5 ways women have made the world better in the last 100 years

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Anna Ciereszynska and Jaqueline Fernandes, Journalism Undergraduates, University of Roehampton

In a world where "feminism" has become a toxic word, we might be risking losing sight of the true reason why it exists in the first place. Cathy Newman's Bloody Brilliant Women, published on October 4th, is here to celebrate incredible women who were never given the right credit for their accomplishments.
During Newman’s talk on her book at Wimbledon BookFest, she acknowledges that many literary works concerning great women in history are becoming more common. The need of recognizing female role in shaping the world as we know it now, is louder than ever.
Newman begins the talk by explaining how these "bloody brilliant women" had to be extremely determined and "a bit difficult" in order to be successful. We have selected a few of the incredible achievements fulfilled by the great women mentioned by Cathy Newman during the event, and whose determination have contributed to make the world a better place.

First software house in the UK – Dina St Johnson - In a tech world dominated by men, the first British software house was invented by a woman. Determined and obsessive, she insisted on writing in a permanent black ink pen. When she made a mistake, she would scratch out with a razor blade.

Engineering expertise during the Second World War – Beatrice Shilling - motorbike fanatic, engineer, brilliant woman. As Cathy mentioned: ‘’she should be a household name up and down the country’’. She had a strong character. When other girls were doing flowers, she was taking out parts of a motorbike. Her skills enabled her to fix a serious flaw in the spitfires during the Battle of Britain.

Journalistic coverage during the First World War – Dorothy Lawrence - a controversial character, who was desperate to be a war correspondent. In Paris, she disguised herself as a male soldier to cover stories from the front. She’s considered the first British female soldier although she never really fought.
Female representation in politics - Margaret Thatcher, first woman to be a Prime Minister. She was an unusual woman in many aspects. She wanted to have more ladies in Westminster. She encouraged women to take part in politics and promoted many of them to show that they can make it.

Commitment to campaign against sexual violence – Angelina Jolie. Even though she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she didn’t stop helping refugees in campuses in Kongo. She is continuing her campaign and trying to raise awareness about the issue. She does a lot out of the limelight and is not helping for self-promotion or to build a positive image.

Despite the enthusiasm of writing a book that empowers women, Newman claims to be less optimistic about what follows the end of her book, due to recent events (i.e. what's going on in America). Nevertheless, she believes that the inclusion of a broader variety of writers will help next generations to be more aware of these women and their achievements.