Female Genius

For your pedagogical or personal pleasure — a list of female geniuses.

This list was generated by facebook friends in response to the question – “who do you consider a female genius?”

The idea was to foreground the gendered use of the term “genius” on the assumption that the term is ordinarily not socially constructed to include women.

A very interesting list came about nonetheless, and we would like to share.

Please feel free to add you additions in the comments!

And without further ado…




Mary Anderson

CoCo Chanel

Amelia Earhart

Edith Flanigen

Helen Free

Erna Schneider Hoover

Stephanie Louise Kwolek

Mary Walton

Oprah Winfrey



Alice Coltrane

Ella Fitzgerald

Umm Kaltoum

Nina Simone

Mary Lou Williams


Mystics/Mystical Poets/Religious Figures

Rabia al Adiwiyya

Fatima Qurrat-al-Ayn

Mother Theresa



Hannah Arendt

Judith Butler

Simone De Beauvoir

Silvia Federicci


Grace Humiston

Julia Kristeva

Margaret Mead

Maria Montessori

Ayn Rand

Gayatri Spivak

Mary Wollstonecraft

Political Figures/Advocates/Radicals


Elizabeth I

Indira Ghandi

Emma Goldmann

Hellen Keller

Khadija bint Khuwailed

Aun Sang Su Kyi

Rosa Luxemburg

Golda Mier

Elenor Roosevelt



Patricia Billings

Rachel Fuller Brown

Marie Curie

Gertrude Belle Elion

Rosalind Franklin

Elizabeth Lee Hazen

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin

Grace Hopper

Ada Lovelace

Barbara McClintock

Emmy Noether

Ann Tsukamoto

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow


Visual Artists (painting, film)

Louise Bourgeois

Claire Denis

Eva Hesse

Frida Khalo

Writers (Poetry and Prose)

Maya Angelou

Willa Cather

Emily Dickensen

Assia Djebar

Nawal El Sa’daawi

Forugh Farrokhzad

bell hooks

Ursula K LeGuin

Toni Morrison



Gertrude Stein

Wisława Szymborska

Alice Walker

Virgina Woolf

May Ziade





6 thoughts on “Female Genius

  • January 28, 2014 at 6:36 am

    Love this! I suggest Zaha Hadid, Bjork, Marina Abramovic Edwidge Danticant, Malala Yousafzai, Meryl Streep…

  • January 28, 2014 at 7:24 am

    More suggestions: Hildegard of Bingen, George Eliot and George Sand

    • January 20, 2017 at 12:06 am

      Alaaazkam-information found, problem solved, thanks!

  • January 19, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Thknas for taking the time to post. It’s lifted the level of debate

  • April 8, 2017 at 11:27 am

    A very enjoyable and insightful report. BTW. I also worry about blinding the critters and I agonise over whether or not to delete a photo as if it was a small life that I’m expunging.

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