Olympic Swimmer Who Swam Three Hours Pushing a Boat of Other Syrian Refugees to SafetyA dinghy, built for six but holding twenty refugees, broke down in the Aegean Sea. Mardini, her sister Sarah, and two others jumped out and swam for three hours, pushing the boat all the way to Lesbos.
The Woman Who Made Microbiology PossibleIn the 1880s, scientists were trying to isolate and culture tuberculosis bacteria. Hesse's husband Walther was running into problems until she offered a solution.
Rome's First Female MayorRaggi is the first woman to lead Rome in a history that spans almost three millennia.
Lady of the CellsRita Levi-Montalcini had to deal with patriarchal disapproval, Fascist anti-Semitism, misogyny and war before earning a Nobel Prize for discovering nerve growth factor. Says she, "If I had not been discriminated against or had not suffered persecution, I would never have received the Nobel Prize."
The Spy Who Foiled Germany's RocketsUsing her photographic memory, this WW2 spy stole some of the most vital German rocket plans, and suffered a year in concentration camps for it. She died this year.
Frau Black DeathYevdokiya Zavaliy joined World War II while underage, and eventually rose to commander of her own platoon. She and her platoon terrified the Nazis so much that they gave her the nickname Frau Black Death.
Oldest person to earn a doctoral degreeAfter being refused the opportunity to defend her doctoral thesis due to Nazi anti-Semitism, she returned to it 77 years later.
The Academic Who Overcame it AllCecile DeWitt-Morette was a pioneering mathematical physicist who worked with Albert Einstein, Irene Joliot-Curie, and Richard Feynman, and advocated for more women in the sciences.
The Oldest Female Olympic GymnastChusovitina will be competing in the 2016 summer Olympics--her seventh Olympics to date--at age 41, making her the oldest female Olympic gymnast ever.
When a soldier raped her, this woman tossed him in a well and threw rocks at him until he died.
Spy, smuggler, saboteur, partisan: this Jewish woman refused to go like a lamb to the slaughter, and fought the Nazis tooth and nail... even after the war, when she, alongside others, poisoned thousands of Nazi POWs in a revenge plot.
As a Holocaust survivor, her poetry was too dark for some, but it was perfect for death metal.
She wrote 270 Wikipedia articles in a single year -- “I had a target for doing one a day, but sometimes I get too excited and do three.”
One of the first Indian women to practice law, she fought against -- and inside of -- a system that held no room for her.
Born without arms or legs, this artist learned to write, sew, and paint with her mouth - and came to work for kings and queens.
Forced to marry a mobster, she escaped, ran for parliament and won -- while obscuring her face. But now, she's showing it freely.
Fifty years before women got the federal right to vote, this legal agent became “the terror of all rogues.”
Although her tribe was destroyed and she was forced into an unwanted marriage, this indomitable woman came to run the world's largest empire - with a woman as her companion.
This Mongol stood up to the most fearsome man in the world and in so doing, prevented a genocide.
When enemies invaded her town while her husband was on lunch break, she grabbed a nearby pestle and saved the day by achieving the high score in soldier whack-a-mole.
Possibly the most prolific female serial killer in history, a primary inspiration for Dracula, one of the most reviled women in history, and, I argue, innocent.
"Stagecoach" Mary Fields
Pistol-packing, liquor-swigging, 6'2" black postal carrier/babysitter of the Wild West.
This "most dangerous of all spies" staged daring mountaintop escapes, prison breaks, and railway bombings -- all on her trusty wooden leg, codenamed "Cuthbert."
Indomitable pirate queen who ran Morocco and ruined Portuguese trade.