has also worked with match.com, to develop a personality-based compatibility system and has been a TED speaker.

 14 

Kate Fox
3
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: England (U.K.)

 15 
Eva Justin
(Anthropologist)

Eva Justin
3
Birthdate: August 23, 1909
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: September 11, 1966

 16 
Froyla Tzalam
(3rd Governor-General of Belize)

Froyla Tzalam
1
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: San Antonio, Belize

Unnur Birna Vilhjálmsdóttir
3
Birthdate: May 25, 1984
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Reykjavík, Iceland

 18 
Lila Abu-Lughod
(Anthropologist)

Lila Abu-Lughod
0
Birthdate: October 21, 1952
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: United States

 19 
Sula Benet
(Anthropologist)

Sula Benet
2
Birthdate: September 23, 1903
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: November 12, 1982

 20 
Louise Leakey
(Paleontologist)

Louise Leakey
3
Birthdate: March 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Nairobi, Kenya

 21 
Pearl Primus
(Dancer)

Pearl Primus
2
Birthdate: November 29, 1919
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Died: October 29, 1994

 22 
Meave Leakey
(Paleoanthropologist)

Meave Leakey
2
Birthdate: July 28, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England

British paleoanthropologist Meave Leakey discovered a new branch of the human species, the Kenyanthropus platyops, or the flat-faced man of Kenya. Initially a zoologist in Nairobi, she studied modern monkeys as part of her doctoral research. She is the first Kenyan to be a National Academy of Sciences member.

 23 
Eugenie Scott
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Eugenie Scott
2
Birthdate: October 24, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: United States of America

 24 
Marilyn Strathem
(Anthropologist)

Marilyn Strathem
0
Birthdate: March 6, 1941
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Wales
Marilyn Strathern, a British anthropologist, dealt with issues of reproductive technologies in UK. She worked largely with the Mount Hagen people of Papua New Guinea. Over her career, Strathern published over 15 books, 44 journal articles and 57 book chapters. Her doctoral thesis, published as Women in Between, was the first ethnography of that period to focus on Melanesian women.

 25 
Frances Densmore
(Anthropologist)

Frances Densmore
2
Birthdate: May 21, 1867
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Red Wing, Minnesota, United States
Died: June 5, 1957

 26 
Stella Nyanzi
(Human rights activist)

Stella Nyanzi
1
Birthdate: June 16, 1974
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Jinja, Uganda

 27 
Sherry Ortner
(Anthropologist, University teacher)

Sherry Ortner
2
Birthdate: September 19, 1941
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Newark

 28 
Johnnetta Cole
(Anthropologist and educator)

Johnnetta Cole
2
Birthdate: October 19, 1936
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Jacksonville, Florida, United States

 29 
Genevieve Bell
(Anthropologist)

Genevieve Bell
0
Birthdate: 1968 AD
Birthplace: Sydney, Australia

Apart from teaching at the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science, Australian anthropologist Genevieve Bell has also had an 18-year stint at Silicon Valley as an Intel Fellow. The Stanford alumna is also a TED speaker and has been named an Officer of the Order of Australia.

 30 
Georgina Born
(Academic)

Georgina Born
2
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Wheatley, England

While she performs as a musician using the name Georgina Born, Georgina Emma Mary Born is also a successful anthropologist and academician, known for her research on music, culture, and media. A bass guitarist and cellist for the rock group Henry Cow, she also uses ethnography to study culture.

 31 
Alsarah
(Ethnomusicologist, Musicologist)

Alsarah
2
Birthdate: 1982 AD
Birthplace: Khartoum, Sudan

 32 
Eliane Karp
(Anthropologist)

Eliane Karp
2
Birthdate: September 24, 1953
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Born to a Polish father and a Belgian mother in Paris, anthropologist and academic Eliane Karp later studied in Jerusalem, before moving to Stanford. The wife of former president of Peru Alejandro Toledo, she was dragged out of court, while cursing, after Toledo was denied bail in a bribery case.

