The pages of history are filled with examples of women making major contributions to society and helping propel humankind into the future. However, some of these examples tend to be glossed over and overlooked by some historians. In fact, The Representation Project claims that women are only represented in 0.5 percent of recorded history.

Wanting to improve all of our understanding of history, Reddit user Dundermifflinhoe urged their fellow redditors to share examples of great women that we may not have heard of. And when you’re done reading through this list and sharing who you personally think some women that often get overlooked in history are, check out Bored Panda’s post about people sharing their female heroes whom they admire right here.

The author of the thread told Bored Panda that they'd turned to Reddit with their question because they're currently working on a paper on the history of women and hysteria for a class in school.

"I realized that I don't know many famous women throughout history. Learning about how so many women who had thoughts or opinions on a subject were deemed crazy put into perspective how little I knew, and I wanted to educate myself more. Hopefully, some other people who were curious about it can benefit as well. I absolutely did not expect it to blow up as big as it did, but I’m happy that so many people are wanting to further educate themselves on the topic as well." Read on for our full interviews with Dundermifflinhoe and with an expert on gender discrimination.

#1

Women-Overlooked-History Nellie Bly. She was a 1890s journalist who was given an assignment to investigate the Woman’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island due to accusations of the mistreatment of patients. She got in there by faking insanity and getting herself committed to the asylum, and when she was finally released, she ran an exposé in the New York World called “Ten Days In A Madhouse” that exposed the awful treatment of patients inside the asylum. This was considered a revolution in investigative journalism. Also, she read “Around The World In 80 Days”, basically decided she could do better, and went around the world in 72 days. She was also an inventor, and was one of the primary journalists to cover the suffragette movement. She's one of my favorite historical figures who doesn’t get enough attention!

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Mihran Hovnanian
Community Member
2 months ago

+ became CEO of Iron Clad Manufacturing Co after her husband's death + registered engineering patents + WWI reporter on the eastern front.... what more did she need to do to get recognition!!?!?

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#2

Women-Overlooked-History Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. She is the Dean of Medicine at Hurley Children's Hospital in Flint, MI. She saw that children were having elevated lead levels (ELLs) outside the normal range. She contacted the Genesee Department of Health, who at first, dismissed her claim, then sent her obfuscated data to make it look like the ELLs were completely within normal trends. She grew frustrated at this, so she called a team of epidemiologists from UVA (her alma mater) to find the source of the lead. Lo and behold, she found that the water in multiple zip codes was contaminated with lead. She informed the Genesee Department of Health Again, who brushed her off. She then said "f**k it" and held a major press conference where she announced on air that the water in Flint wasn't safe and to come to the hospital to get your child tested and to pick up supplies of water and liquid infant formula. She saved thousands of children from the permanent effects of lead poisoning.

MadameBurner , wikipedia Report

Kizzie
Community Member
2 months ago

Just covering up the comment below...

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#3

Women-Overlooked-History Grace Hopper. This should so be higher up. Without Grace, programming would have been reserved for scientists only. We probably wouldn't have most of what we have today in regards to software and the advantages we enjoyed because of that.

She was a Motherf**king Legend.

She had a masters in maths in a time when a lot of Universities still didn't allow women to attend.

On her very first Job with a computer, she asked for a manual. They told her there isn't one. A few months later she had written one.

When she suggested the idea of a compiler - a way to write more English like statements to make the whole programming thing easier, faster and more accessible to the masses - she was told not to do it. Scientists firstly didn't believe it could be done, and secondly didn't want it to be done because they were more interested in protecting their "elite" career of programming.

She did it anyway.

Reapr , Wikipedia Report

Mihran Hovnanian
Community Member
2 months ago

aka: "The Queen of Software"... aka: "Amazing Grace"

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The redditor said that they believe so many women get overlooked in history because they're discriminated again. "They weren’t in a position of power to safely promote their ideas on a certain topic or were told that they were crazy. I think the biggest reason would be that we just aren’t taught about their contributions and after so many decades and centuries, their names just gets lost."

