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Women Who Laugh In The Face Of Gender Stereotypes

03/06/2015 12:09 pm ET | Updated May 06, 2015
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WorkerAnts.com is dedicating this week to raising awareness for women's issues in honor of International Women's Day on Sunday, March 8, 2015. The United Nations has chosen this year's theme to be "Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!"

One issue that people face around the world is gender stereotyping. Overly-simplistic generalizations based on gender cause us to misunderstand and devalue women and men. Stereotypes lead to discrimination, arbitrary limitations on behavior and choice and cause suffering for those who do not fit the stereotype (which is most of us). If we accept gender stereotypes, we treat people as two-dimensional caricatures of women and men and not individuals with unique personalities, skills and dreams.

Breaking these gender myths is a great way to empower women and share a bit of women's history as well. The staff here at WorkerAnts compiled a short list of common stereotypes and matched up women who have proven them wrong.

The Stereotype1 The Women Who Laughed in its Face
Women are not as strong as men Ronda Rousey (MMA bantamweight champion, can we say 14 seconds UFC!); Marina Lurs (Estonian strongwoman); Jennie Hodgers (U.S. Civil War soldier); Yevdokiya Zavaliy (WWII Russian marine platoon commander)
Women are quieter than men and not meant to speak out Susan B. Anthony (U.S. social reformer and suffragist); Sojourner Truth (U.S abolitionist and women's rights activist); Tawakkol Karman (Yemeni journalist and human rights activist); Fatima Jinnah (Pakistani dental surgeon, writer, stateswoman and a founder of Pakistan)
Women are supposed to be submissive and do as they are told (Seriously, do we even need a list for this one?) Ani Pachen (Tibetan Buddhist nun who led an armed rebellion against China.); Harriet Tubman (U.S. abolitionist, humanitarian, Union spy, civil rights activist); Kittur Chennamma (Queen of Kittur in South India, led an armed rebellion against the British East India Company); Asmaa Mahfouz (Egyptian activist and a founder of the April 6 Youth Movement); Shirin Ebadi (Iranian lawyer and human rights activist- Nobel Laureate for pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights); Umm Ibrahim (Saudi Arabian protester and women's rights activist)
Women are not politicians Pratibha Patil (12th President of India); Aung San Suu Kyi (Chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma, political prisoner, Nobel Laureate); Shirley Chisholm (politician, first African-American woman elected to U.S. Congress, author, educator); Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (24th and current President of Liberia); Benazir Bhutto (11th Prime Minister of Pakistan); Park Geun-hye (11th and current President of South Korea)
Women are supposed to marry and have children Oprah Winfrey (media mogul, philanthropist); Coco Chanel (French fashion designer); Dr. Condoleezza Rice (Political scientist, diplomat, 66th U.S. Secretary of State); Mother Teresa (Roman Catholic religious sister, missionary, Nobel Laureate); Emily Carr (Canadian artist and writer); Dame Freya Stark (British explorer and travel writer)
Women need to be rescued and are never the hero Nancy Wake (WWII spy and resistance fighter, this link also includes 11 other WWII heroines); Zenobia (3rd-century Queen in Syria, led a revolt against the Roman Empire); Rosa Parks ("First lady of civil rights" in the U.S.); Irena Sendler (WWII Polish Underground member who smuggled approx. 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto)
Women are not as good at the hard sciences Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (experimental physicist, Wolf Prize in Physics); Barbara McClintock (cytogeneticists, Nobel Laureate); Émilie du Châtelet (18th century French mathematician, physicist, author); Sofia Kovalevskaya (19th century Russian mathematician); Shirley Ann Jackson (physicist, and the 18th president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Women are not interested in video games Sasha Hostyn (Canadian professional video game player); Kellee Santiago (video game designer, producer, co-founder of Thatgamecompany); Jade Raymond (Canadian video game executive and former Managing Director of Ubisoft Toronto); my mother (whose favorite game is currently Diablo III for PS4)

We hope you found this activity to be as entertaining and informative as we did. In fact, we found it so fun to read about these women that we would love for you to help us expand our list. There are hundreds more famous women, and probably millions of unnamed women throughout history, who have broken stereotypes surrounding women, so post a comment and let us about a woman you admire and the stereotype she had broken. Share here or on our site, WorkerAnts.com.

1 This list was compiled from around the Internet, but some of them were taken directly from the List of Gender Stereotypes by Holly Brewer as published on http://www.healthguidance.org.