Empowering Women In History

Empowering Women In History

By: Kylee Harris

March is Women’s History Month! It’s only appropriate that we use this month to celebrate and acknowledge powerful important women in history that without, we wouldn’t be who we are as a society today. Their struggles and strength to stand up to injustice will forever be seen and heard as some of the most important history. This month, we invite you to expand your knowledge on some of the greatest women in history. Here’s just a few to inspire you!


Annie Oakley (1860-1926):

Annie Oakley | National Women's History Museum

 Annie Oakley (she/her), was arguably THE BEST sharpshooter in her time. From Ohio, at just 8 years old, Annie made her first shot that measured up to some of the adult men in her time. In her childhood and throughout her teens, Annie regularly  hunted in order to provide food for her impoverished family. At only 5 feet tall and 15 years old, Annie  won a shooting contest against experienced marksmen Frank E. Butler who was 10 years older than Annie. Despite inaccurate historical texts, Frank was actually humbled and impressed by her skills. Frank began to spend more time with Annie, and eventually ended up marrying her. Frank, who had a male partner in his shooting shows, invited Annie alongside him as they performed. Whens Frank’s partner fell ill, Annie went on to perform her skills alongside Frank. Soon, she became the star of the show, and Frank took a backseat. Annie went on to have an extremely successful life in a profession once thought of as a “Man’s Sport”. Annie went on to pay for her mom’s mortgage with her shooting skills, and made sure to support her family as much as she could.  Annie Oakley was arguably the first female superstar in a male dominated industry, and she will never be forgotten for her bravery, skill, and dedication to changing history. 


Marsha P Johnson (1945-1992):

Netflix Buys Documentary 'The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson'

Marsha P Johnson (she/her),  was one of the most prominent figures in the gay rights movement in the 60’s and 70’s. She was an advocate for youth homelessness, those affected by HIV and AIDS, and the gay and transgender community. Assigned male at birth, Marsha grew up in an African American household in New Jersey with her 6 siblings. Her father worked in a GM assembly line, and her mother was a housekeeper. Marsha started showing interest in women’s clothing at the age of 5. When she would wear women’s clothes, she described that this reflected her sense of self, and made her feel the most authentic. She began to get bullied and harassed by other children including a violent encounter. Immediately after graduating highschool, Marsha moved to New York City with a bag of clothes and $15 in her pocket. Once she was living in NYC, Marsha lived authentically as a woman and adopted the name Marsha P Johnson. The P stood for “Pay It No Mind” which was her motto. Rights at this time for LGBTQ+ individuals were extremely minimal and limited and New York State was still in the midst of persecution of these individuals. Marsha went on to engage in the resistance at the Stonewall Inn on June 26, 1969. Police raided the bar and primarily arrested gay men. Marsha was considered on the front lines of this riot, and a pivotal woman in history who stood up for gay and trans individuals and demanded they be respected and given justice. She was an important member of the gay rights movement. The National Women’s History Museum describes “In 1970, Johnson and Rivera founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), “an organization dedicated to sheltering young transgender individuals who were shunned by their families.” The two also began STAR House, a place where transgender youth could stay and feel safe. STAR House was of personal importance to Johnson and Rivera as they had both spent much of their youth experiencing homelessness and destitution.” Marsha P Johnson fought for everyone to be seen as equals and not for their sexuality or gender. She taught people everywhere to stand up for justice, and to live as genuinely as possible. 


Kalpana Chawla (1962-2003)Dr Kalpana Chawla | KC Scholars

Kalpana Chawla (she/her), was an Indian born American NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer. She was the first Indian woman to fly to space. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997, and was a robotic arm operator as well as a mission specialist. Kalpana earned a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Punjab Engineering College, India, and moved to the United States in 1982. Two years later, she graduated with a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and went on to earn a second Master’s and a PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder. She spent a total of 31 days, 14 hours, and 54 minutes in space. While in space, she was documented saying inspiring things such as “You are just your intelligence.” Kalpana was known as a hard worker, and a woman who would fight to no end to see that she and her intellect were represented. Representing strong women in a “male dominated profession”, Kalpana continued working for NASA and defied the traditional stereotypes of a woman. She challenged those around her, and her explorative nature gave her a drive that would be written about in history books. 

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