However, the redditor believes that society is changing for the better and allows better recognition for women. Yet, there's still a long way to go. "We’re still not where we need to be. Continuing to educate ourselves, as well as asking questions, will help pave a way for women to be as equally recognized by men in the future."

#4

Women-Overlooked-History Bessie Coleman. She was a black woman who wanted to learn to fly. No one would teach her. She learned that the French would however, so she moved to France, learned French and how to fly. Then she came back to the states and taught whoever wanted to learn. She was alive same time as Amelia Earhart and got no recognition at the time.

daschle04 , Wikipedia Report

Clara Knaub
Community Member
2 months ago

Man. We all know Amelia Earhart and no one has heard of Bessie Coleman? It’s so unfair.

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#5

Women-Overlooked-History Marie Tharp; she created the first map of the ocean floor, which led to the discovery of tectonic plates, and the theory of continental drift.

PhantomKitten73 , wikipedia Report

Lil~Griffin
Community Member
2 months ago

I learned about her in science class, she is amazing !

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#6

Women-Overlooked-History Katherine Johnson, one of the first black mathmeticians to work for NASA. She did a lot of work on calculating trajectories for the Apollo missions, but her most important contributions were the backup procedures for the Apollo 13 mission. You've probably heard the famous line, "Houston, we have a problem." Katherine Johnson is responsible for solving that problem by calculating a safe return for the Apollo 13 astronauts.

AstronomicalAxolotl , Wikipedia Report

Wolfstar
Community Member
2 months ago

There's a movie about her, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson. It's really good, it's called Hidden Figures.

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History is one thing, but what about the challenges that women face in the workplace today? To learn more about them, Bored Panda contacted Elizabeth Arif-Fear, writer and founder of Voice of Salam. Arif-Fear, an expert in topics like gender (in)equality, explained that there are “major obstacles” for women in the workplace. However, to what extent and how this manifests actually varies by profession, location, and the working culture of the company or employer.

“The gender pay gap is of course the most obvious marker of gender inequality in the workplace and is a gross violation of women's rights,” she pointed out the clearest example.

#7

Women-Overlooked-History Claudette Colvin was the person who refused to get up from her bus seat during the Jim Crows in America. But she was a young woman who was pregnant out of wedlock at the time, and the black leaders decided she was not a good image of an activist. So they handpicked Rosa Parks to do the same.

GovMajor , Wikipedia Report

Mme de Poppadom
Community Member
2 months ago

Everyone keeps missing the bigger picture, was that this was a concerted social justice effort to bring the issue of segregation into the legal system, using the Montgomery Bus System as the vehicle (NPI) to stage the case that would get argued in court. Rosa Parks, a middle-aged seamstress, had less of a scandalous life to detract from character assassination as their test case, unlike the unwed mother, but the prosecutors still tried to smear her moral fitness.

Bama Belle
Community Member
2 months ago

We understand their motives for going with Rosa, but still it was incredibly unfair to Claudette.

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Clara Knaub
Community Member
2 months ago

No way!!! That is NOT fair!! 😡

Soap
Community Member
2 months ago

Yeah, and stuff isn't fair. i hate it too, but it's other people and stupid ideas that made it this way.

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AnInrovert
Community Member
2 months ago

OhMyGod! What!?!? No way! Every time someone mentions Rosa Parks I’m gonna mention this.

Museo
Community Member
2 months ago

I'm shocked. I never heard of this. The media still spreads "the other story".

BusLady
Community Member
2 months ago

Ms. Colvin was also treated very roughly during her arrest in the bus incident, then ironically charged with assaulting a police officer. She was a plaintiff in the trial for segregation of the bus system, along with 3 other women. I highly recommend her biography, "Twice Toward Justice."

Dippin Dot
Community Member
2 months ago

I learned about Claudette from the Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta. If you ever get a chance, I HIGHLY recommend going there. I was talking with one of the employees who ended up giving us an impromptu performance of one of Dr. Kings speeches that he performs around the country. It gave me goosebumps.

Sonka
Community Member
2 months ago

very sad ... also oops I guess Doctor WHO has some schooling to do ...

