Five Inspirational Women We Should Be Talking About To Students

Students need role models; they need someone to aspire to, to look up to, to make them think I could do that. Despite great strides in sexual equality, all too often these role models are male – after all, women have centuries of inequality to fight against. Here are five inspirational women who can shine a light for both boys and girls.



Approx. 30-61 AD

Way back in the mists of time, when Britain was still divided up into tribes, Boudicca was the wife of a prominent tribal leader. The Britons were oppressed by the occupying Romans, but when Boudicca’s husband died, she decided enough was enough. She united the tribes in war against the Romans, winning battles and decimating the Roman presence. However, she was finally defeated and died of her wounds. Her legacy, as a leader, warrior, and defender of her country, lives on.


Marie Curie


“We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

Born in Poland and educated in France, Marie Curie was a Nobel Prize-winning scientist who fought against sexual discrimination to become a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. She was the first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize. During the First World War, she pushed for the use of her X-ray machines in war hospitals, to locate shrapnel in wounds.


Malala Yousafzai


“Why is it that countries which we call strong are so powerful in creating wars but are so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy but giving books is so hard? Why is it, why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so hard?”

Born in Mingora, Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai was the daughter of a family who ran a chain of schools. Her area was occupied by the Taliban, and she became a prominent underground voice against them, writing a blog under a pseudonym and appearing in a documentary. She was coming home on a school bus in 2012 when a Taliban gunman shot her and two other girls, as punishment for her activism. She was transferred to a hospital in Birmingham, made a full recovery, and is now studying at Oxford University. She continues to campaign for human rights – particularly those of women and girls – and she has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


Frida Kahlo


“Nothing is absolute. Everything changes, everything moves, everything revolves, everything flies and goes away.”

Disabled by polio as a child, and then the victim of a terrible road accident when she was eighteen, Kahlo experienced many setbacks. But she had a passion for her native Mexico which transcended her physical disabilities: she painted hundreds of paintings inspired by her identity and the culture of her country. Although she was not recognised for her work until her later life, she is now considered to be one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.


Phillis Wheatley


“Imagination! who can sing thy force?

Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?”

Born in West Africa, Phillis Wheatley was transported to America and sold as a slave when she was just a young girl. The family who bought her in Boston taught her to read and write, and she received a wide education. She began to take an interest in poetry, and when Nathaniel Wheatley travelled to London, she accompanied him and got her book of poetry published there, becoming the first published African-American female poet.

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