Drawing of Bessie Coleman by Amelie Chabannes.

Drawing of Bessie Coleman by Amelie Chabannes.

UNLADYLIKE is an innovative multimedia series of short animated documentary films featuring extraordinary unsung American women from the early years of feminism, and the contemporary women who now follow in their footsteps.

Set to launch in 2020 in honor of the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the series will present 31 five-minute shorts for the 31 days of Women’s History Month, distributed through a high-profile digital platform, social media feeds, educational outreach campaigns in middle schools, high schools and universities, and civic engagement events across the United States. Each short will introduce a little-known woman who changed America during the Progressive Era (1890s to 1920s), a time of social and technological upheaval when women tested the waters of newfound freedoms and fought for the right to vote. 

They followed their passions, defied social boundaries, and broke barriers in then-male-dominated professions such as science, business, aviation, journalism, medicine, and the arts -- the first woman to, for instance, earn an international pilot's license, study genetics, found a hospital, fight for the desegregation of schools, explore the Arctic, open a film studio or sing at Carnegie Hall. Presenting history in a bold new way, we will bring these women's stories back to life through breathtaking original artwork and animation, rare historical archive, and interviews with historians, descendants, and accomplished women of today who are influenced by the achievements of these pioneers. UNLADYLIKE will ensure audiences gain a nuanced, inclusive understanding of U.S. history and women’s contributions to various professional fields, and demonstrate how this history still resonates and shapes American lives today.

The women of UNLADYLIKE hail from all walks of life and background. Ensuring racial, cultural, economic, and geographic diversity is one of our biggest priorities and one of the greatest strengths of this series. We will emphasize the social and racial prejudices these heroines faced, the emotional and physical roadblocks they overcame, their successes and failures, the men who supported them on their journeys, and what we can learn today from their persistence and the ways they battled oppression. 


Much progress has been made in women’s rights over the last 100 years and yet sexism remains one of the biggest barriers to women living sustainable and healthy lives. We may be preparing to put a woman on the $20 bill, but, as a nation and a planet, we still have a long way to go. The vast majority of leaders in the world remain men – out of 193 heads of state and government, only 20 today are women. Only 4% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Women earn less than men for the same jobs. Women still do the lion’s share of housework and childcare, and often face more complex decisions when it comes to balancing their professional success and personal lives.

Meanwhile, the single most important requirement for economic development and good governance in the world today is widely recognized: empowering women.

UNLADYLIKE will do precisely that. While these trailblazers lived more than a century ago, their 'unladylike' stories of overcoming unimaginable odds will model extraordinary persistence and courage for the girls and women, and boys and men, of today.


UNLADYLIKE is created, produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Charlotte Mangin. Artwork and animation is by renowned visual artist Amelie Chabannes. Award-winning filmmaker Kathy Leichter is our development and impact producer. Public media veteran Sandra Rattley is our executive producer.

Our academic advisory board is composed of scholars from a wide range of women’s history specializations: Michael Bronski, Professor of Practice in Media and Activism in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University; Yong Chen, Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine; Hasia Diner, Professor of American Jewish History at New York University; Cynthia E. Orozco, Professor of History and Humanities at Eastern New Mexico University; Beth Piatote, Associate Professor of Native American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley; Stephanie J. Shaw, Professor of History at Ohio State University; Karen Manners Smith, Professor Emerita of History at Emporia State University; and Nancy C. Unger, Professor and Chair of History at Santa Clara University.

We are currently building partnerships with distribution platforms and like-minded women's and girls' organizations for maximum impact on a national scale. 

Our producing partner is The Futuro Media Group, a nonprofit journalism organization that creates multimedia content for and about the new American mainstream in the service of empowering people to navigate the complexities of an increasingly diverse and connected world.