Women Intellectuals & Academics

Throughout history, there have been many women intellectuals & academics who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great female intellectuals & academics such as Jane Goodall, Ann Dunham, Hildegard of Bingen, Simone de Beauvoir, Mary Wollstonecraft.The women intellectuals & academics featured in this list are from United States, United Kingdom, Canada & India 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 Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir
13
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: January 9, 1908
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: April 14, 1986
French author and existentialist philosopher Simone de Beauvoir is best remembered for her feminist treatise The Second Sex and her novels The Mandarins and She Came to Stay. Her literary contributions also include essays, biographies, and her autobiographical works. She won the Prix Goncourt and the Jerusalem Prize.

 2 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.

 3 Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt
14
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 14, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Linden - Mitte, Hanover, Germany
Died: December 4, 1975

Hannah Arendt was a political theorist. Widely regarded as one of the 20th century's most prominent political thinkers, Hannah Arendt's articles and books have had a significant influence on philosophy and political theory. Her life and work inspired the 2012 biographical drama film, Hannah Arendt. Her work has also inspired several biographies written by popular authors.

 4 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.

 5 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.

 6 Anna Freud

Anna Freud
5
Famous As: Psychoanalyst
Birthdate: December 3, 1895
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: October 9, 1982

Anna Freud was a British psychoanalyst. The daughter of Sigmund Freud, Anna followed in the footsteps of her father and made important contributions to the field of psychoanalysis. Alongside Melanie Klein and Hermine Hug-Hellmuth, Anna Freud is counted among the founders of psychoanalytic child psychology. Her work and contributions were featured in a documentary titled The Century of the Self.

 7 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall
8
Famous As: Primatologist
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.

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 8 Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale
6
Famous As: Social reformer, Statistician
Birthdate: May 12, 1820
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Died: August 13, 1910
The Lady with the Lamp Florence Nightingale is remembered for her relentless efforts in nursing soldiers during the Crimean War. She founded London’s St Thomas' Hospital to train nurses. She also pioneered the use of the polar area diagram and was the first female member of the Royal Statistical Society.

 9 Karen Horney

Karen Horney
7
Famous As: Psychoanalyst
Birthdate: September 16, 1885
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Blankenese, Hamburg, Germany
Died: December 4, 1952

Remembered for her pioneering work on feminist psychology, Karen Horney studied medicine at a time when women weren’t allowed in universities. Going against Sigmund Freud’s concept of penis envy, she suggested the idea of womb envy. She believed psychological differences weren’t rooted in gender but rather depended on the socio-cultural influences.

 10 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.

 11 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.

 12 Mary Wollstonecraft

Mary Wollstonecraft
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: April 27, 1759
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 10, 1797

Mary Wollstonecraft was an English writer, advocate of women's rights, and philosopher. Wollstonecraft, who attracted a lot of attention for her unconventional personal relationships, is widely considered a founding feminist philosopher. Although her unorthodoxy initially attracted criticisms, her advocacy of women's equality became increasingly important during the 20th century. Modern-day feminists cite her works and her life as important influences.

 13 Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice
10
Famous As: 66th United States Secretary of State (2005-09)
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.

 14 Hypatia

Hypatia
9
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: 0350 AD
Birthplace: Alexandria, Egypt
Died: February 29, 0415
Hypatia was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer who lived during the 4th and 5th centuries. She also taught and served as a counselor. She is remembered for her commentary on Diophantus's Arithmetica. She was later murdered and became a symbol of feminism and of opposition to Catholic ideals.

 15 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.

 16 Terri Irwin

Terri Irwin
6
Famous As: Naturalist Who is The Owner of Australia Zoo in 'Beerwah, Queensland'
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.

 17 Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg
15
Famous As: Marxist economist
Birthdate: March 5, 1871
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Zamosc, Poland
Died: January 15, 1919
Polish Marxist and socialist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg was a member of parties such as the SPD, the USPD, and the KPD. Luxemburg was an anti-war activist and taught economics and Marxism at SPD's Berlin training center. She was assassinated by the Freikorps troops during the German Revolution

 18 Lucy Worsley

Lucy Worsley
5
Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: December 18, 1973
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Reading, Berkshire, England, UK

British historian and author Lucy Worsley is not just a curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces, but is also a famed TV presenter, popular for her work on series such as A Very British Murder and If Walls Could Talk. Suffering from a speech disorder, she pronounces “r” in a peculiar way.

 19 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

 20 Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag
4
Famous As: Writer and Filmmaker, Best Known for her Essay 'Notes on 'Camp'
Birthdate: January 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: New York, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 2004
Susan Sontag is best known for her essay anthologies such as Against Interpretation and her novels such as In America. She wrote about diverse issues such as human rights, photography, AIDS, and leftist beliefs, and also visited war-torn areas. The National Book Award-winning author was also openly bisexual. 

 21 Helena Blavatsky

Helena Blavatsky
4
Famous As: Writer, Co-founder of the Theosophical Society
Birthdate: August 12, 1831
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Dnipro, Ukraine
Died: May 8, 1891

Russian philosopher Helena Blavatsky, or Madame Blavatsky, was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society. She popularized the slogan “There is no religion higher than truth.” She was inspired by the Arya Samaj and later converted to Buddhism. She also wrote books such as The Secret Doctrine.

 22 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

 23 Alice Roberts

Alice Roberts
6
Famous As: Anthropologist
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.

