6 Inspiring Women to Break the Mould
How would you feel if a female plumber came over to fix your leaking pipe?
Society says that women aren’t ‘supposed’ to do things that push the boundaries of what it means to be female.
But that doesn’t mean they shan’t – or can’t.
Sometimes, individuals break the mould – and inspire many more to follow, changing the status quo.
Here are 6 cases, where women have transcended beyond the limitations of ‘stereotype’ and showed the world that there is always space for one more.
1. Mehvish Mushtaq: The Unlikely App Developer
Picture Credit:The Hindu
Being a woman in a male dominant app development world wasn’t all that was against Mehvish Mushtaq. She is also from Kashmir; the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent.
At the ripe age of 23, she became the first woman from Kashmir to design an App – and a hugely successful one at that. The press caught wind of her story, and she has become something of a celebrity in her home town.
Mushtaqu did not have the luxury of studying at some elite college, like many of the industries high flyers, but that did not stop her from developing her app, which she called ‘Dial Kashmir’ - the digital directory. When you consider that her local region didn’t even have The Yellow Pages (let alone an online equivalent) it puts her disadvantage into perspective.
How does a young woman from a small town in India achieve such heights?
Well it wasn’t without an initial setback, having completed Presentation Convert School, she went in for the All India Engineering Entrance Examination – but failed it. Not the woman to be deterred, she joined the SSM College of Engineering and Technology at Pattan. She broke free from the confines of culture and gender – and the rest is history.
2. Ellen Swallow Richards: The Woman in Science
“Three things happen when women are in the lab, you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them, they cry.”
These are comments from the ‘renowned’ biochemist and Nobel laureate Tim Hunt. Unfortunately these aren’t comments from the ‘50’s, but were said as recently as 2015. He went on to conclude; woman are “disruptive to the science.”
If the industry can be like that now, what would have been like back in 1800’s when Ellen Swallow Richards was making her way in science? She was the first ever woman to earn a chemistry degree when she graduated from Vassar College in 1870. What makes her achievement even more remarkable, is that it was at a time when women were often barred from higher education, let alone sciences.
Once she earned herself a doctorate degree at MIT, she was blocked; being told there was “no precedent” for women to pursue graduate work. But that wasn’t going to stop her. She volunteered as a teacher at MIT and set up a women’s only lab in 1876, which provided much needed opportunities for women in science.
She went on to be co-found AAUW – an women’s empowerment initiative that is still going strong today. A true pioneer.
3. Wojdan Shahrkan: Saudi’s First Female Olympian
In Saudi Arabia, women often need male permission to leave the house. How about to travel to London to compete at the 2012 Olympics?
Wojdan Shahrkan had the odds stacked up against her, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dream to become the first Saudi female Olympian. The fact that her fight lasted one minute is beside the point, her journey started long before.
The match wasn’t even broadcasted in her home town as it was deemed inappropriate for a woman to fight in front of men such as the judges and referees. The fact she managed to get herself into a position to compete is highly significant, especially when you consider women are still banned from driving in Saudi.
4. Rose Heilbron QC: Britian’s First Female Judge
Picture Credit:Women to look up to
In the 1950’s Rose Heilbron was very, very famous. The papers were all over her; hair style, outfit and even dress length.
Simply put, she became Britain’s first female judge in 1957. She was an inspiration to a crowd of housewives and school girls, allowing them to dream bigger and see what’s achievable, even in those times. The Daily Herald reported that her presence would bring “the most exciting quarter sessions Burnley has ever known.”
It was her humble roots that really resonated with the public, with the family hotel in Liverpool, run by her father, struggling to stay afloat. Her Scouse twang sat well with the public and the way she revolutionised the industry will be remembered forever.
5. Jessica Ennis-Hill: The Golden Girl
Picture Credit:Getty Images
Jessica Ennis-Hill is Britain’s golden girl and for good reason.
Public expectations of her went through the roof when she was the face of the London 2012 Olympics. Despite the pressure, Ennis-Hill won Gold, becoming the British national record holder for the heptathlon and a three-time world champion.
Jess is the girl that made getting sweaty cool. She’s crossed lines both on and off the track to bring women to the forefront of a traditionally male dominated space.
Even in the face of serious injury, sexist comments and rape-threats, Ennis-Hill gets back up time and time again to demonstrate sheer determination. This has inspired women everywhere, empowered young girls to get active, and set the foundation for historic female sponsorship deals, such as #thisgirlcan.
Above all, Jess is human. She’s real, she’s relatable, she’s a Mum, and she has struggles like the rest of us: “It’s hard when you feel down and you think, ‘Why is the world doing this to me?’ But you have to pick yourself up again. That’s what makes you a better athlete.”
6. Margaret Thatcher: The Iron Lady
To finish, how could we forgot the Iron Lady – the first ever British Prime Minister, at a time when attitudes towards women weren’t at the standards of today.
The stealy woman from Lincolnshire was the longest standing British Prime Minister of the 20thCentury, guiding Britain through troubled times where the wealth gap was writhe.
Her cut-throat approach is owed to her modest upbringing; the daughter of a grocer and a local alderman she lived in a cramped apartment above her father’s corner store which lacked running water, central heating and an indoor toilet.
This did not stop her from focusing on her studies, and attending Oxford university in in 1947 gaining a degree in chemistry. She utilised her skills to help develop soft ice cream – before perusing her real passion: politics.
She gave birth to twins at university, but still won a seat in parliament in 1959, after two failures. Despite telling Finchley Press in 1970 “there will not be a woman prime minister in my lifetime,” she broke the mould to become one of Britain’s most iconic leaders.