Women's Achievement Quiz

Quiz in Women's History

American women have been contributing in the professional fields as well as in the nurture of family and community from before our nation was founded until today.

Test yourself on how much you know about these wonderful women!

Women and Civil Rights

Q : She is primarily remembered as a founder of the Settlement House Movement and the first American Woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

A : Jane Addams is portrayed as the selfless giver to the poor as well as a labor reformer to improve working conditions for children and women and was a founder of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). She worked for Chicago municipal suffrage and became first vice-president of the National American Women suffrage Association in 1911. Meet Jane Addams in her autobiography, Twenty Years at Hull House.

Women in Science

Q : Female physicists who opened up and developed nuclear physics, despite prejudice against women in a traditionally male field, prejudice against their races, and the horror of world wars. Unfortunately, their colleagues received Noble prizes for their works. Name the two nuclear physicists.

A : After escaping from the Nazis, Dr. Lise Meitner (1878-1968) achieved nuclear fission, her most famous discovery. Because of the war, the discovery of fission led to the development of the nuclear bomb. Dr. Meitner did not work on the bomb, and she was careful to make that known in her interview with Eleanor Roosevelt after the war. She was a pioneer in nuclear fission, but it was Otto Hahn who was awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery.

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) developed better instruments to detect radiation in support of the US' secret development of the atomic bomb, and invented a method of separating two types of electrons emitted from the nuclei of radioactive atoms. In 1956, Wu had proved that the law of parity. After Wu's experiment was duplicated and its conclusion confirmed, her collaborators, Lee and Yang won the Nobel Prize for Physics. Wu herself was overlooked. Still, her colleagues knew the value of her work; and in the following years Wu did win a number of prestigious honors, including the National Academy of Sciences' Comstock Award (1964), and the National Medal of Science (1975). In 1973, she was elected President of the American Physical Society.

Q : Almost a century ago, she noticed the environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization. In She was the first woman admitted to a scientific school and 1873, MIT awarded her a Bachelor of Science. Unfortunately, she was never awarded the doctorate she earned. She remained an assistant at MIT and began teaching science to female schoolteachers at night. In a renovated MIT garage, she opened the world's first Science Laboratory for Women, where she began her study of ecology. Name the pioneer the field of sanitary engineering.

Trashcans first appeared on streets in the mid 1890s. They were donated by the
Women's Civic Club of Philadelphia.

A : Ellen Swallow Richards, a 19th-century advocate for public sanitation and good health, is now recognized as the woman who created the fields of ecology and home economics. MIT finally recognized her with a bronze plaque, installed in 1914, in a hall of the chemistry building.


Q : People remember her as a silver screen actress, but many people may not know is that she helped the United States win World War II. Her invention became a key component of wireless data technology, from cell phones to wireless networking systems.

A : On June 10, 1941, actress Hedy Lamarr (1913-2000) and composer George Antheil received a patent for their invention of a classified communication system that was especially useful for submarines. It was based on radio frequencies changed at irregular periods that were synchronized between the transmitter and receiver. While a message was being sent, both the transmitter and the receiver would simultaneously change radio frequencies according to a special code. At each end of the transmission, identical slotted paper rolls, similar to those used on player pianos, dictated the code according to their pattern of slots. Just as a player piano holds and changes notes at different intervals to make a melody, their invention held and changed radio frequencies to make an unbreakable code. Signals could be transmitted without being detected, deciphered or jammed.

Q : An artist specializing in plaster of Paris sculptures, she invented one of the most revolutionary substances in the history of the modern construction industry: a building material that is both indestructible and fireproof. Name the inventor.

A : Patricia Billings received a patent in 1997 for a fire resistant building material called Geobond, after nearly two decades of basement experiments. When added to a mixture of gypsum and concrete, it creates an amazingly fire resistant, indestructible plaster. Because Geobond® is non-toxic as well as indestructible and fireproof, it is also the world's first workable replacement for asbestos. She also created a new product, CraftCote™ to bring the Geobond® technology to the art world. She was the recipient of the Woman Making History Award in 1998.

Q : Do you know the inventor and entrepreneur of 'Liquid Paper'?

