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People Highlight The Overlooked Women Who Made Major Contributions To History

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We all learned history in school, but how much "herstory" do we know?


By that I mean the people we were taught about were almost entirely men and we know women haven't been sitting in the passenger's seat doing nothing for thousands of years. What about their stories?

One Reddit user asked:

Who are some women that often get overlooked in history but had major contributions to society?

The answers shed light on how much girl power and these Wonder Women really changed our lives.

Sandra Ford

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.

- scotstot8543

Virginia Apgar

baby documentary GIF by SundanceNOW DocClub Giphy

In 1952 Dr. Virginia Apgar developed a quick, easy, five-point test that summarizes health of newborns and determines 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

Yes! This was such an incredible advancement. I worked in a pediatrician's office which led to me reading a little more about her. Amazing how little she's mentioned but most of us are literally here because of her!

- theponkmist

Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly.

She was a 1890's journalist who was given an assignment to investigate the Women'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.

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!

- KungFu-Omega-Warrior

Mona Hanna-Attisha

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 VT 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*ck 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 when her Department Of Health would not. She also helped design systems to help parents whose children were suffering from lead poisoning.

- MadameBumer

Georgeanna Seeger Jones

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.- Fyrepup


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.

In 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. Her treatment allowed 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.

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Colvin Justice GIF by GIPHY Studios Originals Giphy

Claudette Colvin.

She was actually the first person who refused to get up from her bus seat during the Jim Crows in America. But she was a 15-year-old who was pregnant out of wedlock at the time. Black leaders decided she was not a good image of an activist.

So they hand-picked Rosa Parks, a woman who was already an activist to do the same. Rosa is considered a Civil Rights hero, but it was Claudette who actually got the ball rolling.

- GovMajor

Mary Anderson

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. It is very likely that her being female was behind their lack of enthusiasm.

They said it had no value; but their actions prove they knew exactly how valuable Mary's invention was. Her patent expired 1920. Car crews and design teams immediately start talking it up the line.

1922 it was in every Cadillac. Coincidence? Or they were sitting on the idea until the patent ran out?

- YuunOfYork

Oh no, they definitely waited the patent out. Why waste money and help her enforce the patent when they could just wait a few years and do it for free. I imagine this wouldn't have been unheard of in those days.

- Skevast

Henietta Lacks

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.

- suckerforsucculents

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

She was super influential to early rock musicians like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and so many more.

Johnny Cash even said that she was his favorite singer and she was also one of the first to play around with heavy distortion on her electric guitar. She's called by some "The Godmother of Rock and Roll" but I guarantee you that the average person has never heard of her.

The Noisettes wrote a song inspired by her.

- eDgAR-

Cheng I Sao

Cheng I Sao/ Ching Shih was the single most successful pirate in all of history.

She led an armada of tens of thousands of sailors and 17 separate fleets of ships. She held the most important tributary in China under siege for weeks on end. In the end she managed to give the slip to a combined force of Portuguese, Chinese, and English war ships. That's after being cornered in an inlet with 2 wounded ships and no way out - except through.

After her daring escape from the siege, she recognized that her power was beginning to wane (one of her fleets turned on her, among other things) so she decided it was better to cash out while she had the leverage. She managed to negotiate for literally all of her men to be given amnesty, be allowed to join the chinese navy, to keep the stuff they had stolen, and for her to be able to keep several ships so she could run a business in the salt trade.


She then ran a gambling house and died peacefully in her sleep.

Besides being a f*cking kickass story, she has also had some lasting consequences.

Her absolute domination over the Chinese navy showed just how much the Empire had neglected that wing of the military; and the British picked up on this. It was a big part of why they were so willing to fight a naval war across the entire planet at a time when even messages would take a year and change just to make it back.

The opium wars were fought because of this, and the treaties that resulted are called by the current Chinese government as the start of "the century of shame" and are a major touchstone in the governments image of itself. They are invoked today when negotiations with the west break down as a reason that China ought not bow to outside pressure.

She is literally still shaping policy.

- Dovakiin419

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