Murasaki Shikibu – 11th Century, Novelist
Everyone knows that famous female writers such as the Bronte sisters took on male names to be taken seriously, but did you know that the first modern novel in history is credited to a woman? Murasaki Shikibu was brought to court to be a lady in waiting to the Empress Akiko, after being noticed for her brilliant mind and writing talent. After observing the daily dramas of the upper classes, she used her intimate knowledge to pen ‘The Tale of Genji’ about a fictitious prince. The novel became a big hit from the moment of its release.
Tomoe Gozen – 12th Century, Warrior
Tomoe Gozen is known as Japan’s most prolific female warrior. Although it was usual for women to be trained in defensive arts, Tomoe went straight for the head. (Literally. The heads of enemies were considered trophies). There are contradicting accounts of her relationship with Lord Kiso no Yoshinaka, but whether she was his wife or concubine, most historians agree that he was so impressed with her fighting prowess that she fought alongside him as his leading commander in the Genpei War. Tomoe stood head and shoulders above the rest, usually because she’d decapitated the competition…
Masako Katsura – 1950’s, Billiards Player
Masako Katsura (known as Katsy) blazed a trail for female sports professionals in the 1950s. She was the first woman to compete for any world billiards title and earned the nickname the ‘First Lady of Billiards’. Standing at just 5 feet tall, this tiny lady wowed crowds by holding her own against the world’s best male players. Following her world championship appearance, she set out on her own exhibition tour of the USA. She stated, ‘I hope my tour will convince women that billiards is not only a man’s game. Women can play just as well as men’. Preach Katsy!
Chiaki Mukai – 1990’s, Astronaut
Chiaki Mukai is living proof of women’s ability to multitask. Not only is she a cardiovascular surgeon, she also managed to squeeze in time to become an astronaut. Now that’s good time management. Dr. Mukai was the first Japanese woman in space and the first Japanese citizen to travel to space twice. She has received an array of awards from the Japanese government for her contributions to science and technology, as well as gender equality. Her incredible work ethic should be inspiration to us all to reach for the stars!
Who’s your boss lady inspiration? Let us know in the comments!