A : Inspired by painters Bette Nesmith Graham, an executive secretary, painted over her typographical errors. She started her business, using her kitchen blender she combined paint with other chemicals to develop and refine her product, "Mistake Out." In 1975, the renamed company, Liquid Paper, Inc., grew to an employment of 200 people, and 25 million bottles of Liquid Paper were sold in 31 countries. She played a major part in the design of the company plant, which included a library, a child-care center, and a greenbelt. After Graham retired from the company, the Bette Clair McMurray Foundation (her maiden name) was established to support women's welfare and also to generate more efforts in business and arts.

Women in Medicine

Q : She graduated at the top of her class at Geneva Medical College in 1847, becoming the first woman to graduate from an American medical school. (Previously, seventeen medical schools had rejected her on the basis of her gender.) With her sister, she founded the Women's Medical College in 1868. Who is the pioneer in preventive medicine and in the promotion of antisepsis and hygiene?


According to data from the American Association of Medical Colleges, women currently comprise 45% of the students in US medical schools.

A : Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) earned a medical degree from Geneva Medical College (later Hobart and William Smith Colleges), in Geneva, New York, and later went on to set up a medical practice in New York. Her first practice was a small dispensary in the New York City tenement district. It opened in 1851. She formally opened the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, along with her sister, Emily Blackwell and Marie Zakrzewska in 1857 and became the first woman physician listed on the United Kingdom Medical Register in 1859. In 1868, Elizabeth and Emily Blackwell founded the Women's Medical College, associated with their New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, with Elizabeth as professor of hygiene and Emily as professor of obstetrics and women's diseases; it remained operation until Cornell University began to accept women medical student in 1899.

Q: She delivered over 2,000 reportedly healthy infants and performed 5,000 surgeries with the aid of "twilight sleep," an anesthetic 'cocktail' she invented to ease the pain of childbirth.

A: Bertha Van Hoosen (1863-1952) was one of the first female doctors. She graduated from the University of Michigan and opened a private practice in Chicago in 1892. She founded the American Medical Women's Association in 1915. Learn how her agricultural background inspired her to be a surgeon in her autobiography Petticoat Surgeon.

Patriotic Women

Q : In April, 1777 a 16 year old girl rode on horseback across 40 miles of dark, unmarked roads to spread the alert the British were burning the town of Danbury, Connecticut. Name this true American Hero.

A : Sybil Ludington rode her horse to alert the news of a British attack on Danbury, Connecticut where munitions and supplies for the entire region were stored. While her father, the noted New York militia officer Henry Ludington, organized the local militia, Sybil brought together the surrounding patriots to repel the British raid. Racing through the dark night over more than 40 miles of unfamiliar dirt roads, the 16-year-old girl spread the alarm to rouse the countryside against the attack. Although the Revolutionary War spawned many heroic deeds, Sybil Ludington is one of the few women recognized by historians. Sybil Ludington's courage and spirit in risking her life to warn fellow patriots on April 26, 1777, motivated the Women's Policies Committee of the NRA to establish the Women's Freedom Award in her honor.

Q : Taught by her famous brother Victorio, Lozen was a skilled reconnaissance scout and clever battle strategist, as well as a gifted medicine woman, seer and shaman. Along with Lozen, Dahteste was a trusted scout, messenger and mediator between her people and the U.S. Cavalry. Do you know the warriors' tribe?

A : The Apache , a Native American nation, teach their boys and girls the same skills, allowing the individuals to choose their own lifestyle. Girls who choose the warriors' paths are not scorned; neither are boys who choose a gentler life - they receive equal praise if they excel in their chosen direction.

Women in Law

Q: Even though she graduated third in her class at Stanford Law School in 1952, the only offer she received from a major law firm was for a secretarial position. Name the Court's 102nd justice and its first female member.

A: Sandra Day O'Connor was nominated to the Supreme Court on July 7, 1981. Justice O'Connor held the deciding vote for such controversial decisions as a constitutional right to abortion, state affirmative action, mental capacity standards for the death penalty, and school prayer. She has been a strong advocate of state autonomy and the development of the Establishment Clause jurisprudence. She was received the Women Making History Award in 1999.