Delancey
Community Member
2 months ago

I'm sorry what

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#8

Women-Overlooked-History Ada Lovelace. She's so awesome. For anyone that doesn't know, she effectively invented the basis for modern computer programming by observing her friend Charles Babbage's work on his Analytical Machine, which was effectively a calculator. She realised that it was possible to do more than just maths with it and thus established the basis for modern computing.

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David K
Community Member
2 months ago

This should be higher. I read a few articles about her and she was a brilliant mind. She was also the daughter of the poet lord Byron.

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#9

Women-Overlooked-History In 1952 Dr. Virginia Apgar developed a quick, easy five-point test that summarizes health of newborns, and determine those needing emergency assistance. The Apgar Score is now given to practically every newborn, and helped save countless young lives, and reduce infant mortality.

anthropology_nerd Report

Tiari
Community Member
2 months ago

Well... the test that wears her name and is used all over the world would beg to differ that she is overlooked...

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Looking at the situation in North America and Europe, Arif-Fear sees that the talent of female employees is recognized, however, there are clear obstacles that need to be addressed.

“Discrimination includes women being denied work, in preference for men due to maternity leave allowances. Due to the imbalance between caring for children and housework among male/female partnerships—which is still prevalent across the globe—women are left juggling a high amount of childcare and work which places extra demands on women,” she explained.

There are ways around this. For instance, employers could offer flexible schedules to allow parents to drop their children off at school in the morning. However, Arif-Fear believes that this isn’t enough. “Practical barriers add an extra burden onto women. Beyond childcare, women in leadership is an area that is evolving but there is still a massive glass ceiling. We need more women in leadership positions,” she added.

#10

Women-Overlooked-History Irena Sendler worked with others to smuggle Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.

soulinameatsuit , Wikipedia Report

Clara Knaub
Community Member
2 months ago

I’m reading a book right now about a Jewish child getting out of Luxembourg before the war became too bad! The girl had someone who helped her get out and risked their life for her. This lady here is amazing!

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#11

Women-Overlooked-History Sandra Ford, the drug technician who first brought attention to what would become the AIDS epidemic. She knew something was up when she began receiving unusually high numbers of requests for pentamidine, an antibiotic reserved for treating pneumocystis pneumonia in seriously ill, immuno-compromised patients. The patients it was being requested for were gay men who had been otherwise healthy.

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JessG
Community Member
2 months ago

Bless her

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#12

Women-Overlooked-History Cicely Saunders deserves the reputation Mother Tereasa has. She basically invented hospice care. Before her, doctors used to just abandon incurables to die with no palliative care. Cecily Saunders arguably eliminated more useless suffering than anyone ever.

DrainageSpanial , Wikipedia Report

Mme de Poppadom
Community Member
2 months ago

No one "deserves" MT's reputation, as I'm sure none of us in a role of providing compassionate care would *encourage* suffering of another because of our personal beliefs, nor deny patients with AIDS to TV watching because their sickness derived from "sin".

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#13

Women-Overlooked-History Rosalind Franklin - Crick & Watson got all the glory, and even the plaque at the Eagle only mentions their name.Watson and Crick basically stole her research and used it to discover the shape of DNA. They were awarded the Nobel Prize for their discovery. Once the theft was discovered, and she was given proper credit, she had already died from cancer (her work specialized in Xrays and she had been exposed to too much radiation). The Nobel Committee has acknowledged her contribution to science, but they can't give her an award because they do not give out awards posthumously.

linden_84 , Wikipedia Report

Mihran Hovnanian
Community Member
2 months ago

LIFE STORY: The Race for the Double Helix... Tells the story very well and Rosalind's part in detail... starring Juliet Stevenson and Jeff Goldblum

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#14

Women-Overlooked-History Mary Anning, the first paleontologist. She basically discovered that dinosaurs were a thing, and wasn't recognized for it until 2010 when the royal society of London named her as one of the 10 most influential British woman of science.

MariposaWhite , Wikipedia Report

Mommyofboth
Community Member
2 months ago

I didn't know about her until last year when my daughter brought her history homework out. I was amazed!

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#15

Women-Overlooked-History Madam C. J. Walker developed black hair care products and marketed them through her business she founded which ended up making her the first female self made millionaire.

