Written by Justin Reilly (with editing by Tabitha Krier)
Throughout our storied history as a nation, women have led the fight for equality, change and humanity. We began last week with a similar occasion, as the Women’s March brought millions to the streets to fight alongside a new generation of powerful and passionate women.
I watched in awe as communities around the world unified for the sake of a single cause and was reminded of how often we fail to tell these stories. How often we disregard accomplishments or refuse to commend achievement. How often we fail to honor success at scale and in perpetuity. How often we elevate men who are less interesting, less qualified, and less dynamic for feats that our women accomplish on Mondays before their second cup of coffee.
We coin phrases like “The future is female.” The future? History tells us that the past and present already are. Just because we fail to acknowledge it, does not defeat the simple fact that innovation, in its purest form, has always been driven by women.
Here are 10 stories that we should have never stopped telling, about the women who transformed our world:
- The existence of dark matter was proven by the famed astronomer Vera Rubin.
- The Apollo Space Program was made possible by the on-flight software developed by Margaret Hamilton.
- During a secret World War Two Project, six young ENIAC Programmers developed the first all-electronic programmable computer.
- The first compiler for a computer programming language was invented by Grace Hopper, which led to the development of COBOL.
- The person responsible for Keith Jarret’s best-selling jazz & piano album is also Germany’s youngest concert promoter, Vera Brandes.
- During the American Revolution, Agent 355 risked it all as one of America’s first spies.
- The first woman of color to be ordained as an Episcopal priest was Pauli Murray.
- NASA’s Assistant Chief of Research Programs during the 1960’s was Melba Roy Mouton.
- Barriers were broken when Dr. Rakhmabai became India’s first practicing female doctor in the late 1800s.
- Before the 1940s the most effective treatment for leprosy was an injectable oil extract developed by Alice Augusta Ball.
First Round Capital tells us that startups with at least 1 female founder perform 63% better than all male teams and yet we fail time and time again to tell the right story. Diverse teams always outperform non-diverse teams. Gender equality is the catalyst for driving innovation in products, companies, and nations around the globe.
The present and all the things before and after are Female…
If you’d like to learn more about some of the wonderful work being done to elevate innovative women, check out WiTNY, MAKERS, and Black Girls Code. The stories of today’s women will make you inherently confident that our Future is in the hands of unparalleled creativity, talent, and strength.
The present and all the things before and after are Female, women working alongside men as full and equal partners. That’s how all of this works. You can’t win in the game of innovation with half of the team sitting on the sideline.
Strive to commend accomplishment, acknowledge worth and encourage achievement. Put simply, get out of their way, because our women will continue to change the world and we’re long overdue to let them.
I’ll leave you with the words of the late Vera Rubin:
“I live and work with three basic assumptions:
- There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman.
- Worldwide, half of all brains are in women.
- We all need permission to do science, but, for reasons that are deeply ingrained in history, this permission is more often given to men than to women.”
Feature Image: Carnegie Institution; Vera Rubin