Naming your daughter after your own fierce grandma or your favorite famous female is a way to let her know from Day One you believe in her. She can be anything she wants to be: an astronaut, an activist, an artist and a warrior, just like the following 16 women who have made women’s history. Read on for next-level baby name inspiration!

Wilma Rudolph: Wilma Rudolph had polio, scarlet fever and pneumonia as a child which left doctors doubting she’d ever walk again. But Wilma didn’t agree: at 16 she competed at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne. She won the bronze medal in the 4x100-meter relay. In 1960 she competed in Rome and won gold medals and set world records in the 100, 200 and 4x100-meter relay. Never let them get you down!

Nichelle Nichols: Born Grace Dell Nichols (also an awesome name) Nichelle’s impressive career includes singing with Duke Ellington and playing Lt. Uhura on the Star Trek television series and movies. What you might not know is that she ran a company called Women in Motion which worked with NASA to recruit minority and female astronauts, scientists and personnel for NASA. She has served on the board for the National Space Society since the 1980s and has been a tireless advocate for exploring the final frontier.

Rashida Tlaib: Rashida is a woman of first. She is the first Muslim woman ever to serve in Michigan legislature and one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress (along with Ilhan Omar).


Hedy Lamarr: Not only was Hedy a famous Hollywood actress, she is also credited with inventing Wi-Fi. Here groundbreaking work on spread spectrum technology is what modern day digital communications are based on.

Margaret Atwood: She might be best known for her feminist science fiction novel, The Handmaid’s Tale but that’s only one of her 16 novels! She is a prolific author whose stories address gender, identity, religion and myth all at once. She is the winner of numerous awards in both poetry and fiction.

Sharice Davids: In 2018, Sharice Davids was elected to Congress, becoming one the first Native American women to be elected to Congress (the other is Deb Haaland also elected in 2018) as well as the first openly gay person elected to Congress from Kansas and the first LGBT Native American elected to Congress. A member o

Gwendolyn Brooks: One of the most highly celebrated poets of all time, Gwendolyn was the first Black author ever to win the Pulitzer Prize. She wrote 20 books of poetry, two autobiographies and one novel. She was also Poet Laureate to the State of Illinois and the the poetry consultant to the Library of Congress.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Born Joan Ruth Bader, she is an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States, the second female justice in history. A consummate bada$*, she is a trailblazer in fighting against gender discrimination, and an outspoken advocate for (and defender of) women’s rights.

Deb Haaland: In 2018, Debra Anne Haaland became one of the first Native American woman elected to Congress (along with Sharice Davids). She is the former chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and a member of the Laguna Pueblo people. She is also an attorney and 35th generation New Mexican.

Amelia Earhart: The first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She also set an altitude record and became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific from Honolulu, HI.

Sally Ride: The first American woman to fly in space, on June 18 1983. She flew again in 1984. She was also a professor at UC San Diego, invented the EarthKAM project which helps kids take pictures of Earth from the International Space Staion and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003.

Ruby Bridges: In 1960 Ruby was just six-years-old when she made history as the first African-American child to attend a desegregated school. She went on to live a life of activism and later formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation to fight racism and promote tolerance, respect and appreciation of differences.

Frida Kahlo: Mexican-born Kahlo was just 18 with hopes of becoming a doctor when she suffered a serious injury from a traffic accident. Confined to her bed, she began painting. Her works remain today as some of the most impressive, iconic and recognizable art in history.

Maya Angelou: Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, her brother nicknamed her Maya. After a difficult childhood she found release in her writing. She was the first AfricanAmerican cable car operator in San Francisco, was also a waitress for many years and later became an actress, singer, dancer, activist, professor and (most famously) a poet and writer. She was awarded numerous prestigious awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Susan B. Anthony: A suffragist, anti-slavery advocate and early champion for women’s rights, she fought for the right for women to vote. In fact, she and her three sisters voted in the 1872 presidential election even though it was illegal. She was arrested, went to trial, and ordered to pay a fine which she refused. The Nineteenth Amendment (the 1920 law that finally gave women the right to vote) is named after her (Susan B. Anthony Amendment).

photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anna May Wong: The first Chinese-American movie star and the first Asian-American actress to gain international fame, she used this fame to fight against the rampant racism in Hollywood, especially the offensive depiction of Chinese characters, usually played by white actors. 

Jane Goodall: Possibly the most famous primatologist in the entire world, Goodall’s work with chimpanzees changed the way we view them and our relationship with (and part in the destruction of) their habitat.

Sonia Sotomayor: The first Latina Supreme Court Justice in U.S. History, she holds multiple degrees and was also a U.S. District Court Judge as well as a U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals Judge.

Queen Liliuokalani: The last reigning monarch over the Kingdom of Hawaii, she was imprisoned in her own home in Honolulu after the rebellion attempt to overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy by U.S. soldiers and her attempts to refuse the annexation of Hawaii to the United States. Her birth name was Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha.

photo: Library of Congress

Zora Neale Hurston: One of the most influential and important writers in the twentieth-century, her unique voice and style that integrated her knowledge of folklore with her prose is required reading for anyone who wants to experience the true voice of African-American literature.

Lella Lombardi: She was Italian and she was a Formula One race car driver. If that’s not reason enough to worship her, she raced in 17 Grands Prix, and was the only female driver in history to finish in the top six.

Wú Méi: One of the few known martial arts warriors from the 17th century, Mei survived an attack at a Shaolin Monestary, fought in numerous invasions and is still known today as a founding mother of martial arts styles including Dragon Style.

photo: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Dolores Huerta: Huerta worked side-by-side with famous labor and farm worker advocate Cesar Chavez to help protect agricultural and immigrant worker’s rights. She founded the Agricultural Workers Association and co-founded United Farm Workers, and continues to fight for the rights of Latinos and women.

Durga Banerjee: The first woman pilot in India, she became an official pilot for Indian Airlines in 1966. She was also the first woman ever to fly the Tornado A-200.

Rosa Parks: AKA the Mother of the Freedom Movement and the First Lady of Civil Rights, Rosa Parks made history when she refused to give up her seat in the “colored” section of the bus to a white passenger. She was arrested for civil disobedience and fought it in court. This was just the beginning of many years of activism and work toward equal rights.

—Amber Guetebier


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Feature photo: Sara Pflug via Burst