IWD Pioneering Women

First of their kind: Truly pioneering women

Enjoy these fresh, engaging and amazing books about perseverance, courage and achievement. From controversy and tenacity, through to adversity and inspiration - these books sit firmly on your International Women's Day #PressforProgress great reads.


An Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace

- Jennifer Chiaverini

First Female Computer Programmer

New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Chiaverini illuminates the life of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace - Lord Byron’s daughter and the world's first computer progammer.

The only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the most brilliant, revered, and scandalous of the Romantic poets, Ada was destined for fame long before her birth. But her mathematician mother, estranged from Ada’s infamous and destructively passionate father, is determined to save her only child from her perilous Byron heritage. Banishing fairy tales and make-believe from the nursery, Ada’s mother provides her daughter with a rigorous education grounded in mathematics and science. Any troubling spark of imagination - or worse yet, passion or poetry-is promptly extinguished. Or so her mother believes.

When Ada is introduced into London society as a highly eligible young heiress, she at last discovers the intellectual and social circles she has craved all her life. Little does she realize how her exciting new friendship with Charles Babbage—the brilliant, charming, and occasionally curmudgeonly inventor of an extraordinary machine, the Difference Engine—will define her destiny.

Enchantress of Numbers unveils the passions, dreams, and insatiable thirst for knowledge of a largely unheralded pioneer in computing—a young woman who stepped out of her father’s shadow to achieve her own laurels and champion the new technology that would shape the future.

ISBN: 9781101985205

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A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton

- Carl Bernstein

First Female Presidential Candidate of a Major Party in the United States

The nuanced, definitive biography of one of the most controversial and widely misunderstood figures of our time: the woman running a historic campaign as the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee-Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Drawing on hundreds of interviews with colleagues and friends and with unique access to campaign records, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author Carl Bernstein has given us a book that enables us, at last, to address the questions Americans are insistently - even obsessively - asking: Who is she? What is her character? What is her political philosophy? And, what can we expect from Hillary if we elect her President of the United States?

ISBN: 9780307388551

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Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed The World

- Rachel Ignotofsky

First in the Field of Science

A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more!
- Brian Pickings

ISBN: 9781607749769

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Michelle Obama: A Life

- Peter Slevin

First Lady to the First Bi-racial President of the United States

This is the inspiring story of a modern American icon, the first comprehensive account of the life and times of Michelle Obama. With disciplined reporting and a storyteller's eye for revealing detail, Peter Slevin follows Michelle to the White House from her working-class childhood on Chicago's largely segregated South Side. He illuminates her tribulations at Princeton University and Harvard Law School during the racially charged 1980s and the dilemmas she faced in Chicago while building a high-powered career, raising a family, and helping a young community organizer named Barack Obama become president of the United States.

From the lessons she learned in Chicago to the messages she shares as one of the most recognizable women in the world, the story of this First Lady is the story of America. Michelle Obama: A Life is a fresh and compelling view of a woman of unique achievement and purpose.

ISBN: 9780307949318

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Know Your Power: A Message To America's Daughters

- Nancy Pelosi and Amy Hill Hearth

First Woman Speaker of the House

Never losing faith, we worked to redeem the promise of America, that all men and women are created equal. For our daughters and our granddaughters today we have broken the marble ceiling. For our daughters and our granddaughters now the sky is the limit.” - Nancy Pelosi, after being sworn in as Speaker of the House. When Nancy Pelosi became the first woman Speaker of the House, she made history. Now she continues to inspire women everywhere in this thought-provoking collection of wise words-her own and those of the important people who played pivotal roles in her journey. In this compelling book, she encourages mothers and grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters to never lose faith, to speak out and make their voices heard, to focus on what matters most and to follow their dreams wherever they may lead.

ISBN: 9780767929448

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The Richest Woman in America: Hetty Green in the Gilded Age

- Janet Wallach

First Female American Tycoon

No woman in the Gilded Age made as much money as Hetty Green, America's first female tycoon. A strong woman who forged her own path, she was worth at least $100 million by the end of her life in 1916-equal to about $2.5 billion today.

Green was mocked for her simple Quaker ways and her unfashionable frugality in an era of opulence and excess; the press even nicknamed her "The Witch of Wall Street." But those who knew her admired her wit and wisdom, and while financiers around her rose and fell as financial bubbles burst, she steadily amassed a fortune that supported businesses, churches, municipalities, and even the city of New York. Janet Wallach's engrossing biography reveals striking parallels between past financial crises and current recession woes, and speaks not only to history buffs but to today’s investors, who just might learn a thing or two from Hetty Green.

