Facts About Influential Women Will Surprise You

A recent video from BuzzFeed highlights a few surprising facts about influential women in American history. From Susan B. Anthony to Shirley Chisholm, there have been some badass ladies in this country’s past, who have fought hard to make women's voices heard. As the video points out, however, we still have a long way to go before women achieve parity with men in the U.S. government. Right now, women make up less than 20 percent of Congress, one third of the Supreme Court (before Antonin Scalia died), and only 12 percent of U.S. governors, despite the fact that they make up more than half of the U.S. population. Let’s take a bit of inspiration from these trailblazers:

Susanna Madora Salter was the first woman to be elected as mayor in the United States when she became mayor of Argonia, Kansas, in 1887. She was a supporter of prohibition and was part of the local temperance union. Bizarrely, a group of male opponents to prohibition put Salter on the ballot for mayor as a joke, thinking that a female temperance-supporter would surely suffer a humiliating defeat at the polls. Instead, Salter won by a two-thirds majority, becoming mayor of Argonia and serving a successful term in office.

You’re probably already be familiar with Susan B. Anthony, one of the most prominent early women’s rights activists to fight for women’s suffrage. But did you know that, in 1872, she was arrested for voting in the presidential election, in Rochester, New York? She was found guilty of illegal voting and charged a $100 fine. (She refused to pay it.) Women wouldn’t be allowed to vote legally until 14 years after Anthony died.

In 1916, Jeannette Rankin became the first woman elected to Congress, which is crazy when you consider the fact that American women wouldn’t be granted the right to vote for another four years. (By the mid-1910s, many states had granted some limited voting rights to women, but voting didn’t become a guaranteed, nationwide right for women until the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920.)

In 1968, Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman elected to Congress, and, in 1972, she simultaneously became the first black person to run for President of the United States and the first woman to seek the Democratic Party nomination for president. (A woman wouldn’t win that honor until this year, when Hillary Clinton secured the Democratic nomination). Chisholm once said,

My greatest political asset, which professional politicians fear, is my mouth, out of which come all kinds of things one shouldn't always discuss for reasons of political expediency.

How awesome is she?

Watch BuzzFeed’s full video, above, to see more inspiring and pioneering American women.

Images: Adam Cuerden/Wikimedia; YouTube (3)