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Marija Dominyka
Community Member
2 months ago

Watch "Self made" on Netflix - it's about her. I absolutely loved it, amazing woman!

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#16

Women-Overlooked-History Artemisia Gentileschi was one of the most prolific artists (Judith Slaying Holofernes is probably her most recognisable painting) of the 17th century at a time when obviously women weren’t encouraged or allowed in the very male-dominated space. She was a pro at only 15, working all over and she was the first woman to be accepted into the Art Academy (forgive the bad English translation but the Italian name escapes me) in Florence. There’s a lot more to this of course but she took her rapist to court & he was found guilty after a seven month long trial. She had no time for female submissiveness which is reflected in her art. Her story is remarkable & her art is utterly compelling.

Elle_kay_ , Wikipedia Report

lizbetann
Community Member
2 months ago

I particularly adore the painting used as her image -- its a self-portait as an allegory of the concept of painting itself. That she felt her own image was important enough to preserve was radical for the time.

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#17

Women-Overlooked-History Mileva Marić Einstein (Albert Einstein's first wife), a brilliant physicist, whose contribution to Albert's work cannot be emphasized enough.

hopperrr , Wikipedia Report

Cynthia Bonville
Community Member
2 months ago

And there is much evidence she came up with the theory of relativity herself. But that's blasphemous.

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#18

Women-Overlooked-History The Allied codebreakers at places like Bletchley Park during WWII. They worked incredibly long, tedious, and stressful hours and were a major contributor to the war effort and military intelligence, but their work didn't even receive official recognition from the British government until 2009, 64 years after the war ended.

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M O'Connell
Community Member
2 months ago

The entirety of project Ultra remained classified until 1974, those involved could not even talk about it before then. They were certainly known from the numerous books and documentary films about the project that followed. It was nice that they received a [belated] statement of thanks though.

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#19

Women-Overlooked-History Henrietta Lacks.

She saved millions of lives and made a critical contribution to the world of medicine, but unless you're in the medical field — you've probably never even heard her name.

Henrietta Lacks was a young, black, mother of five when she died in 1951 after being diagnosed with an aggressive cervical cancer at Johns Hopkins. Doctor George Gey was working at Hopkins at the time, trying to culture cells in the laboratory. Lacks' cells were among dozens sent to his lab, but they were the first to ever survive and grow. Her cells, a unique and aggressive type, were later described as one in three billion.

Scientists called these resilient cells "HeLa" — taking first two letters of "Henrietta" and "Lacks." HeLa cells were used to test the polio vaccine, develop in vitro fertilization, and several chemotherapy drugs among hundreds of medical advances.

Grown and sold around the world, Lacks' legacy lived on in her cells: they have traveled to space, they have been embedded in a nuclear bomb. But for decades, the Lacks family had no idea.

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Romenriel
Community Member
2 months ago

Fascinating story. It built up my belief that noone can say value of a person or an impact their life will have.

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#20

Women-Overlooked-History Mary Anderson invented the windshield wiper in 1903. As soon as the patent expired, it became standard in all cars. She attempted to sell it while she had the rights to it, but most manufacturers refused to believe it was a feature of value, and it is likely her being female colored their lack of enthusiasm.

YuunofYork , Wikipedia Report

Mohammad Ammar
Community Member
2 months ago

Yes I read about her in school

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#21

Women-Overlooked-History Virginia Hall has a building named after her at the CIA. She was an American woman from Baltimore who went to Europe in the 1930s, lost her leg in a shooting accident, then proceeded to become a leader in the French Resistance and master of disguise, all with a wooden leg. The book A Woman of No Importance is about her and came out last year.

Muchamuchacha42 , Wikipedia Report

Mme de Poppadom
Community Member
2 months ago

Pretty much all stories of those who were in the Resistance during the war are fascinating.... definitely worth a look.

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#22

Women-Overlooked-History Cecilia Payne, discovered what universe is made out of... And don't even get a mention in textbooks

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Monica Young
Community Member
2 months ago

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin discovered that stars were mostly made of hydrogen, which went against the current thinking. Henry Norris Russell, an astronomer who reviewed her thesis, encouraged her to weaken her conclusion (though he later came around), which is probably why it took so long for her to get credit for her discovery.

