16 Amazing women who have torn down barriers in the wide world of sports

Jan 21, 2016 at 11:33 a.m. ET
Woman jumping over hurdle
Image: Tetra Images - Erik Isakson/Getty Images

In a world where stereotypes run rampant, females are typically seen as weaker, slower and less athletic than most men. It's recorded all throughout history textbooks — women have been confined to a life spent baking cakes and caring for their children while the men are busy bringing home the bacon.

Thankfully, the times they are a-changin'. Now women can be the breadwinner and the game winner. We owe some of this progress to a handful of fearless women who weren't afraid to tear down those stereotypes by entering the male-dominated world of sports. They refused to just stay indoors to play with Barbie dolls and paint their nails when they were young, because they realized the lifetime benefits of playing a sport as a girl. 

Already 2016 is shaping up to be a big year for barrier-breaking women like this in the sports world. In January, Kathryn Smith made sports history when she was hired as the first full-time female coach in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. Smith has more than a decade of pro football experience under her belt, and we are confident she'll be "woman" enough for the job.

In honor of the past and present strides that have been made, we've compiled a group of women who made a name for themselves in sports, leaving broken gender barriers in their wake. They're awesome role models and just badasses in general because they weren't afraid to show the boys that they can throw, kick, run and hit just as well (and maybe even better) than them. Step aside, men, because these women can probably teach you a thing or two about sports.

Updated by Bethany Ramos on 1/21/2016

1 /16: Kathryn Smith

1/16 :Kathryn Smith

2 /16: Jennifer Welter

2/16 :Jennifer Welter

3 /16: Babe Didrikson Zaharias

Image: Underwood Archives/Getty Images

3/16 :Babe Didrikson Zaharias

4 /16: Manon Rhéaume

4/16 :Manon Rhéaume

5 /16: Becky Hammon

Becky Hammon NBA
Image: Kitra Cahana/Getty Images

5/16 :Becky Hammon

6 /16: Jayne Kennedy

Jayne Kennedy sportscaster
Image: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

6/16 :Jayne Kennedy

7 /16: Georgia Frontiere

Image: George Rose/Getty Images

7/16 :Georgia Frontiere

8 /16: Wilma Rudolph

Wilma Rudolph runner
Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

8/16 :Wilma Rudolph

9 /16: Ann Meyers Drysdale

Image: Jeff Golden/Getty Images

9/16 :Ann Meyers Drysdale

10 /16: Janet Guthrie

Janet Guthrie race car driver
Image: Susan Wood/Getty Images

10/16 :Janet Guthrie

11 /16: Lesley Visser

Lesley Visser sportscaster
Image: Jim Rogash/Getty Images

11/16 :Lesley Visser

12 /16: Melissa Mayeux

12/16 :Melissa Mayeux

13 /16: Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King tennis player
Image: Getty Images

13/16 :Billie Jean King

14 /16: Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas football official
Image: Mark Cunningham/Getty Images

14/16 :Sarah Thomas

15 /16: Mo'ne Davis

Mo'ne Davis Little League World Series
Image: Rob Carr/Getty Images

15/16 :Mo'ne Davis

16 /16: Teresa Phillips

16/16 :Teresa Phillips