GRACE O'MALLEY

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Grace O’Malley (Grainne Ní Mháille).

Though commonly known as “The Pirate Queen,” Grace was, in fact, the daughter of the Eoghan Ní Mháille, the ruling Lord of the O’Malley dynasty that controlled part of southwest County Mayo. Though she had a living brother, Grace assumed her father’s place as the lord of the clan.

She married Donal O’Flaherty in 1546 and had three children. After taking a castle in Lough Corrib from the rival clan the Joyces, they retaliated by killing Donal while he was on a hunting trip.

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ANNE LEIBOVITZ

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Annie Leibovitz.

Born into a military family, Annie first dabbled in photography in the Philippines, where her father was stationed during the Vietnam War. She headed to the San Francisco Art Institute, where she majored in painting, but she became so taken with photography after one workshop that she changed her major.

She was hired by the fledgling magazine Rolling Stone in 1970, and over the next decade put the publication on the map with her stunning portraits of the biggest names in music.

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AMELIA BLOOMER

From amazing women in history.com 

  By Keri Engel

Amelia Bloomer was born Amelia Jenks in 1818 to a middle-class family in New York. After graduating school she worked as a teacher for a short time before gaining employment as a live-in tutor and governess for a wealthy family. It was at this job that she met Dexter Bloomer, a local attorney she fell in love with and soon married at the age of 22.

Soon after, she started her own newspaper, The Lily, to write about her views on the subject.  She believed that writing was the best way for women to campaign for suffrage and other rights.

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TILLIE LEWIS

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Tillie Lewis.

Born to Jewish immigrants in Brooklyn in 1896, Tillie worked as a Ziegield Follies girl as a teenager before marrying Louis Weisburg in 1916. Louis owned a wholesale grocery company that imported tomatoes and other produce from Italy. Tillie became convinced that those same tomatoes could be grown domestically, but her husband and other agriculture experts told her she was crazy. Tillie divorced Louis and up and moved to Italy.

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THEODORA

Theodora by Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Theodora, Empress of the Byzantine Empire from 527-548 C.E.

Born to a bear tamer, Theodora became an actress in her early teens, which was then a profession closely associated with sex work. When she caught the eye of the heir to the throne, Justinian, he pled with his uncle, the Emperor to repeal the law stating anyone of his rank could not marry an actress. He relented, and they were wed.

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NZINGA MBANDE

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Nzinga Mbande.

Born to the ngola (king) of Ndongo and Matamba in 1583, she was sent into exile when her father was overthrown. As the Portuguese forces pressed farther into the region in their quest to dominate the slave trade, they mistook ngola to be the name of the country - the region is still called Angola to this day.

Nzinga’s brother, Mbandi, successfully recovered rule of the kingdom, but he was almost immediately thrust into war with the invading Portuguese forces. After losing several battles, he sent his sister to negotiate for a treaty.

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MAGGIE LENA WALKER

Maggie Lena Walker by Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Maggie Lena Walker.

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1864, her mother was a newly freed slave, while her father was an Irish journalist. Her father left before she was born. Her mother supported the family as a laundress, while Maggie pursued her education through Richmond public schools. She joined her graduating classmates in 1883 in their peaceful protest over the city’s refusal to allow the use of public buildings for their commencement ceremonies. They were unsuccessful. 

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BUFFALO CALF ROAD

By Rosemary Agonito for AMAZINGWOMENHISTORY.com

The remarkable story of a young Cheyenne warrior woman in her early twenties, Buffalo Calf Road, spans a period of 3 years from 1876 until her death in 1879. During this time the Cheyenne were caught in the westward expansion of pioneers, miners and the army, all determined to colonize the land on the great plains occupied by native peoples. The Cheyenne and other native tribes endured attacks, massacres and forced removals to reservations.

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JACINTA ARDERN

by Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Jacinda Ardern.



Born in 1980, Jacinda was raised Mormon before renouncing her religion in 2005 due to their lack of support for gay rights. She was introduced to politics by her aunt, a veteran campaigner for the Labour Party. She became a senior leader of Young Labour at 17, and she was elected as a Member of the New Zealand Parliament in 2008.

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MARIA GLENN

By Naomi Clifford from amazingwomeninhistory.com


Maria Glenn was a shy young woman living in Regency England who endured criticism and vilification and was stoic in the face of bullying by her numerous powerful enemies.


