Who have been Yorkshire’s female icons over the last 70 years?

Who have been the most influential and inspiring women from Yorkshire over the past 70 years?
Who have been the most influential and inspiring women from Yorkshire over the past 70 years?

As BBC’s Woman’s Hour reveals its list of the most influential women of the last 70 years, Chris Bond chooses his own top 10 from Yorkshire.

Lists are by definition a tricky business - let’s face it you’re never going to please everyone.

Even so, when Bridget Jones was named on a power list of women to mark the 70th birthday of BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, it raised a few eyebrows.

It got us thinking about who have been the most influential women from Yorkshire during the past 70 years. There are no shortage of inspirational figures to choose from and after much deliberation we’ve come up with our top 10:

Diana Anderson

After years spent working in laboratories and universities Professor Anderson, chairwoman of biomedical sciences at the University of Bradford, set up her very first company in 2011 at the age of 69 - but what a company. It is developing a unique type of blood test for cancer that predicts an individual’s genetic predisposition to the disease.

Alice Bacon

Born a miner’s daughter, Alice Bacon became Yorkshire’s first MP in 1945. Her experiences as a teacher at an interwar secondary modern put her on a mission to transform education in Britain. She was passionate about how education could radically improve lives in working-class communities and was a tireless champion of this worthy cause.

Janet Baker

She is one of Britain’s leading opera singers closely associated with early Italian opera and the works of Benjamin Britten. The Doncaster-born singer’s performances were admired for their dramatic intensity and in the world of opera she has few rivals.

Betty Boothroyd

In 1992, the House of Commons elected a woman to the post of Speaker for the first time in its 700-year history. The woman in question was the formidable Betty Boothroyd. She served eight years before retiring in 2000. She displayed wit and warmth and became renowned for her forthright style when bringing MPs to order. She astonished the Commons the first time she presided over PMQs, when she closed the session by saying, “Right - time’s up!” It became one of her catchphrases.

Judi Dench

Dame Judi is one of Britain’s most successful actresses and frequently tops polls of the nation’s favourite stage and screen stars. Earlier this year she was named the new honorary president of the Brontë Society and to mark her 81st birthday last year she got a ‘carpe diem’ tattoo. Take a bow.

Jessica Ennis-Hill

She was the poster girl of the 2012 Olympics and her victory in the heptathlon at the London Games was part of the legendary ‘Super Saturday’, when she, along with Greg Rutherford and Mo Farah, all won gold in the space of just 44 minutes. She retired after the Rio Games as one of Britain’s greatest ever athletes.

Barbara Hepworth

A former pupil of Wakefield Girls’ High School, Hepworth was one of the greatest sculptors of the 20th Century and the inspiration behind Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield. She blazed a trail for others to follow.

Helen Sharman

The Sheffield University graduate was working as a chemist when she beat off 13,000 applicants to join the Russian scientific space mission, Project Juno. In doing so she became the first British astronaut and the first woman to visit the Mir space station.

Barbara Taylor Bradford

The writer grew up in Leeds and once worked as a typist at the Yorkshire Evening Post. Her debut novel, A Woman of Substance, has sold 30 million copies and is one of the biggest-selling books of all time, helping her become a literary phenomenon.

Jane Tomlinson

Her name has become a byword for courage and tenacity. She made headlines across the world by competing in a series of epic challenges including marathons and a 4,200 mile cycle ride across the width of the US, despite suffering from terminal cancer. She raised £1.85m for children’s and cancer charities before her death in 2007.

Here’s another 10 women who nearly made the cut - Nicola Adams, Mel B, Beryl Burton, Anita Lonsbrough, Adeeba Malik, Stevie Smith, Amanda Staveley, Sally Wainwright, Sayeed Warsi and Fanny Waterman.