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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
16 Terri Irwin
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.
18 Lucy Worsley
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.
20 Susan Sontag
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
32 Sarah Vowell
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
35 Mary Beard
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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 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.
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.
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
49 Edith Stein
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.
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.