Girls Are Leaders Too

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension


Have you heard about the girl who dreamed of flying around the world? Or how about the seventeen year old who helped lead French armies against the English?  Maybe you heard of the five year old female who wanted to become a Scientist and later became the first black female Astronaut?

Amelia Earhart, Joan of Arc and Mae Jemison all had several things in common:  They were all girls, they had a great desire to do special things and they were pioneers who paved the way for females to take the lead.  Amelia Earhart climbed trees, hunted rats with small rifles and kept scrapbooks with newspaper clippings of women who made a difference in professions that were usually dominated by men.  When she was young, she saw an airplane at a flying exhibition and felt as though planes were calling her to fly.  Once she learned how to fly, she loved it!  One day she was given an opportunity to be the first female to fly over the Atlantic Ocean.  She worked hard to train and prepare because she knew it would be dangerous.  Three women had died that very year trying to fly over the Atlantic, so flying would be both scary and fun.  When Amelia returned from her trip, there was a huge parade and celebration.  Amelia felt that all women should have courage, intelligence, skill, willpower and determination.  She also believed women could do anything men could do and wanted equal rights for women. 

Joan of Arc was a special child.  She spent most of her childhood learning about religion and tending to her family’s animals in the field.  She was greatly committed to the service of God, was very good natured and always helped the poor and the sick.  At about the age of 12, she started hearing voices that she thought were coming from God.  The voices told her she must help free her country from the English rule.  By the time she was 17, she cut her hair, dressed like a soldier and helped lead French soldiers into battle. Joan of Arc convinced her Captain that she was on a mission from God.  After passing a very hard religious test, she was given troops to command and eventually led them on a miraculous victory over the English.  She was granted a noble status for doing such good work but still returned to the battlefield.  The English captured her, put her on trial and put her to death.  Jean Bréhal, eventually ruled that the original trial had been tainted by fraud, and that she was innocent.  Joan of Arc was thought to be a martyr, was canonized by the Catholic Church is now a Saint.

Despite humble beginnings, Mae Jemison wanted to reach for the stars!  Mae’s mother was a teacher and her father was a construction worker but she wanted to be an astronaut.   As a child, Mae spent a good deal of time in the library reading books.  She would read about all aspects of science, and was an honor student who was also involved in dance and theater.  She graduated from high school, earned her place at Cornell University Medical College and went on to do great works serving in the Peace Corps.  In October of 1985, she remembered her dream and decided to apply for NASA’s Astronaut Training Program.  In 1987, Mae was the first African American woman ever admitted into the space program.  She worked very hard to train and was responsible for crew related scientific experiments.  In 1992, Mae had the opportunity to fly into space on the Endeavour.  She spent 190 hours in space working on experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness.  When she returned to earth, Mae stated that all females and minority groups can contribute great things!

Did you know?  – People proposed the right for women to vote in 1848 but women did not officially have that right until 1920 through the passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Did you know?     According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, a martyr is a person who willingly suffers death as the penalty to refusing to renounce a religion; or a person who sacrifices something of great value for the sake of a principle.

Did you know?  In 1962 thirteen women passed the astronaut admissions test but NASA decided not to select any females until 1983 with the selection of Sally Ride.


Did you know there is a new “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day?”  In honor of the 10 year anniversary of “Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day,” UNC-TV and N.C. Cooperative Extension have joined forces with the PBS  series SciGirls in this national effort to serve 10,000 ten year old girls with a positive engineering experience during a ten week period with the help of ten national partners.

When is it?    The campaign launches February 24, 2011 and concludes on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2011. 

For more information about SciGirls, visit:
For more information about UNC-TV, visit:

Also, SciGirls materials will be used at the NC Math and Science Education Network Day (NC MSEN Day).  Dates will be provided later!

MSEN Day is a statewide annual competition in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)   Click here for more information about MSEN Day or the Pre-college program in NC:

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Rachel Harris Monteverdi is the Warren County Family & Consumer Sciences Agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension, a division of North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University.  The Family & Consumer Sciences department incorporates prenatal to end-of-life programs.  Priorities for North Carolina citizens include:  Family & Parenting Education; Balancing Work & Family Workshops; Academic Success; Elder Care; Active Aging; Planning for the Future; Home Ownership & Housing Issues; Conservation & Environmental Issues; Leadership; Emergency Management and more.  Call 252-257-3640, email or visit for additional information.