Now with that said, let’s take a look at some of the great things that women have done for science.
Florence Bascom (1862-1945)
Florence was the first woman and first geologist to receive a PhD from John Hopkins University. In 1896 she became the first woman scientist hired at the United States Geological Survey and pioneered the use of microscopes to study rocks and minerals. She taught at Bryn Mawr College for 33 years, inspiring hundreds of women to study geology.
Rachel Carson (1907-1962)
Rachel was a Marine Biologist and a writer who spent much of her time studying the dangers that pesticides have on our environment. After she graduated from Johns Hopkins, she joined the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries writing about fishing and the sea for radio programs. Because of her work, lethal pesticides were banned in the United States. In 1980, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924-2017)
Jewel was a cell biologist who received her masters degree and doctorate in cell physiology from New York University. She entered the National Cancer institute and spent much of her life studying chemotherapy and cancerous cells. In total, she published over 50 books and articles while simultaneously spending her time promoting programs that worked to increase interest in science for girls and minorities.
Maria Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934)
Maria was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize and to this day is still the only woman to be awarded two in separate fields. She was a physicist and chemist who spent much of her time studying radiation and is the discoverer of radium and polonium. Her choice not to patent her radium-isolation process allowed radiation research to flourish.
Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979)
Cecilia studied at Cambridge University, but did not receive a degree because the school did not award them to women at the time. She studied astronomy, and by studying the spectra of stars determined that hydrogen and helium are the most abundant elements in stars. She was the first woman chairperson of a department at Harvard University.
Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
Just like Cecilia, Rosalind studied at Cambridge but was not awarded a degree because she was a woman. But that didn’t stop her. She became a prominent biophysicist who frequently worked with x-ray technology. Her x-ray diffraction photographs helped with the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure.
Shirley Ann Jackson (1946-Present)
She was the first African American Woman to earn a doctorate at MIT, going on to become a theoretical physicist. She studied subatomic particles, specifically hadrons, at the Fermi National Laboratory. She is currently the president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame for her significant contributions as a distinguished scientist and advocate for science education.
If you want to help in the fight to create gender equality, think about donating to the Association of Women in Science.