New Canadian Hundred Dollar Bill Depicts a Woman–U.S., Take Note!

One thing Canadians may notice upon receiving their fancy new PLASTIC hundred dollar bills this month (if they’re fortunate enough to carry around that kind of pocket change), is that the piece of government-issued paper currency bears the face of a woman. To many viewers, the image of a woman with a microscope may initially evoke Rosalind Franklin, the first person to successfully photograph the double helix structure of DNA. But in fact, the woman is anonymous; the scene is meant to show Canadian scientific achievements, such as the discovery of insulin. While that discovery is credited to four men at the University of Toronto in the 1920s, we suppose it’s possible that women were involved, since Toronto had been admitting women since 1884. And Canadian women have certainly made their mark on scientific history.

Now before we continue, it is worth mentioning that yes, the Queen does frequently appear on the back of Canadian coins, as well as on the $20 bill. With that said, as great as it is to have someone—who did absolutely nothing to gain oodles of wealth and power besides being born in the right place and time—immortalized, it’s about time we started recognizing those who have actually made a healthy contribution to society.

The U.S. has a similar problem. Aside from Martha Washington, the Statue of Liberty and an occasional coin cameo from Sacagawea, Susan B. Anthony or Helen Keller, women have been M.I.A. when it comes to securing a spot on the world’s most-used currency. It’s not like it’s even that hard to change the surface of the dollar—new bills are printed and sent into circulation every year. Heck, in the past ten years alone, Canadian bills have been graced with hockey players, curlers and even a lucky moose.

Martha Washington is the only woman to have her portrait appear on U.S. currency.

Sure, the digital age will eventually make money obsolete, but for the time being, current gap in representation has real repercussions. With glass ceilings still in place in most professions that bring prestige or power–including math and science fields–women and girls are in sore need of visible role models. What’s more ubiquitous than a dollar bill?

So consider this an open letter to money makers everywhere: There is more to our world than watching a silvery Prince William and Kate gaze rapturously at each other. This lack of women representation on bills is embarrassing. We should be honoring women like Hillary Clinton, Julia Gillard or Margaret Atwood. And how about Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks? The possibilities are endless and almost completely untapped. With that said, it is a step in the right direction to see a woman scientist on a Canadian bill–even if, once again, Anonymous is a woman.

Here’s to women-friendly change.


  1. The Queen is currently on the $20 and who the heck is Princess Grace? Lizzie’s sister is Margaret. The Queen is on the $1000 and on the old paper $2 which we no longer use.

  2. As a Canadian women in science I’m pretty pumped about this. I also hinted to my family that these bills would make excellent graduation gifts (especially since I’m going to need all the help I can get to pay for grad school!)

  3. pipsipirate says:

    As great as this is, it’s also important to note that the new run of bills is removing women from our $50 bill. For the last decade or so the back of the $50 bill has depicted “the famous five”, women who successfully brought the case of women being included in the definition of “persons” in the constitution to the supreme court (of England at the time the highest court in Canada).

    The new $50 bill, released in the new year removes these five women and replaces them with an Arctic ship.

    Something to keep in mind.

    • Janet E Smith says:

      I did not know this! I am appalled by this insensitivity to women in Canada!!!! I ask all who read this to write to the Office of the Prime Minister of Canada to protest the removal of the Famous Five from the fifty dollar bill, and to insist that the Famous Five by returned to the fifty dollar bill or to the five dollar bill, in the next run of Canadian money bills by the Canadian mint!

  4. thats not totally true about martha washington. sacajawea and susan b anthony have been issued on american currency.

  5. My only concern is the cost of having these designed at a time when our Government is crying that our economy is in trouble and we need to concentrate on the economy rather then attack real issue such as the Omnibus Crime Bill…why in the heck are we designing new bills if we’re that bad off. There was nothing wrong with the old ones….and please don’t tell me it’s a security issue.

  6. I’ve always been proud to be Canadian, and this is just one more reason why. Thank you Canada, and thank you Kyle Bachan for bringing this to the attention of Americans.

    P.S. Margaret Atwood is Canadian.

    • Wow. It’s really embarrassing how you would gush over this as a Canadian but do not realize they took the Famous Five suffragettes off the $50 – you know, the only women on our currency with historical relevance to women’s rights. Now the only women left on our currency are tokens to placate our country’s illusion of inclusiveness.

  7. Terry Rickert says:

    Don’t forget that the UN Peacekeeper on the back of the Canadian $10 bill is obviously a female soldier.

  8. If you’re interested, here’s an op-ed piece I wrote about this:
    Banknotes hard to forge, but women missing

  9. Except that Insulin was discovered by two men, named Banting and Best. Genome sequencing, another Canadian triumph, is done with large automatic stepper machines and the pacemaker, also hinted at on the bill was made by a a Canadian man named John Hopps.

    So, who is the woman peering into a 1970s era microscope?

    Sure, put women on the money, but for THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS. Not because you want them to take credit for the work done by others.

  10. It is clear to me that no Canadian feminists were consulted before this post was put up, otherwise you wouldn’t be lauding a meaningless token picture of a female on the hundred when there is naked women on our new $20 and the “Famous Five” suffragettes have been removed from the $50 and replaced with a warship. Do better, Ms.

  11. that could just be a very effeminate man with a really cute bob cut.

    I really hope not, though.

  12. Lover Girl says:

    Please write more on feminism in Canada! Ms. is so American-centric and there’s a lot going on here! For instance a conservative MP was trying to bring up the abortion debate again and Harper actually said we’re not going into it again, also that a while back the conservatives were saying that they might change the laws so gay people that came to Canada to get legally married won’t be legally married anymore! Luka Magnotta I wish you would do an interview with the victims mom. Talk about the lack of action that has taken place since the feds apologized to the native people.

  13. Francis says:

    Sorry trying to imply a women invented insulin is WRONG. This is rewriting history by of implied thought without actually saying it. This rewriting of history on the 100 dollar banknote should be remedied immediately for correction. Fredrick Banting and Charles Best is not even mentioned on the banknote.

  14. The woman on the hundred dollar bill was first a picture of an Asian female scientist, but was changed to a “white” woman. Woman yes, but racist too.

  15. Beau ste croix says:

    There has already been a women on Canadian money. Princess Patricia – 1917…calm down feminists and do your research.

    • There should be more than one example from 100 hundred years. Women have contributed to Canada and should be represented, including our currency.

  16. Question: Why would Americans want to put Margaret Atwood on their currency? She is a Canadian author. She is an amazing author, but still a Canadian.

  17. Jeff in Calgary says:

    It is unfortunate that when ‘they’ decided to put a woman on the $100, they used a fake woman while celebrating an achievement made by 4 men. Too bad they didn’t use a real woman who had a real achievement.

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