Well Behaved Women Seldom Make History

It is said that 'Well behaved women seldom make history'. This is commonly taken to mean that in order for a woman to make an impact she has to make noise, she has to rebel against the norm, she has to misbehave. Yet when Laurel Thatcher Ulrich first coined the phrase in 1976 this was not the meaning she had in mind. Well behaved women are important, but they are seldom remembered. Women have been ignored by historian for centuries, dismissed by many men as incapable of great achievement; forgotten. However, since the 1960 this has begun to change as more research into women's history is conducted - fuelled by a rise in feminist attitudes.

From top left to bottom right: Sarojini Naidu, Queen Elizabeth I, Cleopatra, Miriam Makeba, Anna May Wong, Dr Rachel Levine

The absence of women from the records is rarely the fault of women themselves, nor is it the fault of any single group of men. It is the consequence of patriarchal cultures which so often perceived women as inferior and insignificant in comparison to men. Many women across many cultures were barred from entering public life or careers - something which has been changing for the last couple hundred years, but still has a distance to go. However, just because women were not recorded does not mean they were not present. The issue is that many historical records were written by men - many of whom simply disregareded women and saw them as unimportant. Even in the 20th century the presence of female influence has been understated. But denying the presence of women, or failing to discuss it, not only prevents appropriate recognition being given to the achievements of women, it also fuels views that women have failed to achieve anything at all. If society fails to learn about female scientists then how can we expect children to see science as something which a woman can do - the same applies to politics, war, activism and so much more. Our children never fail to imitate the actions of those around them - so we must surround them with greater awareness of female achievements.

From left to right: Rosalind Franklin, Hedy Lamarr, Harriet Ann Jacobs

Women can no longer be ignored, dismissed or forgotten. This blog seeks to redress the historical silence surrounding women. Throughout history there have always been women who defied the expectations of their gender. Women who have forged their way into male dominated fields. It is easy to assume that women have only recently begun fighting for equality, but this is not true. This blog features women from all walks of life, from all time periods, from all continents with one thing in common - they refused to be limited by the contemporary expectations surrounding their gender.

These women have succeeded in all fields. They are Queens, politicians, actors, artists, writers, scientists, soldiers, activists, engineers, freedom fighters and more. These women have all had their impact - for better or for worse. Some of them are controversial, others are simply examples of bigger issues. There is more to women's history than witches and docile Queens. I seek to explore the unknown. Some names are more familiar than others - no blog on women's history is complete without Florence Nightingale or Queen Victoria or Mother Teresa. But the list of women who have affected the world is so much longer. And this is where it begins.