5 Women Who Broke Gender Stereotypes To Pursue Their Dreams

These women transformed the gender stereotypes of their time by getting involved in tasks or events that were not considered to be lady like.

Women have been fighting for equal rights for over a century. They’ve struggled against a society that is not inclusive, and is built to favor men. Nevertheless, some improvements have been achieved and nowadays, it is more common to see women in charge of big corporations.  There are renowned athletes, scientists, and writers who are constantly breaking these old gender stereotypes. 

The work is not finished and more needs to be done, especially in places where women still don’t have a voice, and where conservatism still pushes girls and teenagers to follow rigid rules


These women broke away from the gender stereotypes of their time by getting involved in tasks or events that were not considered to be lady-like. They are an example of perseverance, and perhaps, the motivation we need to continue changing this world.

 Maud Wagner

She was one of the first tattoo artists in the US. She used to work as a contortionist in a circus, and at the same time she became interested in the world of tattoos, which was limited to people who worked in carnivals. She looked for a mentor, and finally in 1904 she met Gus Wagner, a man famous for his artistic tattoos. She accepted to go out on a date with him as long as he taught her this ancient art. They got married and had a daughter, and both are recognized for the designs on their bodies. Maud’s legacy goes beyond the ink that covered her skin. She was a woman who wrote her own rules to obtain the knowledge she needed for the things she felt passionate about. She built a reputation in a world that was only catered to men. 


Annette Kellerman

Circa 1900s Modesty Laws were decreed to established outfit regulations for the beach. Special deputies called Sheriffettes took measure of the swimsuits used by women and made sure they were of an appropriate length. Anette Kellerman was a professional Australian swimmer who fought against these laws.  In 1907, in a beach of Massachusetts, she wore a sleeveless, one piece swimsuit and she was arrested for indecent exposure at Revere Beach. The shock was such that the Annette Kellerman look was legally banned in some parts of the U.S.

Ada Lovelace

The Countess of Lovelace is considered to be the first computer programmer in the history and she is the daughter of famous Romantic poet, Lord Byron. She created the first algorithm intended to be processed by a machine. She also participated in the design of the Analytical Engine, which worked by processing step sequence. Like most women of her time, her work was not taken seriously and was overlooked. It wasn’t until 1953 that her notes were discovered. In them, there was a description of a software that was capable of calculate Bernouilli numbers, which is a sequence of rational numbers that are used in many numeral theories. 


Melitta Bentz

At the beginning of XX century, coffee was bitter and grainy. Melitta grew tired of drinking coffee under these conditions, and she created the first coffee filter. Throughout her life she continued to develop new techniques to improve the shape, performance, material and production process of the company's filter systems. She became one of the first female entrepreneurs of her time by making the filters we now use to have our morning coffee. Her business acumen is to be applauded, she offered her workers Christmas bonuses, increased vacations from 6 to 15 days per year, and reduced the working week to 5 days. Her company continues to be the leader in the market.

Kathrine Switzer

Despite being discouraged by her own trainer, Katherine Switzer became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon. “No woman can finish or run a marathon”, her trainer said, because men truly believed that women couldn’t complete a 26 mile running competition.


She was about to prove them wrong, nothing would stop her, literally. She registered on the competition under the name of KV Switzer. Her teammates, her boyfriend, and even her trainer cheered her on as she ran. When she was about to finish, Jock Semple, the organizer of the marathon, tried to stop her. “Get out!” he yelled, but other men helped her finish. She became a synonym of perseverance.

Women can break gender stereotypes no matter the era they live in. All girls and teenagers need to be aware that they have the power to can change their own conditions. We only need to keep fighting for what we want. Never give up!

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