5 Awesome TIME 100 Gals You've Never Heard Of

There are other women on the list besides Rihanna and Chelsea Handler, and they're just as cool.
Publish date:
April 18, 2012
sara benincasa, TIME 100


The 2012 TIME 100 list is out! The 2012 TIME 100 list is out! The 2012 TIME 100 list is out! This is basically akin to the unveiling of the senior superlatives in the high school yearbook (FYI, your authoress was Class Journalist AND Most Unforgettable. A double coup!)

Presumably, the hardworking staff at TIME sits around with cheese danish and coffee (or, more likely, whiskey and Funyuns) to figure out who shall be among this year's anointed. And while the list always includes a big dose of famous folks, it also includes lesser-known humans, many of whom are doing incredible work with little recognition from the mainstream media (until now, of course.) Let's celebrate five fabulous TIME 100 females who aren't exactly household names, but should be!

Barbara Van Dahlen:Babs, 52, devotes a great deal of her time to a subject that receives quite a bit of attention here on XOJane: mental health issues. Her specific focus is the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and other mental illnesses among the U.S. Armed Forces. She heads Give An Hour, an organization that encourages psychologists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to volunteer their time to work with suffering veterans and their families. She helps combat the remaining stigma against mental illness in macho-driven military culture, making her a very special kind of warrior.

Elinor Ostrom: Elinor is a genius. No, really, she is. She's 78 now, and in 2009 became the first woman to ever score the Nobel Prize in Economics. She's "done field studies of the world's fisheries, roamed with shepherds in Swiss pastures and trudged around the Los Angeles water basin to distill the essentials of harnessing cooperation to overcome selfish interests." And she's still kicking. May we all have so much to be proud of when we reach her age. And hey, who says girls aren't good at math?

Dulce Matuz: In addition to having an adorable headshot, Dulce seems straight-up awesome. Only 27 years old, she's the president of the Arizona DREAM (Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act Coalition. Dulce seeks to obtain citizenship for kids who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16 and who have attended college here or served in the U.S. military. And like Elinor Ostrom, she's skilled in a traditionally male-dominated discipline -- in Dulce's case, electrical engineering. I had to restrain myself from friend requesting her on Facebook.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller: Miller, 66, has worked in public service in Jamaica since 1974. The first female prime minister of Jamaica, she was elected in 2006 and re-elected in 2011. But that's not her only historic first. Miller is doing something unprecedented in Jamaica by pushing for full civil rights for gays and lesbians. If you're at all familiar with the extreme homophobia rampant in Jamiacan culture, you know what a badass move this is.

Maryam Durani: You want tough? Maryam Durani is tough. A member of the provincial council in Kandahar, Afghanistan, she also own and operates a radio station that focuses on women's concerns. And in Kandahar, still home to many Taliban fighters, there's plenty for women to worry about. Case in point: Durani has survived more than one assassination attempt. In March, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave her one of the State Department's annual International Women of Courage awards.

There are plenty of other amazing intellectuals, activists, and professional ass-kickers on the list (as well as, um, the chick who invented Spanx. Which I'm currently wearing, so I should accept that her work is influencing my tummy at this exact moment). Check out the full list of influencers and see what you think. Would you make some additions (or subtractions) to the list?