The Most Influential Female Atheist of 2010

It’s that time of year again! Yep, time for arbitrarily quantifiable Top 10 lists. Last year’s poll on influential atheist women was so successful, I felt like it would be a great idea to do one again.

Yes, we all know polls aren’t scientifically meaningful – technically PZ Myers was one of the most influential female atheists of 2009 (should never allow write-ins when Pharyngulites are around). But the way I see it, all the women on this list are winners, and this is just one way to showcase them. Here are the nominees, suggested by my blog readers via twitter and facebook, or added by yours truly:

I know it’s hard to vote when there are so many awesome women on one list, so you can vote for up to three. If you want to vote for someone not on the list, please select “Other” and leave your vote in the comments:

Who was the most influential female atheist of 2010?Market Research

It was hard selecting just 15 nominees – you can see a much longer list of awesome female atheists here.

Some people will probably think a women-only list is just perpetuating sexism, or implying women can’t play with the “big boys” of atheism, so they need their own poll. But really, it’s addressing the problem that so many women are doing fabulous things in the movement, but too few people know about their achievements. This is just one way of highlighting all the awesome work they’ve done in the past year.

*People using Google Reader or other RSS feed aggregators may not be able to see the poll. Please visit the original post to voice your opinion!


  1. says

    I don’t see it as women can’t play with the big boys. It’s more like the atheist blogosphere is male dominated just like most endeavors. Lists like this is exactly what is needed. Awesomeness “J”.Kriss

  2. says

    My ‘Other’ vote.With all due respect:Out of that list, I think Margaret Downey said something important and public this year and I watched a video of Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Colbert this past year. Beyond that, I’ve seen nothing by any of these other women anywhere that I can recall. Nothing against them, I’m sure they are doing their thing.The one atheist woman I have seen the most of is the character Britta Perry, played by Gillian Jacobs, on the very popular show Community. I know it may seem like I am making a joke, but think about it for a second, a positive character on a major network who openly states they are an atheist (and the other leader of the group Jeff Winger, played by Joel McHale, is agnostic). That is a pretty big step forward.

  3. Jim Steele says

    I voted for ‘Other’, to mean Kathy Griffin. I took ‘influential’ to imply influence in popular culture in general, rather than just among the skeptical community. For honorable mention I would pick Julia Galef. I love the Rationally Speaking podcasts.

  4. Anonymous-Oh-God-Keep-Her-Away says

    Margaret Downey is uninteresting, a poor speaker, and from my conversations with her totally nuts. I am afraid to be in the same room as that woman.

  5. Greta Christina says

    I’m going to second — or at this point, fifth or sixth — the shocking omission of one Jen McCreight. How on earth could she be left off a list of Most Influential Female Atheists of 2011? What kind of out- of- touch crackpot wrote this list, anyway?

  6. says

    Another vote for Jen McCreight.Although you may not have been the most constructively influential female atheist of 2010, but you were definitely the most visible.

  7. Ralfnausk says

    As Jen McCreight is not on the poll, i will vote for the second most influential female atheist – because i don’t think “Boobquake” can be topped in raising awareness to the absurdity of religion.

  8. Amy says

    Amanda Metskas! She is Executive Director of Camp Quest, Inc, a summer camp for kids from atheist (etc) families, and several new locations were added this year as well as preparing for debut next year. Go Camp Quest!

  9. says

    Hey thanks Jen – and yes you should be on the ballot. Maybe somebody could hack the poll…People who don’t know about her should check out Maryam Namazie, vote or no vote. She does amazing, risky work.

  10. plublesnork says

    I voted other.The woman who has had the most impact on my personal betterment would have to be Melissa McEwan from Shakesville. She’s helped me see things that privilege had previously hidden from my view.I’d also like to cast a vote for Angie Jackson, aka Angie The Anti-Theist. She talked openly and publicly about her abortion in an attempt to make it less taboo to acknowledge getting a perfectly legal procedure done, and that one doesn’t need to be ashamed, nor did she stay silent when the bigots tried relentlessly to make her feel the shame they think she should.Molly Norris also deserves a mention for “Everybody draw Muhammed Day”. Her idea has cost her a lot in personal freedoms, and like Angie, she’s given the finger to a taboo that just shouldn’t be.

  11. Tom Rhoads says

    All very worthy, and it’s great that you are showcasing them here. However, my vote is for Carolyn Porco. Of course, we all know that PZ can win again if he decides he wants to. :)

  12. bob42 says

    Poll Daddy supports multiple choices, and if I understand correctly, your latest vote overrides any you might have cast before. I’d have voted for Jen too, because of the awesomeness of Boobquake. She is my write-in candidate.I hanged my chads for Rebecca (cuz she’s just plain cool) and for Dr. Scott because of my appreciation of the NCSE, and her timely visits to Austin to help stop the fundies on the State Board of Education from dumbing down everyone’s kids for the next 10 years.

