Happy International Women’s Day! Women can do anything. Here’s just a small selection of women who overcame adversity and challenged society to prosper in their careers, leaving behind stories that will always remain inspiring.

Frida Kahlo

Artist, (1907-1954)


Due to contracting polio and dealing with the consequences of a car accident, Frida Kahlo found herself bed bound at times, and underwent numerous invasive surgeries to resolve the injuries. Kahlo used these parts of her life to create art that focussed on her illness and the nature of mortality, putting these once unacknowledged themes of women, illness and disability at the forefront of the artistic canon, and documenting her strength and resilience in the face of life changing events.

JK Rowling

Author, (1965)


JK Rowling’s career denotes a classic success story. Starting out as a single mother on benefits, Rowling was in the process of writing Harry Potter. She cites that she initially felt self-conscious with regards to the stigma that single mothers faced. Struggling to get her big break, Rowling experienced copious amounts of rejection whilst searching for a publisher, but, with determination, she eventually found a publisher and became an overnight success. Rowling is arguably one of the bestselling authors of our time, and is a woman, conquering a profession that has been largely dominated by men. Her story highlights that rejection can be overcome, and women can achieve anything if they put their mind to it.

Katherine Johnson

NASA mathematician, (1918-2020)


Johnson showed her flair for mathematics at a particularly young age, racing ahead of her peers in the subject. At 18, Johnson went to further study mathematics at West Virginia State College. In 1952, Johnson secured a role at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, and in 1958, NACA was overtaken by NASA. During her time at NASA, Johnson’s role was to calculate the trajectories of flights, ensuring the success of each mission. Working in this role for three decades, Johnson was responsible for the success of many significant space missions, and is significantly the first African-American woman to work as a NASA scientist.

Bessie Coleman

Aviatrix, (1892-1926)


Nicknamed ‘Brave Bessie’ and ‘Queen Bess’, Bessie Coleman was determined to become a pilot. Coleman was spurred on to pursue this career choice after hearing stories from her brothers about their service in the military, and being told by her brother John who served in France, “I know something that French women do that you’ll never do – fly! After hearing this, Coleman was adamant that she would achieve her goal, and wanted to earn a pilots license, but found that this was difficult to achieve in America, where African Americans and women were not allowed into flying schools. Despite discrimination limiting her choices, Coleman refused to give up, and headed to France in 1919 to earn a license at the Caudron School of Aviation. Two years later, Coleman became the first African American and the first woman to earn a pilot’s license and complete a public flight, showing that women can achieve their goals and, with determination, push through the confines set by society.

Katie Bouman

Computer Scientist, (1989)


It’s likely that you seen the first ever image of the black hole that went viral last year, but did you know who was behind it? At 29 years old, Katie Bouman headed the formation of an algorithm that resulted in the visualisation of an outer space phenomenon that had once remained a mystery. Bouman’s groundbreaking contribution demonstrates just how capable women are of impacting the world and making discoveries that will change our outlook forever.

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