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Historical ladies who are truly kick-ass role models for anyone.


The only daughter of mathematician Theon of Alexandria (c. 335–c. 405), Hypatia didn’t let her gender stop her from pursuing the traditionally male field of scholarship, and becoming a renowned mathematician, philosopher and astronomer in her own right. She was the head of the Neoplatonic school of Alexandria and the leading scholar of her time.

Murasaki Shikibu

The 10th century Japanese poet and writer was a lady-in-waiting of the Heian court and turned her observations of noble life into The Tale of Genji, which is widely considered to be the progenitor of the modern novel.

King Tamar of Georgia

A 12th century ruler of Georgia who ruled over the Georgian Golden Age. She was addressed by the same honorific reserved for kings and, during her reign, built an empire that dominated the Caucus region.

Rani Lakshmi Bai

She was a 19th century ruler of the Jhansi who had an unusual upbringing that saw her becoming proficient in martial arts, sword-fighting and riding. When she became regent of the Jhansi, she refused to cede her people to the British, mutinied and led rebel forces against British forces. After her death in combat, she became a symbol of resistance for Indian nationalists.

Gertrude Bell

The 20th century explorer, mountaineer, archaeologist and cartographer Gertrude Bell spoke seven languages, and travelled throughout Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, Arabia. By the time she was 40, she had travelled the world twice and survived for 53 hours on an unclimbed part of Finsteraarhorn, the highest peak on the Swiss Alps. Known for her geographical knowledge and widespread contacts, she played a major role in establishing the modern state of Iraq in the aftermath of World War I.