22 Mar The Wonder Women of Education

The 19th century witnessed a radical change in the perception of women in education, a change that lead to a rise in job opportunities for women and girls across the world. The 1800’s saw women play key roles in education and it paved the way for more women to foray into various levels of the industry. Let’s have a look at some of the exemplary women who’ve contributed to education and the society as a whole.

Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952)



Maria Tecla Artemesia Montessori was an Italian physician and educator best known for her study of scientific pedagogy and the philosophy of education that bears her name: Montessori. Her educational method is in use today in some public and private schools throughout the world. These institutions are known as Montessori schools and specialize in using Maria Montessori’s methods of teaching during the early learning stages of a child.

The Montessori Approach is a system of teaching where the aim is to instill self-motivation among the children. They are encouraged to move freely through individualized instruction and physical exercises, accompanied by a special emphasis on the training of the senses and the early development of reading and writing skills.

Mary Jane McLeod Bethune (1875 – 1955)



Mary Jane McLeod Bethune was an American educator and stateswoman. She was also a philanthropist, humanitarian and civil rights activist, renowned for starting a private school for African-American students in Daytona Beach, Florida. She attracted the attention of many individuals who contributed their time and money to her project and aided the development of the academic school to a college, the Bethune-Cookman University.

She also was appointed as a national adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of, what was known as, his Black Cabinet. She was known as “The First Lady of The Struggle” because of her commitment to gain better lives for African Americans.

Helen Keller (1880 – 1968)



American educator Helen Keller overcame the adversity of being blind and deaf to become one of 20th century’s leading humanitarians. In 1915, along with renowned city planner George Kessler, she co-founded Helen Keller International to combat the causes and consequences of blindness and malnutrition. In 1920, she helped found the American Civil Liberties Union. Nearly 100 years old, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization whose mission is “to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States.”

In her life, Keller mastered various techniques of communication, including touch-lip reading, Braille, speech, typing, sign language, and finger-spelling.

Gabriela Mistral (1889 – 1957)



This was the pseudonym of Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, a Chilean poet, diplomat, educator, and feminist. She was the first Latin American to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1945 for her lyric poetry that was inspired by her vision and emotion. The poetry made her the symbol of struggle that the Latin American world underwent to reach their idealistic aspirations.

Roberta Bondar



Roberta Bondar is Canada’s first female astronaut and the first neurologist to travel into space. After more than a decade as NASA’s head of space medicine, she became a consultant and speaker in the communities of business, science, and medicine. She has received many honors including the Order of Canada, the Order of Ontario, the NASA Space Medal, over 22 honorary degrees and induction into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.

Ayesha Jalal



Ayesha Jalal is a Pakistani-American historian who serves as the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University and was the recipient of the 1998 MacArthur Fellowship.

Born in Lahore, she studied at Wellesley College before moving to Trinity College, Cambridge, where she received her doctorate in 1983. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1985, to work at the Woodrow Wilson Center and later moved to the Harvard Academy as a scholar. In 1999, she joined Tufts University as a tenured professor. A majority of her work deals with the creation of Muslim identities in modern South Asia.

Dr. Hayat Sindi



This medical scientist was the first Saudi woman to be accepted at Cambridge University in the field of biotechnology. She was also the first woman from any of the Arab States in the Persian Gulf to complete a doctoral degree in the field. As one of the first female members of the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, she is the co-founder of Diagnostics For All, an NGO that works to provide medical care in remote and impoverished areas.

According to her, “a true scientist should focus on affordable simple solutions to reach everyone in the world.” She has been appointed as a UNESCO goodwill ambassador due to her work in promoting education, specifically for girls in the Middle East.

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