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Women Who Challenged Stereotypes In History

Ladies who have been rockin’ it since way back when by challenging the stereotypes of society. These women broke rules and beat the social norm paving the way for women everywhere today. Let’s not keep focusing on where we are not but where we are going  – #WomenPower through and through.

Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431)


Image: Biography

She’s considered as a French heroine and a Roman Catholic saint. She broke a social stereotype by successfully leading the French to victory at Orleans at just the age of 17. Her later trail that resulted in being burnt at the stake at the age of 19 led her to be deemed as a martyr that shaped French history.

Queen Elizabeth I (1533 – 1603)

Elizabeth became one of England’s longest serving monarch ruling for 44 years. She is known to have united the country during a period of religious uncertainty and re-established Protestantism to be the faith of England.

She was also known to have inspired the British troops when England was threatened with potential invasion by the Spanish Armada. Elizabeth personally visited the troops at Tilbury and delivered this famous speech:

“I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and a king of England too.”

And guess what? She did this all without ever having a man by her side.

Anne Bonny (1700-1782)


Image: Anne Bonny and Mary Read (The Way Of The Pirates)

An infamous female pirate of the 1700’s that was known to be one of the most formidable pirates under the command of “Calico Jack” Rackham. She was known to dress, fight, curse and drink like the rest of her male counterparts. She was later capture along with the rest of the Rackham crew and was sentenced to death. However, her execution was postponed as a result of her being pregnant. She was sentenced to prison and her fate remains unknown until today.

Jane Austen (1775 – 1817)


Image: AustenBlog

Being on the most famous female authors of all time, her work has transcended through time and remains incredibly popular until today. The author broke the stereotype by writing at a time where female writers were not encouraged.




Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

Marie Curie was a French/Polish scientist known for her research into radioactivity. In a time where women were condemned to no education, Marie Curie took an interest in Chemistry and Biology which were subjects unconventional for women.

Living in Poland where education was limited to women, she went to pursue her studies in Paris.


Marie Curie became the first woman to receive the the Nobel Prize and also the first person to win the Nobel Prize for two separate categories.


It was rumored that she had an incredibly tough time with criticism and hostility as a result of her success in male dominated science world.

Coco Chanel (1883-1971)

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel was a revolutionary fashion designer known for her innovative style. She redefined women’s dressing in the 20th Century by adapting traditionally male clothing to suit women – shifting away from the long skirts and corset paradigm, she introduced suits and trousers for women. Breaking the gender stereotype through fashion? Yes.

Katherine Hepburn (1907 – 2003)

27th October 1941: American actress Katharine Hepburn (1907 - 2003). (Photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images)

Image: GlamAmor

An American actress known for her sassy and unapologetic attitude, she was like no other in the Hollywood scene at the time. Her beauty was one thing but her strong unabiding views on gender roles was another. Other than her acting talents, she challenged the clothing social norms by appearing on screen wearing trousers – a time where women could’ve been arrested if seen wearing trousers in public.


“I have not lived as a woman. I have lived as a man.” I’ve just done what I damn well wanted to and I made enough money to support myself, and I ain’t afraid of being alone.” – Katherine Hepburn



Margarat Thatcher (1925 – 2013)

“I don’t think there be a woman Prime Minister in my lifetime.” – Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher then became Britain’s first female Prime Minister. Known as the ‘Iron Lady’,  she may have not been entirely well-liked during her 10 years of governing with her controversial economic policies. But this lady was no doubt fierce in her beliefs and unwavering of her commitment.

Valentina Tereshkova (1937-present)



A Russian cosmonaut, Tereshkova was the first woman to to travel to space in 1963. During a time of the heated competition between the Soviet Union and the United States known as ‘The Space Race’ which escalated for “space travel supremacy”. She was sent to prove a point and heck yeah she did. 


Image: BBC

Marilyn Monroe (1926 – 1962)


Image: Biography

She needs no introduction. She became one of the most iconic film legends in history aswell as the world’s largest sex symbol, to date. She shifted the ordeals of sensuality for women everywhere. She was unapologetic and fearless of the life she led and was also as real as anyone else out there with her own insecurities and she wasn’t quiet about it either.


“Being a sex symbol is a heavy load to carry, especially when one is tired, hurt and bewildered” – Marilyn Monroe


Nisha Ayub (1979-present)

A Malaysian transgender rights activist who was jailed by the religious police at the age of 21 for dressing like woman. Her 3 months in jail in a male prison led to her facing sexual abuse by the warden and other male prisoners.

Today, Nisha is a representation and the face for a marginalized society. She recently became the first trans woman to receive the US Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award by Secretary of State, John Kerry back in March 2016.

Her courage is truly admirable as she continues breaking and fighting stereotypes by inspiring others.



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