Weird History
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16 Brilliant Women From History Who Got No Credit For Their Groundbreaking Work

Updated October 24, 2019 74.3k views16 items

If you're a woman, especially in a male-dominated field, you probably know what it feels like to be overshadowed by male colleagues, even when you're doing better work than them. All of the women on this list know what that feels like. The group is comprised of scientists, artists, writers, inventors, and humanitarians, who never got credit for their remarkable achievements, and were snubbed when sexism reared its ugly head. 

The most remarkable thing about these women is that most of them continued to do hard work in their fields, despite the lack of recognition. They're regarded as trailblazers who wouldn't let the chauvinistic world hold them back.

Let's celebrate these women for their accomplishments.

  • Lee Krasner

    Lee Krasner was the wife of Jackson Pollock, who is considered to be the leader of the Abstract Expressionist art movement. Pollock never tried to take credit for artwork that his wife created, but there's no doubt that he completely overshadowed her, even though her work was just as revolutionary and brilliant as Pollock's was.

    Krasner met Pollock when the two became founding members of American Abstract Artists in 1936. As Pollock's fame grew, the task of managing his career fell to Krasner, and her artwork took a backseat. She didn't begin to shine in her own light until after her husband's death, when the feminist movement of the '60s and '70s highlighted her work. Polluck remains a household name in the world of modern art, while Krasner's name is hardly ever recognized.

  • Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Public domain

    Emilie Schindler was the wife of the renowned humanitarian Oskar Schindler. The film Schindler's List commemorates Oskar's effort to save the lives of 1,300 Jews during World War II. The film portrayed Emilie as a supportive partner, but in reality, Emilie was just as involved in the life-saving mission as her husband was.

    Oskar Schindler was a man who owned a factory that produced war supplies and convinced the Nazis not to take away any of his Jewish employees because they were essential laborers. Schindler also purposely manufactured faulty bullets to covertly sabotage the Nazis. On one occasion Emilie Schindler intercepted a caravan of four wagons transporting 250 Jews to a death camp. She convinced the Nazis to instead let her take the Jews to her husband's factory and put them to work.

    Once Emilie had taken all the prisoners back to the factory, she nursed them back to health. Even when food was scarce and rations were restricted by the government, Emilie managed to find enough food to help the starving victims recover.

    Emilie's heroism was largely left out of the Oscar-winning film about her husband. Several years after the film was released, a journalist named Erika Rosenberg published a biography about Emilie Schindler to highlight her courageous work.

  • Elizabeth Magie

    Photo: Lucius Kwok / via Wikimedia Commons

    Charles Darrow is typically credited with inventing the board game Monopoly during the Great Depression. But a woman named Elizabeth Magie actually came up with the idea decades before Darrow did.

    Magie's version, The Landlord's Game, was far more clever (and politically progressive) than Darrow's version. Magie designed her game to have two sets of rules: The first rewarded all the players when wealth was created, and the second rewarded only the players who created monopolies and squelched their competition. Magie's goal was to teach people who played the game that the first set of rules was better.

    Darrow didn't agree with Magie's view. He stole her game, stripped it of the first set of rules, and passed the final version off as his own. Magie had sold her game to Parker Brothers and received a mere $500 for it. Charles Darrow sold his version to Parker Brothers years later, and went on to make millions. Magie died in 1948 without ever getting the credit or the money she was due for her creation.

  • In 1973, when she was still a graduate student, Candace Pert discovered the brain's opiate receptor. Pert's discovery enabled scientists to create new psychiatric drugs, and her technique is still widely used by those studying different brain receptors.

    However, the credit for Pert's discovery went to a man named Solomon H. Snyder, the head of the lab where Pert worked. After Snyder received an award for the discovery, and Pert argued that the award should have been hers, Snyder responded, "That's how the game is played."

    Despite never receiving credit for her groundbreaking discovery, Pert continued to work in the field of neuroscience until she died in 2013.