  13. Jlbriggs says

    I’m all for modesty, but as has been said, boobquake puts you on this list Jen, and among many other things makes you my ‘other’ vote.

  14. Emily says

    Other: Jen McCreight (woo! spelled it right!) for Boobquake. You really were the most visible of these choices, as my sister who doesn’t care at all about secularism came to boobquake through her friends before I could even tell her about it. Well done, you.

  15. DC says

    My other vote(s) are these two:1-Jen McCreight…you have no idea of your reach on these matters!2-Reba Boyd Wooden…director of Indy Center for Inquiry….influential in bringing together a community of non-believers in the middle of the Bible belt, keeping it running, publishing her thoughts regularly, keeping the members active, supporting campus secular groups in the state,pulling in great nationally known speakers and having what has to be the most successful CFI franchise in the country……and on and on.

  16. Eaving O'Larkin says

    Jen I would like to applaud your stance on selection bias, though I think the modesty bit is a tad foolish. I’m sure you’ll ignore the other votes for yourself, but do know you were rather brilliantly influential this year and your blog is a blast.

  17. quantheory says

    I compulsively have to cast a vote for Greta Christina on anything (positive). Even if the category is for most efficient flying carburetor. srsly.

  18. jan says

    Voted other; all female atheists are in a sense influential, especially those we only hear about in the news because they spoke out in a retarded society and suffer severe consequences.

  19. Deen says

    Why isn’t that boobquake person on here? What’s her name again…My ‘other’ vote goes to Jen as well. I would’ve happily voted for Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson or Rebecca Watson too, but boobquake got so much media attention that for me Jen wins this year.

  20. Mmb2ba says

    Man, Melissa McEwan has me split. I almost always agree with her ideas, and the content of her posts, but she’s so openly contemptuous of everything and everybody that I find it hard to really “like” her.

  21. Mmb2ba says

    if wikipedia is to be believed, Scott “describes herself as atheist but does not discount the importance of spirituality”

  22. Luciano Dondero says

    I also would like to have four votes: Ali, Watson and two (others): McCreight and Hirschfield

  23. says

    Other: Jen McCreightI had trouble weighing influence, so I just voted for the three who most influenced me, personally. Jen McCreight was easily top of that list.

  24. Quiltrebel says

    I know there’s a lot of this, but I would have to say that you should be the winner of this poll. Boobquake rates right up there with Flying Spaghetti Monster in bringing a humorous twist of common sense to religious nonsense.

  25. the_Siliconopolitan says

    Paula Z. Mijnheers for ‘her’ repeated mocking and setting right of the Whatabouttehmenz brigade.If only ‘she’ would permaban anyone who whines about his missing foreskin. (This is where I start whining about my botched vasectomy.)

  26. C Butler1990 says

    I say you, Jen! Nothing got feminist skeptics rallied this year like Boobquake did!I realize you’re trying to be unbiased, but really, this is one year in which you are seriously in the running (which is NOT to say that you were not influential pre-Boobquake, nor that you will never top it. Just that it was a really impressive achievement for skepticism, especially with all the media attention it got.)Vote Jen!

  27. BigEvil says

    I don’t think that Cristina Rad gets enough credit from atheists-at-large. She is not a blogger or author or scientist, but her and Thunderfoot are the major atheists players on youtube. Easy to dismiss her for being beautiful, sexy and provocative, but she carries alot of influence and her arguments are every bit as good as the other women on the list.

  28. Wendy Hughes says

    All these women are amazing and wonderful skeptics, and have added a lot to my life and my idea of myself — but I will suggest another who has daily given a voice to women, and men, on an accessible and entertaining website, — I vote for Heidi Anderson. Heidi is a sensible and thoughtful person whose tenderness and braininess are evident in the authors who post on her blog, as well as in the range of topics, and in her own contributions. Thanks, Jen, for this survey!

  29. Cath_of_Canberra says

    That boobquake chick.The Great Greta Christina for anything (flying carburetor?? OK!) And I have heard of some, but not all, of these others – so thanks for the tips. I do find it rather odd to see someone label Melissa McEwan as “contemptuous of everything” – she posts the daily cuteness and the teaspoons and Butch Pornstache, as well as the contempt-deserving and depressing reports from rape culture. I like how she’s so caring as to look out for her commenters’ feelings with the trigger warnings and the heavy moderation. A safe space is so hard to maintain.

