women in science


Female scientists are facing daily challenges. However, we need to remember the pioneers. Because these women are empowering and motivating the present and future women in science.

As a female scientist myself I can relate to any of the women in science. Although as women, they are already facing issues such as the pay gap and sexual harassment. 

However, being female scientists, they face challenges in other issues. Hence they come across a lack of job opportunities. This is the same as any profession which is dominated by men.    

But we must not forget where we were and how much we have achieved. So we should celebrate that we have more opportunities now than in the past. 

Firstly women now have the right to education. Even in developing countries, the percentage is constantly increasing. Secondly, women are not a minority in studying science. 

However, women have a lower possibility of finding a job as scientists. Therefore we have still a long way to reach gender equality.  

In order to honor the women in science, we are listing five women who were the pioneers and shaped the present.

Marie Skłodowska Curie, physicist, and chemist, the lead pioneer of the female scientists

Marie was Polish and she was born in 1867. Furthermore, she was a naturalized-French and she was known for her research on radioactivity.

She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win twice: in Chemistry and in Physics. In addition, she was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris. Her achievements made history and she is one of the most famous among female scientists.  

Finally, she died in 1934 due to her exposure to radiation while her scientific work and while her work at field hospitals during World War I.

Despite her many achievements she was known to be humble. Furthermore, she was generous having shared all her earnings from Nobel Prizes. 

Her legacy is an important scientific work that changes the world and shapes the world of the 21st century. European Union honors her by naming with her nameThe Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions fellowship program for young scientists wishing to work in a foreign country.

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, virologist 

Françoise Barré-Sinoussi was born in 1947. She is a French virologist and director of the Regulation of Retroviral Infections Division and Professor at the Institut Pasteur in Paris, France.

France’s work is mainly in the identification of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of AIDS. In 2008, she and her former mentor were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for their discovery of HIV.

Therefore she has a lot of experience working in developing nations with the World Health Organization. Her collaboration with Africa and Asia led to exchanges and workshops between young scientists from resource-limited countries and researchers in Paris.

She retired from research in 2017. However, she is currently serving as Co-Chair of the International AIDS Society, working toward an HIV cure initiative.

Certain people – men, of course – discouraged me, saying [science] was not a good career for women. That pushed me even more to persevere.

Françoise Barré

Sally Ride, physicist, and astronaut

Sally Kristen Ride was born in Los Angeles in 1951 and died in 2012 of cancer. She joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983.

In addition, she is still the youngest American astronaut to travel to space, at the age of 32. 

After leaving NASA in 1987, she co-founded the Sally Ride Science, a company that creates entertaining science programs and publications for school students, with a particular focus on girls.

Marie Tharp, geologist, and oceanographic cartographer

Marie Tharp was born in 1920 and she was an American geologist and oceanographic cartographer.

She and Bruce Heezen created the first scientific map of the Atlantic Ocean floor. Her’s work led to the acceptance of the theories of plate tectonics and continental drift.

Marie’s leap into a career in earth sciences is extraordinary. This is because less than 4% of all earth sciences doctorates were awarded to women at this time.

Finally, she died of cancer in 2006. 

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson, Physicist, mathematician

Katherine Johnson was born in 1918 and is an African-American mathematician. 

She made tremendous contributions to the United States’ aeronautics and space programs with the early application of digital electronic computers at NASA. Therefore she conducted technical work at NASA for 35 years.

During this time, she calculated the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency backup return paths for many flights from Project Mercury, including the early NASA missions of Alan Shepard and John Glenn, and the 1969 Apollo 11 flight to the Moon. Moreover, she also made calculations for the plans for a mission to Mars.

In 2016, Katherine, along with Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, were all featured in the film Hidden Figures. It portrays Katherine’s work at NASA, and she strangles in her profession as a woman of color. 

Finally, there are many books published that portrayed more female scientists. Here are just a few that worth your interest:

If we want scientists and engineers in the future, we should be cultivating the girls as much as the boys.

Sally Ride

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With love…for science,


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