Marie Curie named top woman who changed the world


Marie Curie, Florence Nightingale and Margaret Thatcher have been named as the top three women who changed the world as we know it, it emerged yesterday.

Regarded as the most iconic woman in science, Marie Curie’s pioneering work in chemistry made her the first woman ever to win a Nobel prize and she then went on to become the first person ever to win two.

Often hailed as the founder of modern nursing, ‘Lady of the Lamp’ Florence Nightingale was voted into second place following her efforts at the forefront of the Crimean War.

The research was commissioned to mark the return of Sky Arts’ hit comedy series Psychobitches, the satirical show which playfully delves into the minds of some of history’s most influential and iconic women.

Featuring an all-star cast of acclaimed and celebrated comedic talent including Rebecca Front and Sharon Horgan – and with appearances from the likes of Sheridan Smith, Alexa Chung and Jack Whitehall – the sketch show sees women such as Margaret Thatcher, Queen Victoria, The Mitford sisters and Florence Nightingale examined on the psychologist’s couch.

Britain’s first and only female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, rounds off the top three in the poll. Commonly known as the Iron Lady, she led the Conservative party for 15 years and was known for her uncompromising approach to politics.

From a list of iconic women, 2000 Brits voted suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst into fourth place and the revered Mother Teresa came fifth.

The study saw Princess Diana voted sixth in the list of women who changed the world, while Britain’s longest-serving monarch, Queen Victoria also featured highly.

The writing of Anne Frank gave a moving commentary on the war through one little girl’s diary until her tragic death in 1945 and sees her placed inside the top 10.

When quizzed on the common characteristics of the women in the list, the fact that so many were unafraid to challenge the beliefs of their time was the thing admired most.

Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus launched a revolution in human civil rights in 1955 featured in 11th, while former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi came 13th.

The adventurer Amelia Earhart flies in at 14th, while Harry Potter scribe JK Rowling also appears inside the top 20, as do Marilyn Monroe and Jane Austen.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey’s power is clearly recognised and sees her appear among the women who changed the world, alongside Hillary Clinton and youngest ever Nobel prize recipient, Malala Yousafzai.

However, only a third of the 2,000 polled felt there were enough inspirational figures for today’s younger generation. In fact, a resounding eight in ten felt young women idolise modern celebrities far too much.

A spokesperson for Sky Arts said, “There’s no doubt that the women on this list changed the world and continue to inspire people today.

‘’In Psychobitches we get to see another side of some of them the Margaret Thatcher, Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I you see on the show present themselves very differently to how they are depicted in history books.

‘’These characters – and all the women in the series – offer us a light-hearted look at what these incredible women might have confessed on the psychiatrist’s couch, given the chance.”

Psychobitches launches with a double bill on Tuesday 25th November at 9pm on Sky Arts


1. Marie Curie
2. Florence Nightingale
3. Margaret Thatcher
4. Emmeline Pankhurst
5. Mother Teresa
6. Princess Diana
7. Queen Victoria
8. Anne Frank
9. Joan of Arc
10. Queen Elizabeth I
11. Rosa Parks
12. Queen Elizabeth II
13. Indira Gandhi
14. Amelia Earhart
15. Amy Johnson
16. J.K. Rowling
17. Marilyn Monroe
18. Jane Austen
19. Mary, Queen of Scots
20. Queen Mother
21. Coco Chanel
22. Benazir Bhutto
23. Enid Blyton
24. Marie Antoinette
25. Helen Keller
26. Oprah Winfrey
27. Germaine Greer
28. Eva Peron
29. Hilary Clinton
30. Malala Yousafzai
31. Linda McCartney
32. Audrey Hepburn
33. Eleanor Roosevelt
34. Maya Angelou
35. Michelle Obama
36. Kate Middleton Duchess of Cambridge
37. Billie Jean King
38. Katharine Hepburn
39. Ingrid Bergman
40. Simone de Beauvoir


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