  30. says

    Based on this sort of poll/thread, and all the write-ins, it seems like the atheist blogosphere might lean slightly towards men, but the women more than hold their own. Maybe I’m just more aware than most, or I spend too much time online… but at least half the stuff in my RSS feed comes from women, atheist and otherwise. In the online world I’m living in, women are more influential than men.

  31. says

    My vote goes to my Mum. Thanks to her I had the rare opportunity to grow up in a rational-atheist household, and never had to deal with the profoundly abusive trauma of religious indoctrination or its dreadful aftermath. You’re awesome Mum – thanks for everything.

  32. Samantha Vimes says

    Pam Spaulding shares the blog Pandagon with Amanda, also posts about Atheism, covers more about the harm religion does to black and gay communities, and has her own blog as well. I would suggest a co-nomination for them; as much as I love Amanda for the funny, Pandagon is a group blog.

  33. Erik says

    From her far too long stint in Dutch politics and media, I can say that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is neither awesome nor influential, just merely seeking attention, and sadly getting it.Which doesn’t mean she should stay on your side of the pond. We already have enough “Look at me! Look at me! I’m saying something about Muslims and foreigners!” idiots as it is. And oddly enough they all came from the same political party as A.H.A. Funny that.

  34. Robert says

    Auatralia’s first female Prime Minister and proud atheist Julia Gillard should be considered. No profile in the US but a woman who went on the media while the electioneering was underway this year to admit that she is not a beliver and while respecting a persons right to believe, she does not, and prefers to be honest in regards belief (or lack of it). Australian politics is not greatly influenced by religion, but it is a power that needs to be closely watched. The Federal education authorities are preparing a new (for the first time) national curriculum for high schools. They’ve copped some flack from the History sector by deleting all but two mentions of religion and christianity. This has resulted in a pile, small pile of poor persecuted christians crying foul. Imagine that, a generation of kids that are freed from the ball and chain that is religious belief.

  35. says

    Aw shucks, thanks. :) To be honest, I had no idea so many people would know about it. I just thought I was talking to my (at that time) 500 youtube subscribers, not the world.

  36. Epi Nephron says

    I think it’s mandatory to write in to support PROFESSOR Paula Z. Myers, though Jen McCreight would have to be right up there with “her”.

  37. koszmic says

    Hi Jen,I voted for Ali and Marcotte, mostly based on name recognition. But I will say that Marcotte’s writings at Pandagon were very influential for me in my early blog-reading days, so she would get my number 1 vote, as a “lifetime achievement” award rather than any specific thing in 2010.

  38. Reeddlh says

    Jen McCreight, who was so influential that she got me, my great niece, and two granddaughters all showing some cleavage on the chosen day.

  39. Ubi Dubium says

    Jen, I’m also picking you. For someone so young, you brought us a lot of positive attention this year. Boobquake was brilliant, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

  40. Jb says

    I’d vote for Julia Sweeney. Her play “Letting Go of God” was incredibly funny, personal, and moving. I highly recommend it (it’s now on video).

  41. says

    Yes my Christian sister even participated in Boobquake (because sometimes people miss the freaking point. Also she’s a huge nursing advocate so she loves boob-acceptance.)

  42. The Great Attractor says

    I find it strange that Rebecca Watson always polls so strongly in these types of polls, even though to listen to her on SGU, the average listener would not even realise she is atheist.

  43. says

    Sadly there has been no mention in these comments of our other currently serving woman atheist political leader, Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland.Actually the Australian political landscape is and has been well endowed with women atheists, either currently serving or retired, e.g. – Nicola Roxon, Carmen Lawrence, and Lyn Allison to name a few. Also I have to wonder a little at some of the former high profile Australian Democrats – Cheryl Kernot, Natasha Stott Despoja, and Meg Lees.Robert quite rightly points out the obvious though, and that is politicians always need watching – whatever their beliefs. The front page of the Sydney Morning Herald (1-2 January) bears an article by David Marr (another Aussie godless), stating how Gillard has promised to increase funding for (Johnny Howard’s) the idiotic and highly criticised School Chaplaincy Program. Spare us!!

  44. CatzillaSue says

    Annire Laurie Gaylor, because her lawsuit win against the National Day of Prayer angered more religious right nuts than any other atheist’s act, male or female.

  45. steelypip says

    I am putting in a vote for Ariane Sherine, who started the London Atheist Bus campaign. OK, the original campaign was in 2009, but the campaign is still going strong and it was the success of that campaign that prompted the explosion of atheist bus & billboard campaigns around the world. I think she has single-handedly done more to raise the public profile of atheism than anyone else in the last two years.

  46. Billwalker666 says

    Wow ! so many I never even HEARD of ! I hereby elevate all of them to my pantheon of heroes. But Annie Laurie Gaylor was already there.

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