Why can’t I name the world’s cleverest living women?

So, in a recent cosy night-time chat on the sofa with the kids, we talked about how proud I was of them and how it is almost time for Caitlin to go to junior school (part of her current school but on a different site).

Marie Curie
Marie Curie, Voted The World’s Greatest Female Scientist 

We talked about how some of her friends wouldn’t yet be going because they were perhaps not developing as fast (for example they have health issues), but that physical impairment did not mean they were not as intelligent as everyone else.

The example I used was the great physicist Stephen Hawking, a genius in a body that is failing him. He is, I told the kids, one of the cleverest men in the world.

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa

“Mum”, said Caitlin, “who are the cleverest women in the world?”. 

A simple enough question but a loaded one, nevertheless and, I am cross with myself to admit, one I could not answer with any rapidity. 

All the women I could think of, Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie, Mother Teresa, Jane Austen are all long gone.

Once the kids were in bed, I had to ask myself the more important question “why do I not know who the world’s cleverest women are”. 

Is it a factor of my social media usage? The papers and magazines I read? 

Is it because society now finds Kim Kardashian’s change of hair colour a far more useful barometer of a woman’s value than the achievements of the unsung legions of women at the forefront of scientific, technical and artistic endeavour?

That cannot be true in a thinking society can it?

So, please can you help me out – and I promise to share. Let’s name these inspirational women so that our daughters (and sons!) know their names and their achievements.

We surely owe it to the next generation of the world’s cleverest women.

Caitlin Hobbis

I’d love it if you share your ideas in the comments below or tweet me with your thoughts. 


  1. Lilinha Espindula
    17 April, 2015 / 8:52 pm

    In my opinion, my mum is one of the world's most inspirational women. She is a truly inspiring woman, very kind and considerate! x

  2. Lucy Vest
    17 April, 2015 / 2:23 pm

    Most likely not the cleverest woman in the world, but I named my daughter Emmeline after Emmeline Pankhurst. It helped that I've always loved the name, but her virtues of strength, tenacity, self-belief and courage are all ones that I hope my daughter embodies in her life and her pursuits. Absolutely fantastic post. Definitely food for thought!

    • Linda Hobbis
      17 April, 2015 / 7:26 pm

      That's lovely. We named Caitlin after Dylan Thomas' wife and Ieuan after one of Wales' greatest rugby players. Emmeline's a great name.

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