As the World Economic Forum suggests gender parity is 200 years away, a look at how researching and writing about women from the past 600 years give me purpose and motivation, and constantly remind me that another 200 years is far too long.

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While the stories of history’s first female doctors of philosophy are inspiring, they also highlight the galling realities of women’s centuries-long struggle to obtain equal educational opportunities and professional and intellectual respect. Seen as a whole, they have the power to light a fire beneath armchair inspiration and provoke similarly bold and progressive action.