There is a tendency when doing a project like this to focus on women who share the author’s politics, or who are mostly apolitical. But there have certainly been women who were significant in history and who improved opportunities for women by their achievements whose politics I disagree with.

Margaret Thatcher is the only woman ever to have held the post of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Known as the “Iron Lady” she was an influential force in the Cold War. She also made drastic cuts to many government social programs in the U.K. Some might argue that these cuts were necessary and that in spite of them the U.K. maintained a much stronger social safety net than the U.S.

Interestingly, unlike most politicians, especially in the U.S., Thatcher had a science background, having studied X-ray crystallography under Dorothy Hodgkin.