25 Women Whose Biographies I Want To Be Written Immediately
I was in my twenties before I learned that Rosa Parks wasn’t tired when she sat down, that women wrote the code to put men on the moon, that “Roe” was actually her name, that there were countries around the world who had already elected female presidents. I was 30-years-old before it really started to register that the exclusion of women’s stories from history — hell, from current reporting — wasn’t just laziness or lack of interest or an unfortunate coincidence, but by deliberate and destructive design. A lifelong lover of stories, and yet utterly oblivious to the gaping holes in my own, self-compiled, library.
As far as loving stories goes, I’m a sucker for a good biography — and for the first time in my life, I’m aware of the fact that there’s a problem with my having more biographies alone of Doors front man Jim Morrison than I do of women put together. (At the moment, my shelves hold six biographies of Morrison, two of Marilyn Monroe, one of Joan Didion, and one of Katharine Graham. What gives? I mean, certainly I’ve read more biographies than I’ve currently made shelf space for — but why are these the ones I’ve chosen to hold on to? I have no answers to these questions.)
But other than the underrepresentation of women — both on my own shelves and the shelves of history — there’s another small problem I have with biographies: very often, they are written about dead people. Now, I know, obviously there’s a reason for taking stock of a person’s life after they’ve done all they’re going to do with it. A biography written about, say, Serena Williams or Hillary Clinton would read very differently five years ago than it would today. At the same time, it’s kind of a bummer to fall into a complete obsession about someone, only to discover that their story is already done. Women, alive and young today, are doing some pretty cool things right now. And I, for one, wouldn’t mind reading about them.
So, that’s my case. These are just some — 25, to be exact — of the women whose biographies I’d love to read now. Somebody get on this, mkay?
The moment she arrived on the Senate floor with her brand new daughter in tow is just one highlight of Tammy Duckworth’s life — she’s one of only 52 women to ever serve in the United States Senate and the ONLY sitting U.S. Senator to have given birth.
Ava DuVernay's biography currently reads something like this: "first African American female to"... followed by approximately 57 of her accomplishments in film and entertainment. There's a shelf in need of a biography here.
She's photographed practically everyone (including John Lennon on the day he was assassinated.)
OK, fine, a million things have already been written about Michelle Obama already (including Becoming, Obama's book out in November.) But I want the comprehensive biography. Because let's be totally honest here: we all know she's just so much cooler than her husband — and he is already pretty cool.
Is there anyone else for whom Microsoft Word knows to spell check for the accent mark in their name? I honestly think not. I want a doorstop of a bio and I want it now.
The Women Of The U.S. Supreme Court
While there's plenty written about Sandra Day O'Connor and the ever-notorious RBG, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan should really be household names at this point as well — especially with the partisan chaos that has become the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Founders Of Black Lives Matter
Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors have made plenty of headlines, but their journey to found and sustain Black Lives Matter is one that warrants fewer hot-takes and deeper storytelling.
While she's the one usually doing the writing, I really want the inside scoop on the woman behind The Handmaid's Tale (and so much more.) I'm thinking something along the lines of The Last Love Song meets Jane Austen: The Secret Radical.
She's a writer who has already been so open about her story from government-aided single motherhood to Harry Potter immortality. I bet her sassy Tweets are only the beginning.
Another woman in politics, Nancy Pelosi has become something of a partisan caricature recently — and honestly, I think that's kind of a load of hooey. I want to know the real story.
The Women Who Organized The Women’s March
Aka: Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. Will history look on January 21, 2017 as the day that everything changed? Only time will tell.
She's just that gal who wrote the code for the Apollo space program. NBD.
Completely controversial and totally fascinating, Jennifer Doudna discovered the molecular pattern that allows scientists to alter genetic coding.
Super risky choice, I know. But I really think there could be more to Ivanka than meets the eye (or Insta.) Is she a secret force of calm (relatively speaking) behind her maniac father or a silent victim of him? Will we ever know? (I want to know.)
Being the first black actress to be nominated for three Academy Awards is only one small part of Viola Davis's fascinating life and career.
Nothing against Bill, but I've always suspected Melinda Gates is the true brains (and heart) of the operation.
Gloria Allred was such a fury-inciting name in my decidedly not-feminist upbringing, that it was only in the last year or so that I realized she's a women's rights attorney and not some sort of deranged criminal. So, maybe other folks already know all there is to know here, but I have some catching up to do.
You've heard of Elon Musk before, but do you know who actually keeps SpaceX up and running on the daily? President and COO Gwynne Shotwell, of course. She's also worth about a gazillion dollars and is ENABLING PEOPLE TO LIVE ON PLANETS OTHER THAN EARTH. All the deets please.
Could we love Meryl Streep any more than we already do? Let's find out, shall we?
She's literally the only person who can rival Beyoncé for queen of the universe. Plus, I want to know what's really behind all this "I'm definitely not running for president" business.
Deciding to become a journalist and moving to Baghdad after 9/11 isn't even the most badass thing about Arwa Damon. She's a reporter who has used her experience of witness to do good as well: founding INARA, an organization that provides medical treatment to young Syrian refugees.
Mae C. Jemison
A former Peace Corps volunteer, an American engineer, a physician, and a NASA astronaut, Mae C. Jemison also became the first African American woman to travel to space. AND she was in an episode of Star Trek.
She's just the CEO of a little operation called YouTube. No biggie. (She also worked on the first Google Doodles!)
Another young woman with her eyes set on space, Alyssa Carson has made headlines for her expressed desire to be the first teen sent to space, and/or one of the first people to travel to Mars.
Maybe you've seen a little film called Hidden Figures? (Or better yet, read the book!) Despite discrimination during her time at NASA, her calculations helped the U.S. send a man to the moon.