7 real life superwomen who changed the world

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By Chloe Lau Hong-ching, 14, St. Mary’s Canossian College

From doctors to teachers and computer programmers, these women made a lasting impact on history

By Chloe Lau Hong-ching, 14, St. Mary’s Canossian College |
Published: 
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Happy International Women’s Day! On March 8th, people around the world celebrate this day to raise awareness for women's rights and gender equality. In celebration, Young Post will take you through time to introduce seven influential women who have made the world a better place.

Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Jane Austen was an English novelist, most well-known for her six major novels. The writer’s strongest trait was how her books always reflected upon British society. One of her most famous works, Pride and Prejudice, explored women's dependence on marriage and social status. Her other novels also contained social commentary, along with vicious irony and humor. Although her works only became famous around 16 years after her death, they have lived on even today, inspiring many critical essays and literary anthologies.

Ada Lovelace (1815-1852)

This British mathematician and writer was known for her work on the Analytical Engine, a computer-like machine by Charles Babbage. Publishing the first algorithm intended for such a machine, she was one of the first computer programmers, suggesting that the computer had applications beyond mere calculating. With her high educational and social status, she was fortunate to meet famous scientists and authors, which led to her breakthrough in the computing machine. It’s thanks to her that we have such great computers.

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Florence Nightingale (1820-1910)

Florence Nightingale is one of the most influential people in modern nursing. During the Crimean War in the 1850s, she organised care for wounded soldiers, which earned her the persona “The Lady with the Lamp”. In 1860, she established the first secular nursing school in the world, which was connected to St Thomas’ Hospital in London. After that, the nurse dedicated her whole life to spreading medical knowledge and advocating for female workers. In honour of her work, International Nurses Day is celebrated on her birthday.

Anne Sullivan (1866-1936)

This name sounds unfamiliar, but when you say she was Helen Keller’s teacher, it does ring some bells, doesn’t it? This American teacher was indeed Helen Keller’s lifelong companion and instructor. Sullivan herself became partially blind after trachoma (an eye disease) at the age of five. Although she was left with the inability to read or write, she pursued an education at the Perkins School for the Blind and became Keller’s teacher when she was 20. Despite Keller's disabilities, Sullivan never gave up on her, and their ashes were even buried together. Talk about such a supportive teacher!

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Dorothy Thompson (1893-1961)

Dorothy Celene Thompson was an American journalist and radio broadcaster. Also regarded as the “First Lady of American Journalism”, she was the first American journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany (sounds bad, but it made her notable!) and was among the first few women news commentators on radio. She was fortunate enough to receive an education from a young age, and she used her knowledge to advocate for women’s suffrage. After leaving the US and relocating to Europe, Thompson started her journalism career, making many literary acquaintances and even interviewing Hilter.

Margaret Bourke-White (1904-1971)

Margaret Bourke-White was an American photographer. Best known for being the first foreign photographer permitted to take pictures of Soviet industry and the first American female war photojournalist (in WWII), she succeeded because of her skills both with people (she had to persuade them to let her take pictures) and her technique. One of her clients, Otis Steel Company, was a steel mill (black-and-white film in that era was sensitive to blue light and not the red/orange light of hot steel), but she found a way to take photos of the steel factory. Her photo of Fort Peck Dam even made the cover of the first issue of Life magazine!

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Dr Joanna Tse Yuen-Man died of SARS after volunteering to treat infected patients.
Photo: Martin Chan/SCMP

Joanna Tse (1968-2003)

Joanna Tse is certainly a name Hong Kongers know well. After graduating from the Chinese University of Hong Kong Faculty of Medicine, she started working at Tuen Mun Hospital in 1992. During the SARS epidemic in 2003, she volunteered to save infected patients, and died after contracting the disease herself, leaving Hong Kong to mourn. Although Tse died at the age of 35, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Bravery on 30 June 2003, being the only woman to receive this gold medal. Most importantly, her name lives on inside Hong Kongers’ hearts, forever remembered and admired.

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