Maria Glenn, the daughter of a barrister, was born in the West Indies in 1801. She moved to Taunton in Somerset when she was 11, lived in France for two decades as an adult and returned to England when she was in her early forties.

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MAYA LIN

by Tim Sullivan
Today’s fierce female is Maya Lin.

Born in Ohio to Chinese immigrants, Maya stunned the architect world as an undergraduate at Yale when she won the contest to design the Vietnam Memorial in Washington out of more than 1,400 entries, all made anonymously. The project had only earned her a B when she submitted it to her professor.

The decision was incredibly controversial because of the unique and modern design, but particularly because of her gender and Asianheritage. After pledging significant funding to the memorial, Ross Perot withdrew his support, referring to Maya as an “egg roll.”

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CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.COM 

by Anne Boyd Rioux 

The author Constance Fenimore Woolson ( date of birth) , who wrote five novels for adults and dozens of stories, was widely considered during her lifetime one of the most important American fiction writers of the nineteenth century.

While Woolson may not be a household name today, she is a bit of a novelty for students of American literature because of her close friendship with Henry James, who enshrined his memories of her and their friendship in some of his most famous works, The Beast in the Jungle and The Wings of the Dove.

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CAROL BURNETT

CAROL BURNETT by Tim Sullivan

Today's fierce female is Carol Burnett.

Born in 1933, both of her parents suffered from alcoholism. She was taken in by her grandmother who raised her in Hollywood. She worked as a usher before receiving an anonymous envelope addressed to her with $50 in it. That paid for her first year’s tuition at UCLA.

Carol initially set out to become a playwright, in part because her mother discouraged her from pursuing a career acting. “She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like.” When she took her first acting class as was required for the playwriting degree, she knew she could never turn her back on performing.

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NANCY PELOSI

By Tim Sullivan

Our final fierce female in the series is Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Born in Baltimore in 1940, Nancy was the youngest of seven children, and the only girl. Both her father and brother served as mayor, giving her an early introduction to politics. She married Paul Pelosi in 1963 and relocated to his hometown of San Francisco.

While raising five children, Nancy remained active in politics, becoming a member of the DNC, and a leading fundraising for California Democrats. She ran for Congress in a special election in 1987, defeating her Republican opponent handily At the time, she was one of just 27 women in the House of Representatives.

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HANNIE SCHAFT

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Hannie Schaft.

Born in Haarlem, the Netherlands, in 1920, she studied law at the University of Amsterdam. After the German invasion, she joined 80% of her peers in refusing to sign a document pledging support of the invading forces. They were all expelled from school.

Hannie became actively involved with the resistance, first by stealing IDs to give to her Jewish friends, and later leading more outwardly subversive acts. She started running operations targeting Nazi officers, seducing them, gaining their trust, and then assassinating them.

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MARY TREAT

By Miranda Garno Nesler

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.com

Mary Treat (1830-1923) was a prolific scientific writer who earned a reputation as “the world’s most famous and industrious woman naturalist” at a time when few women were professionally engaged in biology.

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JULIA CHASE-BRAND

By Danika Kimball

From AMAZINGWOMENINHISTORY.com

When Julia Chase-Brand was growing up, women didn’t run. Born in 1945 in Groton, Connecticut, Chase recalls being surrounded by four active brothers, in a time where girls couldn’t run, play soccer, and if they were to play basketball, it was at the half court line. Inspired by local distance runner John J. Kelley, Chase started her running career at an early age.

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MARY PICKFORD

By Tim Sullivan

Today’s fierce female is Mary Pickford.

Born Gladys Smith in 1892, she began her career as a child actor and performer on the Vaudeville circuit. She won her first Broadway role at age fifteen, but the producer stipulated that she needed to change her name to the more mellifluous Mary Pickford. She caught the eye of D.W. Griffith, who hired her for his new silent film production company Biograph. She appeared in a staggering 51 films in 1909 alone.

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MARGARET HAMILTON

Margaret Hamilton graduated from Earlham College in  1958 with a bachelors degree in mathematics and a minor in philosophy. After working teaching high school math and French, supporting he husband as he completed his undergraduate degree, Hamilton took a software development job at MIT in 1960, at the age of 24. During her first year at MIT, the lab she worked in began developing the guidance and navigation system for NASA’s Apollo 11. 

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