Behind every great man there's a great woman


      • recognition and appreciation
        Acknowledge the important role and contribution of women in the success and achievements of men

      • support and partnership
        Emphasize the idea that men and women work together as a team, with the woman providing valuable support and assistance to the man's endeavors

      • inequality and sexism
        Highlight the societal issue of women being overlooked and undervalued despite their significant contributions to society

    Examples of Behind every great man there's a great woman

    • Albert Einstein was one of the most brilliant scientists of the 20th century. His groundbreaking theories and discoveries revolutionized the world of physics. However, it is often overlooked that behind this esteemed figure was his equally brilliant wife, Mileva Maric. As a fellow physicist and teacher, Maric played a significant role in Einstein's intellectual development, providing support and encouragement along the way. It is clear that behind every great man, there is a great woman.

      This idiom emphasizes the importance and influence of the opposite-sex partner in the success and achievements of a prominent individual. It does not negate the contributions of the individual themselves, but rather acknowledges the significant impact and support that their significant other provided. In the case of Albert Einstein, Mileva Maric's contribution to his success was crucial in shaping him into the towering figure that he became in the field of physics.

    • Oprah Winfrey is a media mogul, philanthropist, and cultural icon. Her name is synonymous with success and impact in the entertainment and media industries. Behind this empowered figure, however, was her longtime partner and business manager, Stedman Graham. Graham was crucial to the development and growth of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), and has been a steady source of support for Winfrey through both her personal and professional tribulations. As Winfrey herself puts it, "Behind every successful woman is herself." Even so, it is undeniable that the support and assistance from Graham has been a crucial component of Winfrey's success.

      This idiom can also be applied to prominent women, highlighting the importance of self-empowerment and autonomy, but not relegating the role of a significant other in supporting their success. In Oprah Winfrey's case, Stedman Graham has been instrumental in many aspects of her career and personal life, serving as a steady guiding force as she navigates the challenges and triumphs of her renowned career.

    • In the world of politics, Margaret Thatcher, the first female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, leaves behind a legacy that is unparalleled. However, it was not all smooth sailing for Thatcher. Throughout her career, she faced numerous obstacles and challenges, from opposition within her own party to external pressures from various groups. Amidst these trials, her husband, Denis Thatcher, provided a stabilizing force, providing support when it was most needed. It is indeed true that behind every great woman, there is a great man.

      While this idiom is predominantly associated with women who have found success, behind the scenes, it is often the unwavering support and encouragement of a significant other that contributes to their achievements. In Margaret Thatcher's case, Denis Thatcher's faith in her abilities and unfailing support allowed her to persevere in the face of adversity and rise to the top of her field. This idiom highlights the importance of a supportive partner in the success of a prominent individual, reinforcing the idea that true success is a collaborative effort.

    • Sheryl Sandberg, a prominent executive and author, has made a significant impact in the world of business and tech. However, it is often forgotten that she was primarily influenced by her late father, who instilled in her a strong work ethic and a desire to achieve excellence. Sandberg has spoken openly about her father's impact on her career and personal growth, acknowledging that without his guidance and support, she may not have been as successful as she is today. Behind every great man or woman, there is a great influence, whether it be a parent, a mentor, a partner, or a close friend.

      This idiom can be extended beyond romantic relationships, highlighting the significance of a variety of significant figures who have played a role in an individual's success. Sheryl Sandberg's father undoubtedly played an integral role in shaping her career path and instilling in her the values that have contributed to her success. This idiom emphasizes the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the contributions of significant others, both romantic and platonic, in shaping the success of prominent individuals.

    • Steve Jobs, the co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc, is recognized as a visionary entrepreneur who changed the world of technology. Behind this great man, there was a great woman, who was the driving force in his personal and professional life. Steve Jobs' wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, was his confidante, advisor, and motivator. She supported him during his difficult times like his ousting from Apple in 1985 and his battle against cancer. Powell Jobs is also an accomplished philanthropist, businesswoman, and education reformer.

      This example illustrates how the idiom 'Behind every great man there's a great woman' refers to the woman who plays a significant role in supporting and contributing to the success of a great man in various aspects of his life. In Steve Jobs' case, his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, was his rock and champion who believed in him, even during his darkest hours.

    • Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India, was a legendary freedom fighter who led India's independence movement. Behind this great man, there was a great woman, whom Gandhi called his 'soulmate.' Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay, also known as Kasturba Gandhi, was Gandhi's wife, who shared his beliefs, values, and commitment to social reforms. Kasturba Gandhi was an activist, women's rights advocate, and political campaigner.

      This example highlights how the idiom 'Behind every great man there's a great woman' is not limited to just wives but can also refer to anyone, be it a mother, sister, or daughter, who has a significant impact on a man's achievements. Kasturba Gandhi was not just Gandhi's wife but his companion, confidante, and co-worker in his vision of social and political reforms.

    • Albert Einstein, the renowned physicist, is widely recognized as a genius who changed our understanding of the universe. Behind this great man, there was a great woman who provided him with love, encouragement, and intellectual stimulation. Mileva Maric, a Serbian physicist, was Einstein's first wife and collaborator. Maric studied physics with Einstein in Zurich, where they fell in love and got married. Maric was also a working scientist, who contributed to Einstein's scientific papers and research.

      This example exemplifies how the term 'Behind every great man there's a great woman' can also be interpreted as 'by the side of' or 'working alongside' a great man. Mileva Maric's role in Einstein's scientific achievements was significant, and she deserves recognition for her contributions, which are often overlooked due to societal and historical biases.


    This idiom has multiple meanings, with each one highlighting different aspects of the relationship between men and women. It can be used to recognize and appreciate women's contributions, emphasize the importance of support and partnership between genders, and bring attention to issues of inequality and sexism.

    Origin of "Behind every great man there's a great woman"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to ancient Greece, where it was believed that every successful man had a woman behind him providing guidance and support. In the 19th century, the phrase was popularized by the French author Alexandre Dumas, who wrote "Behind every great man there's a great woman" in one of his novels.

    Over time, the idiom has evolved to take on different meanings and interpretations. It has been used in literature, speeches, and media to acknowledge the crucial role of women in the success of men. However, it has also been criticized for perpetuating gender stereotypes and downplaying the individual achievements of women.

    Today, the idiom is still widely used and debated, with some viewing it as a compliment and others as a reinforcement of gender roles and inequality. While its origins may stem from a time when women were not given equal recognition, the idiom continues to be relevant and often sparks discussions about gender dynamics and representation.