A quiz on pioneering women

Joy Bhattacharjya | Updated on September 20, 2019

Turning point: Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved by the US Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice on September 21, 1981. This image shows the exterior of the Sandra Day O’Connor United States Courthouse, home to the US District Court for the District of Arizona   -  ISTOCK.COM

On this day in 1981 Sandra Day O’Connor was unanimously approved by the US Senate as the first female Supreme Court justice. Our quiz this week is all about pioneering women.

Stellar roles

1. While the Academy Awards have been presented since the late 1920s, it’s only in the 21st century that a woman won an Academy Award for Best Director. Who, and for which film?

2. Which Karnal-born girl made history on November 19, 1997, and famously said, “You are just your intelligence” while experiencing the weightlessness of space?

3. What did the daughter of Hansa Devi and Indo-Tibetan border trader Kishan Singh Pal achieve on May 23, 1984, at 1:07 pm IST for which she won a Padma Shri in 1984, an Arjuna award in 1986, and a Padma Bhushan in 2019?

4. Who was the first Indian woman to win an Olympic Medal for India and in which year did she achieve the feat?

5. Homai Vyarawalla was an Indian pioneer who began work in her profession in the late ’30s and continued into the ’70s. She was awarded a Padma Vibhushan for her work, a profession that gave her the opportunity to interact with the likes of Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and the Dalai Lama. What did Homai Vyarawalla do?

6. Which Oxford-educated former secretary of Mahatma Gandhi was the first Indian woman to hold a Cabinet rank as health minister in the first Union Cabinet?

7. In 1903, Marie Curie became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in physics, sharing it with Antoine Henri Becquerel and Pierre Curie. Who was the first woman to win a Nobel in chemistry?

8. Charles Babbage is regarded as the first man to have built a modern computer, a machine that he called the ‘Analytical Engine’. Who was the first to publish an algorithm to be executed by the machine, making her the first programmer?

9. Sirimavo Bandarnaike was the first woman to be a president, becoming the head of State of Sri Lanka in 1960. In 1994, which country became the first to have both a female president and a female prime minister?

10. What did Gertrude Ederle do between 7:08am and 9:42pm on August 6, 1926, that made her an instant celebrity?


1. Kathryn Bigelow for Hurt Locker

2. Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian-born woman in space who perished in the Columbia shuttle disaster in 2003

3. Bachendri Pal, who became the first Indian woman to summit Mount Everest.

4. Karnam Malleswari, 2000 Sydney Olympics in weighlifting

5. She was one of India’s first photojournalists

6. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, the daughter of the ruler of the former princely state of Kapurthala

7. Again Marie Curie in 1911, for the isolation of the elements radium and polonium

8. Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter. She was 27 at the time.

9. Sri Lanka again. Bandarnaike was the PM and her daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga was the president

10. She became the first woman to swim across the English Channel


Joy Bhattacharjya is a quizmaster

Twitter: @joybhattacharj

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Published on September 20, 2019
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