While Ingeborg Rapoport may not be a household name, her story is none the less inspiring as hell. Ingeborg, a German Jew, was busy working on her PhD on diphtheria in 1937. The race laws, known as the Nuremberg laws, were enacted one year prior to her submission, and she was told by her professors at the University of Hamburg that she would receive her PhD if the race laws hadn't made it illegal. Although Ingeborg escaped Germany and fled to the United States, where she qualified as a doctor, she did have to redo all of her education again. In May 2015, Ingeborg became the oldest woman to receive a PhD. At age 102, professors from the University had her defend her thesis and gave her the PhD she rightly earned.
Although I don't necessarily agree with all of her politics, I do find her story a fascinating one and with two takeaway lessons: never give up and you're never too old to improve.
You don't have to be a fan of Lena Dunham's show Girls to recognize that she's made some serious strides within the entertainment industry. A fellow endometriosis sufferer, Dunham has written and directed her own TV series before she turned 30--but not only that, she's shaken up the way women are portrayed on TV. Instead of grimly accepting the idea that women on television must fit into a cookie cutter mold, Dunham has given the industry the middle finger by portraying women in a realistic way.
Comedienne Mindy Kaling has also shaken up the way women are portrayed on TV, by landing herself her own amazingly witty TV show as both a woman of color and someone who doesn't have the societally appropriate leading lady body type. Kaling is also quite witty and hilarious with her writing, which makes my love of her grow even stronger.
Since I'm doing my thesis on Anne Frank, I couldn't neglect to include her in this list. However, it's for a different reason than you may think. Although Anne lived through an incredibly unusual situation, Anne herself did not really do much that was inspirational during her lifetime. Instead, it has always been her legacy that carried the inspirational message. Instead, Anne represents the unfulfilled potential of a woman whose flame was burned out far too soon. Although we can never know what Anne would have done had she lived, I can bet she would have done something really cool. As such, she serves as a reminder for the potential we snuff out whenever senseless killings occur--and how much our society stands to lose.
What woman do you look up to the most?