ISBN: 9780307474575

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My Beloved World

- Sonia Sotomayor

First Hispanic woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court

The first Hispanic and third woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor has become an instant American icon. Now, with a candor and intimacy never undertaken by a sitting Justice, she recounts her life from a Bronx housing project to the federal bench, a journey that offers an inspiring testament to her own extraordinary determination and the power of believing in oneself.

Here is the story of a precarious childhood, with an alcoholic father (who would die when she was nine) and a devoted but overburdened mother, and of the refuge a little girl took from the turmoil at home with her passionately spirited paternal grandmother. But it was when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes that the precocious Sonia recognized she must ultimately depend on herself. She would learn to give herself the insulin shots she needed to survive and soon imagined a path to a different life. With only television characters for her professional role models, and little understanding of what was involved, she determined to become a lawyer, a dream that would sustain her on an unlikely course, from valedictorian of her high school class to the highest honors at Princeton, Yale Law School, the New York County District Attorney’s office, private practice, and appointment to the Federal District Court before the age of forty. Along the way we see how she was shaped by her invaluable mentors, a failed marriage, and the modern version of extended family she has created from cherished friends and their children. Through her still-astonished eyes, America’s infinite possibilities are envisioned anew in this warm and honest book, destined to become a classic of self-invention and self-discovery.

ISBN: 9780345804839

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Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science - And The World

- Rachel Swaby

First in the Field of Science

Fifty-two inspiring and insightful profiles of history’s brightest female scientists.

In 2013, the New York Times published an obituary for Yvonne Brill. It began: "She made a mean beef stroganoff, followed her husband from job to job, and took eight years off from work to raise three children" It wasn’t until the second paragraph that readers discovered why the Times had devoted several hundred words to her life: Brill was a brilliant rocket scientist who invented a propulsion system to keep communications satellites in orbit, and had recently been awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Among the questions the obituary-and consequent outcry-prompted were, Who are the role models for today’s female scientists, and where can we find the stories that cast them in their true light?

Headstrong delivers a powerful, global, and engaging response. Covering Nobel Prize winners and major innovators, as well as lesser-known but hugely significant scientists who influence our every day, Rachel Swaby’s vibrant profiles span centuries of courageous thinkers and illustrate how each one's ideas developed, from their first moment of scientific engagement through the research and discovery for which they’re best known. This fascinating tour reveals 52 women at their best—while encouraging and inspiring a new generation of girls to put on their lab coats.

ISBN: 9780553446791

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Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History

- Kate Schatz

First in their field

Illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

Educational and inspirational, this gift-worthy New York Times bestseller from the authors of Rad American Women A-Z, is a bold, illustrated collection of 40 biographical profiles showcasing extraordinary women from across the globe.

Rad Women Worldwide tells fresh, engaging, and amazing tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well-researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. The book features an array of diverse figures from 430 BCE to 2016, spanning 31 countries around the world, from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica). An additional 250 names of international rad women are also included as a reference for readers to continue their own research.

This progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women’s history and belongs on the shelf of every school, library, and home. Together, these stories show the immense range of what women have done and can do. May we all have the courage to be rad!

ISBN: 9780399578861

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The Iron Lady: Margaret Thatcher, From Grocer’s Daughter to Prime Minister

- John Campbell

First Female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

The Iron Lady, the definitive Margaret Thatcher biography, is available just in time for the movie starring Meryl Streep as one of the most infamous figures in postwar politics.

Whether you love her or hate her, Margaret Thatcher’s impact on twentieth-century history is undeniable. From her humble, small-town upbringing to her rise to power as the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister, to her dramatic fall from grace after more than three decades of service, celebrated biographer John Campbell delves into the story of this fascinating woman’s life as no one has before. The result of more than nine years of meticulous research, The Iron Lady is the only balanced, unvarnished portrait of Margaret Thatcher, one of the most vital and controversial political figures of our time.

ISBN: 0143120875

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46 books about women who changed the world

​Enjoy important and inspirational stories about women who stood up, spoke out, struggled through and soared. Celebrate International Women's Day ​and do your bit to #PressforProgress. Access the Penguin Random House Women who changed the world Reading List and share these impressive books with those who might develop greater understanding about the importance for women's equality.​

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