Daniel Halliday
Feb 11 · Last update 15 hr. ago.

Who are the most important women of science?

Women remain underrepresented in science; despite this some women have made massive contributions to this field in many varied ways. The 11th of February is the International day of women and girls in science to recognise the role women have played in the history of science. So who are these important women and what did they contribute to science? en.unesco.org/commemorations/womenandgirlinscienceday
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Marie Curie
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Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider
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Jane Goodall
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Grace Hopper
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Dorothy Hodgkin
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Mary Anning
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Barbara McClintock
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Margaret Hamilton
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Lise Meitner
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Caroline Hershel
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Marie Curie

Probably science’s most genuine female pioneer is Marie Curie, a Polish Chemist, pioneer on radioactivity and the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, one of only four people to ever be awarded a Nobel Prize twice and the first female professor at the Sorbonne of the University of Paris. Curie shared the Nobel Prize with Henri Becquerel in 1903 for pioneering research on radiation and X-rays, and later became the only woman to win a second time in 1911, with the Nobel Prize in Chemistry being awarded to Curie in recognition of her discovery of the chemical elements polonium and radium. She became the first female professor at the University of Paris in 1906 after being devastated and spurred on by her husband’s death, she was offered his post at the university, at a time when women were not even previously allowed to speak at the University.

ilab.org/articles/marie-curie-woman-firsts todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/11/four-people-have-won-the-nobel-prize-twice

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 19
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Elizabeth Blackburn and Carol W. Greider

Blackburn and Greider, along with colleague Jack W. Szostak, won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. Their studies conducted at the Harvard Medical School demonstrated how telomeres and telomerase affects the lifespan of mammalian cells and regulate the cell development rate in embryos. This prize-winning research is seen as massively influential on further cellular ageing research and represents a massive breakthrough on issues that may lead to advances for health, genetic disease, stem cell and longevity research.

embryo.asu.edu/pages/elizabeth-blackburn-carol-greider-and-jack-szostaks-telomere-and-telomerase-experiments-1982

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 9
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Jane Goodall

Goodall is a famous Anthropologist and Primatologist, and is the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Having established her expertise through a monumental 55-year long field-study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania, Goodall was the first person to witness and record chimpanzees using tools in the wild. Still working at the age of 85 Goodall now advocates for conservation and animal welfare internationally having established numerous organisations to promote conservation, such as the Jane Goodall Institute and the Root & Shoots organisation.

web.archive.org/web/20100810013437/http://www.biography.com/articles/Jane-Goodall-9542363 nationalgeographic.org/education/channel/jane-goodall

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Daniel Halliday
Sep 9
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Grace Hopper

Both a major pioneer in computer science and a rear admiral in the United States Navy, Grace Hopper reinvented computer coding, utilising English words in machine coding for the first time to make the process more user friendly and accessible. Through her time developing the early UNIVAC I computer, she developed the first programming language based on English words, she released a similar language called FLOW-MATIC which went on to become the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), one of the most widely used languages. Her contributions to computer science are so important Hopper has a Naval Destroyer named after her, a college in Yale University named after her, had 40 honorary degrees from universities internationally, various other medals and awards and even coined the term “debugging”.

famousscientists.org/grace-murray-hopper

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Daniel Halliday
May 24
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Dorothy Hodgkin

As a chemist Hodgkin pioneered research in deducing and modelling the structure of complex organic molecules in a process known as X-ray crystallography. Hodgkin’s interest in chemical structures stemmed from her childhood when she first read of X-rays being used to “see” atoms and molecules in “Concerning the Nature of Things” (Henry Bragg). Hodgkin later studied at Oxford and Cambridge in the UK where she used the relatively new technology of X-ray crystallography on organic compounds to determine the structure of penicillin and insulin. She went on to become the third woman to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for her work in determining the structure of the most chemically complex vitamin, Vitamin B12, in 1964, and became involved in various humanitarian efforts involving scientists and the sciences.

sciencehistory.org/historical-profile/dorothy-crowfoot-hodgkin

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 24
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Mary Anning

An early Palaeontologist, Mary Anning grew up in Lyme Regis in the United Kingdom, near cliffs filled Jurassic fossils in a time where fossil collecting was transitioning from a hobby into a science in the late 19th and early 20th century, and Anning had a large role to play in that. Anning supported herself selling fossils but later assisted renowned geologists and palaeontologists with digs in the region, at a time when women were not even allowed to vote and working class people were rarely given credit for fossil discoveries. Having made numerous discoveries it was Anning’s Plesiosaur specimens that proved to be key scientific evidence for extinction, and various specimens lead to George Cuvier’s, at the time controversial, suggestion that there had been a historic “age of reptiles”. The massive amount of specimens and evidence Anning acquired was often used and quoted without reference in her lifetime and it was only following her death that light was shed on her story with a book compiled by Charles Darwin.

famousscientists.org/mary-anning

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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Barbara McClintock

Through dedicating her life to scientific research Barbara McClintock discovered genetic transposition by producing the first map of the maize genome becoming the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983. McClintock’s discoveries were only recognised around the late stages of her career and following her retirement, through the discovery of genes being transposed to different positions on a chromosome in bacteria and yeast by different researchers. Such observations have been vital in scientists understanding of the mechanisms of genes in the process of genetic evolution and McClintock was awarded a variety of awards and honours, even having a McClintock Prize named in her honour.

nobelprize.org/prizes/medicine/1983/mcclintock/biographical

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Daniel Halliday
Apr 1
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Margaret Hamilton

Hamilton was a programmer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when the University entered into their first contract with NASA’s Apollo program, she assumed position as lead Software Engineer for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. The source code for the flight software of the Apollo 11 mission was comprised of thousands of lines of assembly language programming stored on core rope memory, an esoteric low-level programming language stored on a series of ferrite core transformers. Hamilton went on to start software companies throughout the 70’s and 80’s, and was awarded special recognition from NASA in 2003 and the presidential Medal of Freedom by United States President Barak Obama in 2016 amongst others awards. nasa.gov/feature/margaret-hamilton-apollo-software-engineer-awarded-presidential-medal-of-freedom apolloartifacts.com/2008/01/rope-memory-mod.html

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 12
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Lise Meitner

Meitner was a Jewish Physicist who was the first woman to become a full professor of physics in Germany, and was one of a few scientists to discover the nuclear fission reaction of uranium when studying its radioactive decay. She lost her position at the Kaiser Wilheim Institute in Berlin due to the Nazi occupation in 1945, and fled to Sweden. The Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to another scientist for the nuclear fission research Meitner was involved with in 1944. Following her death she received many posthumous honours, as a result of the injustice of her not being included in the 1944 Nobel Prize, and even has a chemical element named after her, meitnerium.

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Daniel Halliday
Mar 1
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Caroline Hershel

As one of the first female astronomers of history, Caroline Hershel started work in the field by assisting her brother, but she became increasingly interested and following his marriage she continued to make her own discoveries independently. Due to this independent work she became the first woman to be paid for scientific research in an era when men were rarely paid for investigative science also. Her work, a record of around 500 new nebulae which she to a structured list of 2500 celestial objects, formed the basis for the New General Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars, the catalogue of all known objects of space that is still in use today.

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Daniel Halliday
Feb 11
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