Think of the statue that you see most often. Maybe it stands in the middle of a park, or you pass by it while walking to work. If that statue represents a real person, there’s a good chance that it’s a man. In September 2021, art history and social justice nonprofit Monument Lab examined the historical figures, themes, and myths represented in nearly 50,000 monuments across the United States. Their audit found that many of those are statues that represent wealthy, white men. When female figures do appear on monuments, they’re likely to be fictional characters or allegorical concepts rather than real women.
Luckily, this pattern is starting to change. Recent years have seen a number of new monuments to women, including a 14-foot-tall bronze statue of women’s rights advocates Susan B. Anthony, Sojourner Truth, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in New York’s Central Park, and a sculpture of Licoricia of Winchester, “the most important Jewish woman in medieval England.” This month, the Smithsonian will display 120 life-sized neon orange statues of women who have made strides in science and technology.
Below are a few of our favorite monuments to real women in the United States and Europe. From a rock and roll grandmother to a Ukrainian resistance fighter to an early abolitionist, these women live on through metal and stone.