1. Mary Shelley
Shelley is the most old-timey on our list. She may not be a teenager in that picture up there, but she was only 18 when she wrote her first novel, Frankenstein. Yeah, that Frankenstien. The one credited with being the birth of science fiction. And all because of a teenage girl and her ~*imagination*~.
2. Tavi Gevinson
This is a list of teen wunderkinds written in the 2010s, and as such it is practically required that Tavi Gevinson be featured on it. That’s because Gevinson went from powerful fashion blogger (at age 11) to editor-in-chief of her own popular online magazine. She’s infuriatingly eloquent and wise for her age, and she is using her influence to give a voice to the looked-down-upon group of the teenage girl. Oh, and she was in a movie with Julia Louis-Dreyfous recently. She’ll make you feel lazy every day of your life.
3. Duro-Aina Adebola, Akindele Abiola, Faleke Oluwatoyin, and Bello Eniola
This is actually four girls in one spot on this list, but even though they each easily deserve their own slot they were working together on the same project so work with us. Because these four Nigerian teenage girls worked together to invent a urine-powered generator. It can turn a liter of urine into six hours of electricity. That’s pretty badass.
4. Anne Frank
It’s nearly impossible to separate Frank from her fate and the truly tragic conditions under which she lived and then died, which is why she is by far the heaviest of the names on this list. But Frank resonates throughout history in part because, at her core, she is similar to hundreds of thousands of other young creative-minded girls. Her wisdom and her writings last and are perhaps the most passed-around piece of writing to survive the Holocaust — precisely because what she had to say was so important for so many reasons.
5. Malala Yousafzai
Yousafzai started speaking out for the education of girls and women in 2008, when she was only 11. She was shot by the Taliban because of this at the age of 15, but she lived and continued her campaign for education rights. She was nominated for a freaking Nobel Peace prize this year at the age of sixteen. And have you seen her interview with Jon Stewart (above)? Because it’s kind of the greatest.
6. Brittany Wenger
A 17-year-old girl from Florida, Wenger won the Google Science Fair in 2012 for designing a neural network that can diagnose breast cancer with 99% accuracy. This year, she designed a computer program that can do the same with leukemia. Kind of proves what you can do if you pay really close attention in science class.
7. Angela Zhang
So what did you do for your high school science fair? Because Angela Zhang won $100,000 in the national Siemen’s science contest for a project that some are saying could be a lead on a freaking cure for cancer. Here’s how she put it: “I created a nanoparticle that’s kind of like the Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment in that it can detect cancer cells, eradicate the cancer cells and then monitor the treatment response. So the major aim of the project was to personalize cancer medicine.”
Think about that the next time you think teenage girls are just spending their nights reblogging gifs of One Direction on tumblr.
They can do that, too. They might also save your life.