We have read and heard about scientists in our science classes, but we are barely ever told about female scientists. Take a minute to recall all the women in science you know. Most of us can only name Madam Marie Curie. The truth is, for years, women have been making contributions to the STEM fields. Unfortunately, due to gender discrimination their work is not tossed around as much as that of men.
Below are facts about some amazing women.
Marie Curie (Duh!).
- Born in Poland in 1867, Madam Curie’s parents were teachers.
- She claims that her father is responsible for her interest in science.
- She was alive at a time when girls were forbidden from higher education. Marie took these courses in secret (underground informal classes!) from Floating University.
- Curie worked as a governess and a tutor to earn money for some time.
- During World War I, Marie Curie helped in saving around 1 million lives by creating mobile X-ray machines.
- She was initially ignored by the noble prize committee on gender basis. Her husband however wrote to them making Marie’s contributions to the research clear. Marie then became the first-ever woman to win a Noble Prize.
- She is the only person to this date who has won noble prizes in two different sciences. In physics for the discovery of radioactivity, and chemistry for discovering two new elements!
- Albert Einstein was the biggest fan of Marie herself! He is said to have helped her out of emotional traumas during one of the toughest years of her life.
- Curie’s notebook is still radioactive. It is preserved in a lead-lined box and is estimated to retain its radioactivity for another 1500 years.
- Since Curie had no idea about the dangers of radioactivity, she would use one such sample as a nightlight in her bedroom!
- She eventually died of aplastic anemia due to her exposure to radioactive elements.
- She was a mathematician born in Tehran in Iran in 1977.
- During her early years, Mariam dreamt of being a writer. It was only until high school that she discovered her passion for mathematics.
- In 1994, Mariam became the first-ever Iranian to win a gold medal in the International Mathematics Olympiad. Scoring 41 out of a total of 42!
- “The more I spent time on mathematics, the more excited I became,” Mariam said while working for one of her researches.
- In 2014, Mirzakhani won the Fields award, one of the most prestigious medals in math.
- In 2015, she took part in the Olympiad again, attaining a perfect score and hence winning a second Gold medal!
- She died in 2017 losing a battle to cancer. Her work however has advanced math in an innovative direction.
- Vera Rubin was an American astronomer whose worked confirmed the existence of dark matter.
- As a young girl, Vera was always fascinated by the stars. She would prefer gazing at the sky over sleeping.
- She became the first-ever woman to formally peek through the telescopes at the Palomar observatory.
- Rubin devoted her life and made efforts to fight for Women in Science. She has inspired a lot of female astronomers to follow her steps.
- Though well earned, Vera never received a Nobel prize.
- She died in 2016 in New Jersey.
- Her mother was a teacher and her father a lumberman.
- Johnson was a prodigy who completed her high school at the age of 14. She graduated from college when she was 18.
- She played a very important role in making project mercury a success. By calculating backward, she helped put Alan Shepard, the first American in space, into the earth’s orbit.
- During the Apollo years, Katherine helped in bringing the astronauts back home.
- Other than 28 scientific papers, Katherine was the co-author of one of the first books on space.
- She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.
- There is a NASA research center named after her due to her contributions to the space agency.
- Katherine was honored by Mattel, who on International Women’s Day 2018, released Barbie figures of her to inspire young girls.
- She died at the age of 101 in February 2020.
- Tierra Guinn has had a passion for STEM fields since she was a child.
- Even during her studies, Tierra worked at NASA helping build powerful rockets! (She had not even graduated at that time!)
- She studied from MIT and graduated with a perfect 5.0 GPA in Aerospace Engineering.
- In 2018, Guinn won the Most Promising Engineer award.
- She also won the Industry award at the 2019 Black Engineer of the year awards.