Bān Zhāo (45-116 CE) (Chinese: 班昭; Wade–Giles: Pan Chao, fl. 1st century), courtesy name Huiban (惠班), was the first female Chinese historian. She was married to a local resident Cao Shishu at the age of fourteen, and was called in the court by the name as Venerable Madame Cao (曹大家). She was the daughter of the famous historian Ban Biao and younger sister of the general Ban Chao and of historian Ban Gu author of the history of the Western Han, a book known in modern times as the Book of Han. She completed his book as he was imprisoned and executed in the year 92 BCE. because of his association with the family of Empress Dowager Dou. It was said her works could have filled eight volumes.
Ban Zhao wrote the Lessons for Women. Despite Ban Zhao's education and accomplishments this book generally advised women to be submissive and accept that their husbands can have concubines while as wives they must remain faithful, although the book does indicate women should be as well-educated as her so they can better serve their husbands. A modern revisionist theory states that the book is a guide to teach women how to avoid scandal in youth so they can survive long enough to become a powerful dowager. She also wrote poetry and essays and became China's most famous female scholar.
She was the grandniece of the notable scholar and poet Consort Ban.
Ban Zhao crater on Venus is named after her.