 24 Queen Máxima of the Netherlands

Queen Máxima of the Netherlands
5
Famous As: Queen
Birthdate: May 17, 1971
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buenos Aires, Argentina

The queen consort of the Netherlands, Queen Máxima is the daughter of Argentine politician Jorge Zorreguieta. She initially worked in the sales departments of HDFC and Deutsche Bank. She apparently didn’t know she was meeting a prince when she met her husband, King Willem-Alexander, at the Seville Spring Fair.

 25 Harriet Martineau

Harriet Martineau
4
Famous As: First female sociologist
Birthdate: June 12, 1802
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Norwich, Norfolk, England
Died: June 27, 1876

Regarded by many as the first female sociologist, Harriet Martineau was a prominent 19th-century social theorist, classical economist, and intellectual who penned the iconic work The Positive Philosophy of Auguste Comte. She was partially deaf and had lost her sense of taste and smell in childhood.

 26 Katharine Gun

Katharine Gun
8
Famous As: Linguist
Birthdate: 1974 AD
Birthplace: Taiwan, Taiwan

 27 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.

 28 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.

 29 Juana Inés de la Cruz

Juana Inés de la Cruz
5
Famous As: Early feminist author and philosopher who studied everything around her and argued forcefully that all women should be allowed to do the same
Birthdate: November 12, 1648
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Nepantla de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Mexico
Died: April 17, 1695

Mexican nun Juana Inés de la Cruz was one of the finest authors of the Latin American colonial era. Initially the lady-in-waiting of Mexico’s viceroy, she later took her vows. She built a huge library and penned masterpieces such as the poem Primero sueño and the religious drama El divino Narciso.

 30 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.

 31 Gwynne Gilford

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

 32 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.

 33 Simone Weil

Simone Weil
5
Famous As: French philosopher, mystic and activist in the French Resistance during WWII.
Birthdate: February 3, 1909
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 24, 1943
Paris-born philosopher and activist Simone Weil could speak in Sanskrit and Greek as a student. Called The Martian by her classmates, due to her peculiar nature, she died of cardiac failure at 34, refusing to eat more than the people of German-occupied France, in spite of being diagnosed with tuberculosis. 

 34 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

 35 Mary Beard

Mary Beard
4
Famous As: Professor
Birthdate: January 1, 1955
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Much Wenlock, United Kingdom

Known as the most famous classicist in the world, Mary Beard is a Cambridge professor who is also quite popular for her controversial blog A Don's Life. A DBE and OBE, she also contributes to BBC radio and TV shows and has been an editor for The Times Literary Supplement.

 36 Anita Bose Pfaff

Anita Bose Pfaff
5
Famous As: Economist
Birthdate: November 29, 1942
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Anita Bose Pfaff is an economist and the only daughter of Indian freedom fighter Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Austrian wife/companion Emilie Schenkl. Anita was just 4 months old when Netaji left them to fight against the British with Japan’s help. Anita was singlehandedly raised by Emilie.

 37 Judith Butler

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

 38 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.

 39 Tu Youyou

Tu Youyou
4
Famous As: chemist, pharmacologist, inventor, university teacher
Birthdate: December 30, 1930
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Ningbo

Chinese phytochemist and malariologist Tu Youyou is best remembered for her Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the anti-malarial drug qinghaosu, or artemisinin. She is the first Chinese female Nobel laureate. A tuberculosis infection in her younger days had inspired her to step into medicine. She later studied traditional Chinese medicine, too.

 40 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.

 41 Suzannah Lipscomb

Suzannah Lipscomb
4
Famous As: historian
Birthdate: December 7, 1978
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Barnes, London, United Kingdom

Apart from being a historian and an award-winning professor, Suzannah Lipscomb is also a popular author and broadcaster. Known for presenting documentary series such as Walking Tudor England and Witch Hunt: A Century of Murder, she also pens columns for History Today and other publications and is a public speaker, too.

 42 Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch
4
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: July 15, 1919
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dublin, Ireland
Died: February 8, 1999

One of the most popular Irish-born British novelists, Iris Murdoch is remembered for her psychological novels, which had a good dose of sexuality, philosophy, morality, and comic elements. While she won the Booker Prize for The Sea, the Sea, the Oxford alumnus had also worked for the HM Treasury and the UN.

 43 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.

 44 Romila Thapar

Romila Thapar
11
Famous As: Historian known for Authoring books about Indian history
Birthdate: November 30, 1931
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India

Renowned history scholar and JNU professor Romila Thapar has also taught at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. She has previously been in the news for rejecting the Padma Bhushan twice, stating she didn’t accept state awards. She has also often opposed Hindutva and the “saffronization” of education.

 45 Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich
4
Famous As: Journalist
Birthdate: May 31, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine

Nobel Prize-winning Belarusian journalist and oral historian Svetlana Alexievich is known for her signature documentary-style novels, which mingle fiction and reporting. Her five-part Voices of Utopia mirrored the lives of people in the Soviet Union. With her writing, she often criticizes the governments of Belarus and the Soviet Union.

 46 France Nuyen

France Nuyen
4
Famous As: Actress
Birthdate: July 31, 1939
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Marseille, France

 47 Christina Hoff Sommers

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

 48 Luce Irigaray

Luce Irigaray
3
Famous As: Philosopher, linguist, Feminist
Birthdate: May 3, 1930
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Bernissart, Belgium

 49 Edith Stein

Edith Stein
4
Famous As: Philosopher
Birthdate: October 12, 1891
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wrocław, Poland
Died: August 9, 1942

Edith Stein was a German Jewish philosopher who studied at the University of Freiburg and completed her dissertation on empathy. Always interested in Catholicism, she read the autobiography of the mystic Teresa of Ávila and converted to Christianity, and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She was killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp and is canonized as a martyr.

 50 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.