7 female scientists that changed the face of the world

Responsible Business | Feb 11, 2018


Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. “Marie Curie

 Science and gender equality are both vital for sustainable development. Throughout history women have been blocked from entering into the world of science, while their achievements have often been undermined by their male counterparts. Women and girls continue to be excluded from participating fully in science: less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women.

Tackling some of the greatest challenges of the Agenda for Sustainable Development – from improving health to combatting climate change – will rely on harnessing all talent. That means getting more women working in these fields. The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, celebrated each year on 11 February, was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

With this in mind we have put together a list of 7 Scientific Women That Changed The Face Of The World.

1. Marie Curie

Photo Credit: Wellcome Collection

Marie Curie was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, which she shared in 1903 with her husband, Pierre Curie, and Henri Becquerel, for their research on radioactivity. She would take home the award again in 1911 – this time on her own – for her work with radium, making her the only person in history to win a Nobel Prize in two sciences (physics and chemistry). Marie’s research was of vital importance in the development of x-rays in surgery.

2. Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin helped us understand some of the most basic building blocks of our bodies, using X-ray diffraction to discover the shape of DNA and molecular structure. A British biophysicist whose photographic research helped uncover the double helix shape of DNA and deliver Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

3. Jane Goodall

Photo Credit: Flickr

British primatologist and anthropologist, Jane Goodall (pictured above), is widely considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees. Before her research scientists believed that only humans had the intelligence to make their own tools.  She climbed trees and mimicked the behavior of chimps in Tanzania to gain their trust and study them in their natural habitat. Today she travels the world, speaking about environmental crises, urging each of us to take action on behalf of all living things and planet we share.

4. Rita Levi-Montalcini

The Italian neurologist Rita Levi-Montalcini won a Nobel in 1986 for discovering what is known as Nerve growth factor. Human beings develop from a single cell that divides to form new cells. These new cells then also further divide and multiply. Her work on nerve growth led to discoveries and has provided a deeper understanding of medical problems like deformities, senile dementia and tumor diseases.

5. Elizabeth Blackwell

American physician Elizabeth Blackwell was the first woman to become a medical doctor in the United States. She had no idea how to become a physician, so she consulted with several physicians known who told her it was a fine idea, but impossible; it was too expensive, and such education was not available to women. She would go on to become an activist for poor women’s health, and went on to found a medical school for women in England.

6. Dorothy Hodgkin

After receiving her PhD from Cambridge University, Dorothy Hodgkin returned to Oxford University in 1934. She remained here for the rest of her career, achieving a host of brilliant discoveries in the field of molecular biology. Hodgkin’s most significant work was determining the structures of penicillin, insulin and vitamin B12, winning her the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1964.

7. Hedy Lamarr

Photo Credit: Headwear Association

Known in her heyday as “the most beautiful woman in the world”, Hedy Lamarr (pictured above) was also the inventor of the precursor to the type of wireless communications used today in mobile phones, GPS and wi-fi. The international beauty icon, along with co-inventor George Anthiel, developed the “spread spectrum” technology that would help galvanize the digital communications boom.


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