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#23

Women-Overlooked-History Anna Connelly invented the fire escape in 1887.

That same year, Josephine Cochrane invented the dishwasher.

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Sasha Kuleshov
Community Member
2 months ago

Bless her! :D

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#24

Women-Overlooked-History Eleanor Marx - Maybe overlooked because of her dad. She played an important role in British Trade Unions which forced the move from a 12 hour working day 6 days a week to an 8 hour day 5 days a weekend. Those extra hours to go on a walk, play Xbox, learn something new or just chill is a pretty big contribution.

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Sasha Kuleshov
Community Member
2 months ago

Yay, unions! :D

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#25

Women-Overlooked-History Inge Lehmann was a Danish seismologist. She discovered P' waves (waves that reflect off of the inner-core), confirming that the earth has a solid inner-core and a liquid outer-core.

Occams_l2azor , Wikipedia Report

Birma Gustafsson
Community Member
2 months ago

A brilliant woman!!

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#26

Women-Overlooked-History Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones

Dr. Jones singlehandedly organized the field of Gynecological Endocrinology. While at John’s Hopkins with her husband, Dr. Howard Jones and Drs. Roberts and Steptoe, she devised the hypothesis of follicular hyper stimulation, which produced more than one egg per cycle. Her later discoveries led to increases in viability of In Vitro Fertilization.

Per Wikipedia : As a resident at Johns Hopkins, she discovered that the pregnancy hormone hCG was manufactured by the placenta, not the pituitary gland as originally thought. This discovery led to the development of many of the early over-the-counter pregnancy test kits currently available. On 1949, Jones made the first description of Luteal Phase Dysfunction and is credited to be the first in using progesterone to treat women with a history of miscarriages, thus allowing many of them to not only conceive, but to deliver healthy babies

She also served as a Dean of the College of Pontifical Sciences, advising the Vatican of matters of Gynecology and Conception.

Her husband always said “She’s the smarter one.”

She was also a great friend.

Fyrepup , Wikipedia Report

Angela Rickett
Community Member
2 months ago

Thank you Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones. Because of your work, we have our beautiful son, Benjamin!

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#27

Women-Overlooked-History The Soviet Air Force's 588th Night Bomber Regiment. An all-female bombing wing during WWII that had to make do with a lot of outdated equipment.

However, they were a MAJOR thorn in Germany's side, taking out encampment after encampment. Their secret? They struck by night and cut their engines right before bombing the enemy. This gave them the nickname "Night Witches." Comparatively, I'm pretty sure they had one of the higher survival rates when it came to bombing squadrons.

Sabaton actually based one of their songs off of them in their album "Heroes."

jedimasterb10 , Wikipedia Report

Evil Little Thing
Community Member
2 months ago

IIRC they had to climb out the plane and throw bombs down by hand, too.

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#28

Women-Overlooked-History Daphne Oram - first ever composer to produce electronic sound. She pioneered electronic music and lead the path for music today. She even wrote a piece called “Still Point” that she was never able to perform live because of sexism by her peers and she never heard it live before she died. But it was performed for the first time in 2018 using a replica of a machine Daphne had created to electronically manipulate a live orchestra.

thatgreengentleman92 , Wikipedia Report

Clara Knaub
Community Member
2 months ago

I hate that people wouldn’t let her piece be performed because she was a girl. At least it was performed in 2018.

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#29

Tapputi-Belatekallim, who lived around 1200 B.C. in Babylonia. She is considered the world's first chemist. Her filtering and distillation of various materials is the world's oldest mentioned still.

Bem-ti-vi Report

Birma Gustafsson
Community Member
2 months ago

You can never keep a brilliant woman down, no matter the century!

#30

Women-Overlooked-History Margaret Hamilton and her team wrote all of the math it took to get to the moon.

Professional-Can8235 , Wikipedia Report

Orillion
Community Member
2 months ago

They wrote the software to get to the moon, not the math.

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