 33 
Michelle Rosaldo
(Anthropologist)

Michelle Rosaldo
0
Birthdate: 1944 AD
Birthplace: New York, United States
Died: 1981 AD

 34 
Dame Anne Salmond
(Anthropologist)

Dame Anne Salmond
2
Birthdate: November 16, 1945
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Dame Anne Salmond is a New Zealand environmentalist, anthropologist, and writer. She is best known for her books about Māori life and history. In 2004, she was honored with the prestigious Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement under the non-fiction category. 

 35 

Alice Cunningham Fletcher
2
Birthdate: March 15, 1838
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: April 6, 1923

 36 
Hortense Powdermaker
(Cultural anthropologist)

Hortense Powdermaker
2
Birthdate: December 24, 1900
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died: June 15, 1970

 37 
Elsie Clews Parsons
(Anthropologist)

Elsie Clews Parsons
2
Birthdate: November 27, 1875
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: New York City, New York
Died: December 19, 1941

 38 

Ella Cara Deloria
2
Birthdate: January 31, 1889
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Yankton Reservation, South Dakota, United States
Died: February 12, 1971

 39 

Lydia Cabrera
2
Birthdate: May 20, 1899
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Havana, Cuba
Died: September 19, 1991

Lydia Cabrera was a Cuban independent ethnographer, writer, and literary activist. Cabrera published more than 100 books, including her most important work El Monte, the first major ethnographic study of herbalism, religion, and Afro-Cuban traditions. Lydia Cabrera’s research materials and papers were given to the Cuban Heritage Collection, which is part of the University of Miami's library.

 40 
Marjorie Shostak
(Anthropologist)

Marjorie Shostak
1
Birthdate: May 11, 1945
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Died: October 6, 1996

 41 
Myrna Mack
(Anthropologist)

Myrna Mack
1
Birthdate: October 24, 1949
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Guatemala
Died: September 11, 1990

 42 
Alma Karlin
(One of the First Women from Europe to Circumnavigate the Globe Alone)

Alma Karlin
1
Birthdate: October 12, 1889
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Celje, Slovenia
Died: January 15, 1950

Alma Karlin was a Slovenian writer, traveler, poet, collector, theosophist, and polyglot. She is best remembered for her feat of becoming one of the first women from Europe to circumnavigate the globe alone. Alma Karlin is also remembered for her rich body of work that includes novels, short stories, and novellas.

 43 
Aparna Rao
(Anthropologist)

Aparna Rao
1
Birthdate: February 3, 1950
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Delhi, India
Died: June 28, 2005

 44 
Safi Faye
(Film director, Anthropologist)

Safi Faye
1
Birthdate: November 22, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Dakar, Senegal

 45 

Shirley Campbell Barr
1
Birthdate: 1965 AD
Birthplace: San José, Costa Rica

 46 
Ruth Cardoso
(Anthropologist)

Ruth Cardoso
1
Birthdate: September 19, 1930
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Araraquara, Brazil
Died: June 24, 2008

Ruth Cardoso was a Brazilian anthropologist. She was a member of the Faculty of Philosophy, Letters, and Human Sciences at the University of São Paulo (FFLCH-USP). She was married to politician Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who served as the 34th President of Brazil. With him, she co-founded the research institute Cebrap. She was also the author of several influential books. 

 47 
Dawn Chatty
(Anthropologist, Writer)

Dawn Chatty
0
Birthdate: October 16, 1947
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: New York City, United States

 48 
Louise Lamphere
(Anthropologist)

Louise Lamphere
0
Birthdate: 1940 AD
Birthplace: United States

 49 
Montgomey McFate
(Anthropologist)

Montgomey McFate
0
Birthdate: January 8, 1966
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Sausalito, California, United States

 50 
Audrey Richards
(Anthropologist)

Audrey Richards
3
Birthdate: July 8, 1899
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 29, 1984

Audrey Richards, a pioneering British social anthropologist, produced notable ethnographic studies. She is best known for Chisingu: A Girl's initiation ceremony among the Bemba of Zambia. Her works covered a wide range of topics including nutrition, family structure, migration, and ethnicity. Audrey was also the first woman to hold the position of president of the Royal Anthropological Institute; she held it from 1964 to 1965.