Let’s see how well you know their achievements…
1. Edith Cowan was the first woman elected to Parliament in Australia back in 1921 campaigning for women’s rights throughout her career. She also co-founded the Karrakatta Club, which lobbied for the right for women to vote.
But, what note has she been memorialised on?
Edith Cowan is on the $50 note.
The current note first went into circulation in October 2018 and also includes excerpts from her maiden speech to Western Australian Parliament in the microprint.
2. Mina Wylie and Fanny Durack were rivals who burst barriers in the world of sport, going on to break many world records.
But what sport would you associate them with?
Both Wylie & Durack were among Australia's first female Olympians, travelling to Sweden for the 1912 games. Durack smashed through world records in her heats, going on to win gold in the final becoming the first female Olympic champion in swimming and first Australian female gold medallist.
3. Elisabeth Kenny is a nurse who broke boundaries in healthcare, changing the game in the treatment of polio.
In doing so she laid the foundation for the modern practice of which branch of medical care?
Elisabeth Kenny uncovered the founding principles of Physiotherapy.
Born in 1880, Elisabeth Kenny was a self-trained bush nurse. Realising that treating Polio by placing affected limbs in plaster casts was having negative affects, she developed a practice of muscle rehabilitation which was later adopted all over the world, and laid the foundations for the modern practice of Physiotherapy.
4. Australian writer and public intellectual, Germaine Greer is now seen as one of the most influential voices in the radical feminist movement.
But what was the name of her seminal book?
It's called The Female Eunuch.
Published in 1970, the book has been a subject of huge controversy in the feminist debate, but has not been out of print in 50 years, with several million copies sold worldwide.
5. Gladys Elphick was an influential Aboriginal woman, best known for founding the Council of Aboriginal Women of South Australia, which has become the Aboriginal Council of South Australia.
But what was she known as by the community?
Born in 1908 of Kaurna and Ngadjuri descent, Gladys Elphick joined the Aborigines Advancement League of South Australia in the 1940s, working hard to serve the Aboriginal community until her death in the later 1980s. She continues to be acknowledged and celebrated for her activism, and even has a park named after her in Adelaide.
6. In 2009, Jessica Watson amazed both Australians and the entire planet by being the youngest person to sail solo around the world.
How old was she when she attempted the feat?
She was 16!
Born in Gold Coast, this Australian sailor was just 16 when she set sail from Sydney, arriving back in the harbour shortly before her 17th birthday. After months at sea, Watson sailed over 19,000 nautical miles. Although it falls somewhat short of the technical stipulation of 21,600 nautical miles which are needed for a full global circumnavigation, most Australians still consider it the same achievement.
7. Susan Kiefel was appointed as the first female Chief Justice of Australia in 2017, despite having initially left school at the age of 15.
What was her job before she decided to study law?
Susan Kiefel was a secretary.
Having left school at 15, Susan Kiefel attended secretarial college before going on to work in this capacity for a number of different businesses. It was while working for a group of barristers that she decided to return to night school to finish her secondary school education - going on to work as a legal clerk and enrolling in the Barristers Admission Board course at night. Just over 10 years later, she completed her LLM in law at Cambridge University in the UK.
8. Elizabeth Blackburn is an incredible scientist who has spent her life studying genetics. In 2009 she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology in or Medicine for her work recognising the enzyme telomerase and its implications in cancer research.
She was the first Australian female laureate ever, and the first nobel laureate from which state?
She's from Tasmania!
Born to two doctors in Hobart, she had a childhood love of nature and animals which led her to study Biochemistry at the University of Melbourne. Blackburn went on to get her PHD from Cambridge University and now lives in the USA.
9. Not simply one of the best cricketers Australia has ever seen, Ellyse Perry was also on the national team for one other sport.
What was it?
She played soccer for Australia!
At the age of just 16, Perry made it onto both the Australian national cricket and soccer teams but ultimately gave up the latter to focus on cricket. She's also now an incredible advocate for women's participation and achievement in the world of sport.
10. Julia Gillard was Australia’s first (and currently only) former female Prime Minister. In October 2012, she gave an iconic speech in Parliament which more recently went viral on TikTok in 2020.
What is its most famous line?
“I will not be lectured about misogyny and sexism by this man.”
With the comments aimed at Tony Abbot, this speech now has over 3.5 million views on Youtube and counting. Gillard was reportedly complimented on her words by both Barack Obama and Angela Merkel. You can watch it here.