10 Inspiring Women Born in May

Education

May 22

Actors and writers, politicians and scientists—there are no shortage of inspiring women born this month. 

Join us in celebrating these 10 amazing women born in May!

1. Audrey Hepburn

Born: 4 May, 1929
Audrey Kathleen Ruston

Audrey Hepburn came to fame as an actor, model, and dancer during Hollywood’s Golden Age, while later in life she earned recognition for her work as a humanitarian and philanthropist. She is one of only 15 people to have achieved an EGOT (winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony)—and the only person to have achieved on posthumously. She became an ambassador for UNICEF in 1989 and remained active within the organisation until her death in 1993.

2. Nellie Bly

Born: 5 May, 1864
Elizabeth Cochran Seaman

Nellie Bly is best known as a pioneer of investigative journalism. In 1887, she convinced the New York World newspaper to let her do a story on the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island. Going undercover, Nellie got herself committed in order to investigate rumours of abuse and neglect from inside the asylum. Her report, 10 Days in a Mad-House, had tremendous impact and led to reforms at the institution. Two years later, Nellie circumnavigated the globe in 72 days in emulation of Jules Verne’s Phineas Fogg.

3. Eva Perón

Born: 7 May, 1919
María Eva Duarte de Perón

Eva Perón (or Evita) was the wife of Argentine President Juan Perón (1895–1974) and First Lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952. She was an avid campaigner for worker’s rights and championed women’s suffrage in Argentina. Shortly before her death at 33, she was given the title of ‘Spiritual Leader of the Nation’.

4. Florence Nightingale

Born: 12 May, 1920
Florence, Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Florence Nightingale is widely regarded as the founder of modern nursing. She earned her reputation caring for wounded soldiers during the Crimean War, where she trained and managed nurses and worked to improve sanitary conditions. She founded the first secular nursing school in the world at St Thomas’ Hospital in London (now part of King’s College London). In 1907, Florence became the first woman to receive the Order of Merit.

5. Dorothy Hodgkin

Born: 12 May, 1910
Dorothy Mary Crowfoot

Dorothy Hodgkin won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964 for her work developing X-Ray crystallography, one of many achievements in her career. Among her most important discoveries were the atomic structures of penicillin, vitamin B12, and insulin.

6. Cate Blanchett

Born: 14 May, 1969
Catherine Elise Blanchett

Cate Blanchett began her acting career on the Australian stage and she remains devoted to the theatrical arts—she and her husband Andrew Upton served as artistic directors at the Sydney Theatre Company from 2008 to 2013. She has starred in dozens of critically acclaimed films, and has won two Academy Awards, three Golden Globes, and three BAFTAs. In 2007, Times named her as one of their 100 most influential people.

7. Adrienne Rich

Born: 16 May, 1929
Adrienne Cecile Rich

Poet, essayist and activist Adrienne Rich was one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. She was an ardent feminist and brought issues of women’s rights and lesbian rights to the forefront of poetic discourse. She lived true to her values, famously declining the National Medal of Arts in protest over cuts to funding for the National Endowment of the Arts.

8. Tina Fey

Born: 18 May, 1970
Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

Comedian, writer, actor and producer Tina Fey came to fame on the comedic powerhouse show, Saturday Night Live. Her impressive career includes projects like Mean Girls, 30 Rock, and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and her 2011 memoir Bossypants topped the New York Times Bestseller List for five weeks.

9. Queen Victoria

Born: 24 May, 1819
Alexandrina Victoria

Queen Victoria took the throne at 18 and ruled until her death in 1901—the longest reign of any monarch up until that point (and now, only surpassed by Queen Elizabeth II). Despite holding the view that women are not naturally suited to positions of leadership, Queen Victoria saw the nation through a period of dramatic change in industry, politics and science—a period which now bears her name as the Victorian era.

10. Sally Ride

Born: 26 May, 1951
Sally Kristen Ride

Sally Ride was the first female American astronaut in space, and the youngest American in space (a record she still holds). She joined NASA in 1978, and had her first trip to space in 1983. She went on to become a professor of physics and served on the committees that investigated the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters.

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