Smart women
December 1, 2009 9:00 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in being inspired by smart women. What are your recommendations for blogs or autobiographies of strong-willed, independent and successful women?

For most of my life (with the exception of my mother) I have looked up to the accomplishments of men. The vast majority of blogs that I have followed in the past have also been male-dominated.

As a result, a part of me has been long convinced of the idea that men are smarter than women. And my reasoning behind this is due to my belief that because women are so strongly influenced by their emotions and the need to find a long term mate that they devote the majority of their energy to attracting that mate (for ex: picking up the fashion magazine instead of the newspaper)

I know that this isn't correct for all women--I have encountered many strong and smart women but this bias still remains. As a young woman myself, I'd like to look for successful & note-worthy women to not only help change my perspective, but to also act as my role models.

I'm open to any suggestions, but I would prefer blogs or books by women who are either in their 20s or 30s (and are still alive) that address current events, politics, business, or art.

posted by pulled_levers to Society & Culture (20 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Failing on all your requests I am afraid (dead old woman, very uncurrent events) but I recently listened to and loved this interview with Biddy Cox, who at the age of 17 joined the London Fire Brigade at the height of the Blitz, before being transferred to the "Far East" with the Special Operations Executive and later MI5. You can also learn about the other amazing women of the SOE (a.k.a. The Baker Street Irregulars).
posted by Iteki at 9:14 AM on December 1, 2009

Marion Nestle has a blog here. She comments on nutrition and food policy.

Obama Foodorama is written by a woman, and so is La Vida Locavore (though I don't love the second). Both cover food politics.

Economists Do it with Models is by a woman. It's not my favorite, but it fits your criteria.

Cabinet of Wonders is on hiatus until March, but it's lovely and smart.

Tomato Nation is done by a woman.

It doesn't really fit your criteria, but I also love Martha Stewart's blog.

Heather Corinna is an artist. Plus, she runs Scarleteen and her journal is often brilliant.

I stopped reading Susie Bright's blog, but it's worth checking out.

I'll probably be back with more recommendations later.
posted by hought20 at 9:31 AM on December 1, 2009

This doesn't fit your criteria (women still alive in 20s and 30s), but I can't help but recommend a fantastic, lovely memoir of a very successful woman who found that success later in life, went against the grain of societal convention, and did so with a tremendously supportive and loving partner by her side: Julia Childs: My Life in France.
posted by donovan at 9:39 AM on December 1, 2009

My blog reader, let me show it to you.

Putting aside the fact that strong, smart men and women can care about both current events AND fashion (so I won't mention Jezebel):

The ladies who blog over at Skepchick are incredibly intelligent, well-informed, and all-around awesome. In the same vein I love Greta Christina for her posts on rationality, politics, and sexuality.

For politics and current affairs the bloggers at Shakesville are, to a one, ridiculously smart. Not all of them are women but they all value the contributions of women. Also Pam Spaulding and Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon. I also love Sadie at Tiger Beatdown but she might be too GRAR! FEMINIST SMASH for some people. She sometimes co-blogs with Amanda Hess from The Sexist. The ladies at Shapely Prose used to be pretty focused just on fat activism but they've just announced that they're widening their scope.

More general Purpose blogs that I read: Radio-Free Meredith is an awesome woman interested in crafts, tech, programming, science, and general awesomeness. She was in the press a bit for DIY genetics experiments. Miriam Burstein (Mefi's own thomas j wise) is a literature professor at a teaching university, which fascinates me. Erika Moen does a comic diary.

I could go on.
posted by muddgirl at 9:45 AM on December 1, 2009

Oh, and this is not an autobiography or a blog or even by a woman who is still alive, but if you want to think about the voice of women, especially in the arts but really in anything academic, I strongly recommend reading A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf.
posted by hought20 at 9:47 AM on December 1, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bitch Ph.D..

And in the same feminist vein as muddgirl, Feministing.
posted by hought20 at 9:52 AM on December 1, 2009 [2 favorites]

This is more of an extra-credit suggestion -- she doesn't discuss current events much, or politics, or business. Instead, 6 Year Med discusses her work as a pediatrician in a hospital in a mid-sized city. Some of the entries are absolutely heartbreaking --- but sweet Jesus are they well-written.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:56 AM on December 1, 2009

lots of amazing women lawyers and judges out there:

Justice Sotomayor

Justice Ginsburg

Michele Roberts

Just to name a few.
posted by yarly at 10:07 AM on December 1, 2009

Oh, and also, a lot of strong-willed and independent women in their 20s and 30s aren't going to be found writing blogs. They're too hard at work...
posted by yarly at 10:09 AM on December 1, 2009

The Partly Cloudy Patriot and other historical nonfiction/memoir by Sarah Vowell.

Close to the Machine is an autobiography by Ellen Ullman, engineer.

In Code: A Mathematical Journey by Sarah Flannery. A young Irish woman discovers math with the help of her dad, and makes international headlines with a discovery about cryptography.

Alison Bechdel's Fun Home memoir: Bechdel's personal history, artful and edifying about queerness. Intelligent and poignant.

Respectful of Otters is by a thirtysomething woman in HIV research; it mostly discusses politics, medicine, and public health.

Mel Chua is a twentysomething engineer, open source community manager, and accessibility advocate. Incredibly smart.

Danah Boyd researches social media and other related sociological/anthropological issues.

And, related to the purpose of your question: I found Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women's Changing Lives by Dr. Anna Fels very useful in helping me figure out what it meant for me to want to be a successful woman. She points out that the childhood or adolescent desire for fame is often a precursor to a more nuanced ambition, combining the urge to master some domain or skill with the desire for the recognition of one's peers or community. She also notes that women, especially, get socialized to hide that wish for fame instead of developing it into a healthy passion to guide our careers. Just blew my mind in the best way, and massively helped me guide my career development.
posted by brainwane at 10:23 AM on December 1, 2009

Lots of good suggestions. You might enjoy Gender Across Borders (full disclosure: the senior editor is a friend of mine and I am an occasional contributor). It's written almost entirely by women in their twenties.

And their blogroll is pretty exhaustive when it comes to feminist blogs.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:58 AM on December 1, 2009

Older than your target age, but I would recommend the autobiography of the first female president of Smith College, Jill Kerr Conway - The Road From Coorain. Also try Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.
posted by gudrun at 11:57 AM on December 1, 2009

More smart blogs by smart women:


Filthy Commerce

The Unnecesarean

Sociological Images

I asked some of my friends for suggestions, and they took time off from looking for mates and passed these along.
posted by hought20 at 1:14 PM on December 1, 2009

Oh! And The Book Bench has almost all women writers. I can't believe I forgot that one.
posted by hought20 at 1:18 PM on December 1, 2009

If you're interested in books, Maud Newton is pretty rad.
posted by dizziest at 6:11 PM on December 1, 2009

An intelligent, independent, thoughtful friend of mine has started an interesting blog: how it feels to be fed
posted by violetish at 6:42 PM on December 1, 2009

I think she's in her 40s, but otherwise Yves Smith's blog Naked Capitalism fits your criteria.
posted by A dead Quaker at 9:17 PM on December 1, 2009

adding Echidne and Digby for political commentary, and Female Science Professor for musings about academia.
posted by meijusa at 1:37 AM on December 2, 2009

I am not a fan, but Megan McArdle is the Atlantic's economics blogger and fits the demographic you're looking for.
posted by alicetiara at 3:52 PM on December 2, 2009

I forgot to mention Fugitivus.
posted by brainwane at 7:29 AM on December 3, 2009

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