International Women’s Day: A look at the lesser-known women who’ve influenced me

International Women's Day: A look at the lesser-known women who've influenced me


When you read blogs and lists of the world’s most inspirational women, they all have similar names on them. This isn’t to say that they’re wrong, how could they be when they refer to women such as Emeline Pankhurst, Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart and so many more? 

These women changed the world. 

What’s missing for me are the women writers, musicians and actors that had a massive influence on my life – Marie Curie may have won two nobel prizes, but honestly, I wouldn’t be who I am today without some of the women I mention below. 

Women with words 

I have always been an avid reader, I grew up surrounded by books and encouraged to read anything and everything. Women authors taught me so much, including how to be comfortable in my own skin. 

Pioneering women such as Judy Blume (if you have read Forever, you’ll understand why she gets a nod here). 

All the way through to Eve Ensler and Nancy Friday, who taught me that being a feminist was not just normal, but strongly encouraged. 

Women have such an impact with their incredible stories. Margaret Atwood may have had a huge resurgence since Channel Four made a series of her incredible book The Handmaid’s Tale, but believe me, she has so many other great books as well. 

In a previous job, I was involved in a literary prize and I got to meet Sarah Hall and Val McDermid. I totally fan-girled them both! 

Before I move away from women writers, I wanted to sing the praises of Marjane Satrapi, Bernice Eisenstein and Audrey Niffenegger – their graphic novels and illustrated books are truly stunning – seek them out if you’ve never read them. 

Women in art 

So many names, so many influences. Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Georgia O’Keefe and Barbara Hepworth, they have all created work that makes my heart sing!

I recommend visiting the Hepworth Museum & Sculpture Garden in St. Ives. A walk around the gardens seeing her bronzes in the positions she placed them in, is a joy. Huge artworks that are imposing in size but so soft in shape, they call out to be touched. It is worth mentioning, you cannot touch them, even though Hepworth herself said “everything I make is to touch”. Go in Spring, when the gardens are alive and full of blossom! 

Women in music 

My childhood home was full of books, art and music – it’s a home I have recreated for my son. 

Music can transport you back to places and times long forgotten. I will often be commuting on the bus, but in my mind be dancing and singing along to Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox, Sinead O’Connor or even Beyonce these days. 

In fact, I have a playlist on my phone that is called All the Awesome Ladies

Women on screen 

Finally, I want to shout out to the women actors and writers from TV and film. From amazing, strong, fierce female characters such as Ripley (Sigorney Weaver in all the Alien films), or Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton in Terminator) proving women could save the world from jeopardy whilst wearing a dirty white vest too (not just Bruce Willis!). To the incredible writing skills of Michaela Coel (I will Destroy You), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag), Sally Wainwright (Happy Valley), Aisling Bea (This Way Up) or Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) – these women have had an impact on my life and I continue to grow because of them and the other wonderful women they have affected.

These are my influential women. These are the women that made me. So, on this day I want to thank them, my mum, my female friends and the amazing women I work with here at Spark.