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Rad Ladies Of History With Author Kate Schatz

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Rad Women Worldwide

Courtesy of Kate Schatz/Rad Women Worldwide

It’s the time of year to be thankful, and the hosts of WBEZ’s Nerdette podcast are thankful for Kate Schatz. She’s the author behind Rad American Women A-Z and Rad Women Worldwide, two illustrated compendiums that highlight well-known and unsung women of history.

“I like to say it’s a children’s book for all ages,” Schatz said of her newest book, Rad Women Worldwide.

On this week’s Nerdette, Schatz tells hosts Tricia Bobeda and Greta Johnsen about a few of her historical heroines and explains why this book about girls is also a book for boys.

On what makes these ladies rad

“No matter what these women were doing, what time period, what country, what culture, they all had a really clear vision and passion of what they wanted to do or what they wanted to be. They all faced some kind of adversity, whether it was family or societal expectations or an oppressive government, and they all persevered and did really great things."

On why Rad Women is a book for boys

“I really like to talk about how this book is totally for boys, and men as well. I want to empower girls and give them these examples but if boys aren’t interested in these examples -- if they’re not seeing women in positions of power and leadership -- then nothing changes.

“Boys are super into it because they’re good stories. These are just cool people that did awesome things. They all happen to be women, but they're fun to read.”

On Sophie Scholl, a 21-year-old from Germany who helped publish and distribute the first anti-Nazi propaganda leaflets in the early 1940s

“Her brother Hans and his friends decided to start a group they called the White Rose and they were going to print these leaflets that were anti-Hitler. At first they did not want Sophie to join because she was a girl, but then they realized that not only was she super-smart but she would be less likely to be stopped by the Gestapo and suspected of any kind of anti-Nazi activity because she was a girl. So she was like their secret weapon.

“In 1943, they were distributing their sixth leaflet at school. The bell rang. Sophie was at the top of a staircase. She knew students were going to come out of class but she didn’t want to waste the leaflets. She threw an armful over the stairs and a janitor saw her and turned her and her brother in. They confessed. They owned up to what they were doing. They didn’t rat on anyone else but a lot of other members of their group did get arrested. They were charged with treason and sentenced to death.

“They just totally held their heads high. They defended their actions. They spoke out and condemned everybody who was in with the Nazis. And her last words were, ‘The sun still shines.’ And they were both executed.”

On Venus Williams, who fought for pay equality at her sport's highest level

“Venus [led the] campaign to change the payout of the French Open and Wimbledon which, up until 2007, openly paid women less prize money than men -- like that was just a thing that was just normal for these huge, biggest tennis tournaments in the world. And it took actually several years of Venus leading this campaign to change that. It wasn’t just like Venus said, ‘Hey, you need to pay us equally’ and they said ‘OK.’ They really resisted it.

“Finally in 2007 both tournaments came in, and the first person to win that equal prize money at Wimbledon was Venus Williams. She got paid the same as Roger Federer.”

Women's singles champion Venus Williams and men's singles Champion Roger Federer pose with their Wimbledon championship trophies at the Champions' Dinner in London on July 8, 2007.(AP Photo/Bob Martin, AELTC pool)

NERDS! Before you go, tell us: For what or whom are you thankful? Tweet us @NerdettePodcast or send an audio clip to We’d love to hear it! Seriously!

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