[updated] Top 100 (and then some) Women in History

About.com has a great starter list of the Top 100 Women in History. It includes names an biographies of each individual included. They are from many different segments of life (arts, politics, medicine, civil rights etc.) but even at 100, it’s not possible to include everyone who we can think of.

However…it just so happens that I’m part of a few women-centered listservs with members who have a few ideas of their own. So I give you a supplemental list of favorite women in history (some may be on the About.com list but that list appears only in groups of 10 and I didn’t cross-check and verify them all) from future historically significant women I have the good fortune to know in the present:

Victoria Woodhull

Bella Abzug

Ida B. Wells

Nellie Bly

Golda Meir

Eliza Lucas Pinckney

Mary McLeod Bethune

Grace Lee Boggs

Annie Oakley

Sojourner Truth

Mary Wollstonecraft

Abagail Adams

Germaine Greer

Zora Neal Hurston

Ella Grasso (my contribution)

Patsy Mink

Audre Lorde

bell hooks

Sonia Sanchez

Millie Jeffrey

Josephine Baker

Lucretia Mott

Joan Jett

Amelia Bloomer

Emma Goldman

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

The invisible women who fought for justice whose names we will never know because there was a man getting the credit

Eartha Kitt

Betty Wright

Virginia Woolf

Michele Bachelet

Ingrid Betancourt

Ada Lovelace

Billie Jean King

Rachel Maddow

Anne Moody

Vera Brittain

Harriet Jacobs

Delmira Agustini

Jeannette Rankin

Shirley Chisholm

Margaret Fuller

Amelia Earhart

Marie Curie

Ella Baker

Yuri Kochiyama

Aung San Suu Kyi

Jane Jacobs


And by the way, the #1 woman on the About.com list – it’s actually a very cute selection – even if I’m not sure how much I agree with it.

UPDATE: Not My Gal makes a some observations about the About.com #1 Woman in History as well as about who didn’t make the list.


Some other blogs have invited their readers to add more names too and the suggestions are great.  They also demonstrate the kind of women the women I connect with and communicate with think of when asked this question.  Yes,  there can always be a story about the status-, fame-, fortune- and SEO-ready women.  But women named by the women I know form a list of individuals who represent the qualities that we most admire and possibly aspire to.

Question of the Day

Feministe: Who’s On Your List?

Jezebel: Listicles – Lady Lists

Hattip to Not My Gal

6 thoughts on “[updated] Top 100 (and then some) Women in History

  1. Pingback: Madonna? Really? « NOT MY GAL

  2. I’m eternally grateful for your additives. The original list? Bah. It should have limited them to “pop culture icons” and then About.com could have felt good about themselves.

    Your list and the ones in the comments of the places you linked to (which I visited before coming back here to comment) are much more comprehensive and inclusive but by no means exhaustive. Still, it gives people a place to start. Well done.

  3. FWIW, more and more people are using search engines which don’t keep records, like Ixquick in the Netherlands. Even if it were possible to figure out by gender, age range, or even by *reason for a link-search, the results wouldn’t be complete or accurate.

    There are all sorts of reasons to research people. Even the definition of “popular” depends on some sort of context. It doesn’t seem to me that “context” can be adequately defined to suit, much less “popular”.

    I was in Costco the other day and there were two books which *completely horrified me. One was a thumbnail of something like 750 great artists (as if THEY were all that there had ever been); and another was 750 great writers (as if THEY were all that had ever been). It was as if the “creators” of the extremely abbreviated thumbnail biographies in these two overpriced paperbacks were whomping out “Cliff Notes” for public school term papers, for people too lazy to develop an interest in a genre of human endeavor and then limit it to their own blind-committee definition of “elephant.”

    I think your additional names are great. I hope that the site you mentioned continues to add women’s biographies, provide links and reading resource lists for more on the lives and fields of endeavor of not only the women you mentioned, but many, many more!

    Be well!

  4. Jone – thanks first of all for doing the original post and then for leaving this comment. I was aware as I note that it is SEO that determined the list for the most part and agree 100%, this is about what people search for. One of the questions I would love to know the answer to, but I suspect the search engine people are the only ones who can tell us is – who is searching on the women – i.e., Madonna? Men, women, both equally? Just for curiosity’s sake.

    Also, as a part of a few women-only listservs, one of which does have to do with tech issues in part, it’s interesting to see this and consider how we could contribute to making some of the women more prominent and well-known. You can see I keep a widget about notorious women on my sidebar – maybe something like that could come from the lists of women who aren’t in the top 100.

    Anyway – I’m not in SEO and have only a rudimentary understanding of it (which is probably why my blog doesn’t show up much on “femisphere” lists – I just write and don’t pay much attention to the other stuff – not proud of that, but only so many hours in a day!) but the About.com list definitely helps highlight the pros and cons of measuring “top” that way!

    Thanks again. I subscribe to several About.com emails and the Cleveland About.com Guide is a good friend of mine – I think you all do a great job.

  5. I agree that the ones you list are also important women of history. The “Who are the most popular women of history, on the Net?” list you’re looking at, though, is ranked by how many web searches there were for the women, over about a three-year period with data taken from different months (the link to how I came up with the list is on each page of the list). It’s about popularity — over which I don’t have a lot of control!

    So, there are some on your list that aren’t on mine that I was disappointed weren’t more popular among web searchers — like Victoria Woodhull. Because I took datapoints over several years, some newly-popular women like Rachel Maddow don’t make the final cut. Most of the women you list WERE either on the list as I published it, OR were ones that I included on my draft list for the research behind it.

    Others you list are there. Zora Neale Hurston is there, as is Annie Oakley, Sojourner Truth (she’s even higher in popularity this time of year), etc. And many more of the women you mention are documented on the About.com women’s history site — which is not just about the most popular women.

    Thus, the list you found is more a temperature-taking of which women the world currently cares more about — and judgment about who’s left off (unless it was someone I forgot to check — always possible) is about the public’s interest, not mine. Believe me, I’d rather more people cared about some of the others who didn’t make the list!

Comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s