Women's History Month
7 Amazing Facts and Books About Female Science Pioneers
Although it's true that women are underrepresented in STEM fields, female scientists have been making breakthroughs for centuries. Marrying innovation with tenacity, female scientists have discovered comets, created cutting edge computer codes, and inspired generations of curious young people to push the boundaries of human knowledge. And they've done this all while challenging gender stereotypes. Here are some facts you may not have known about incredible female scientists—and the books about them that you must read.
When you think DNA, you probably think of Watson and Crick. Yet, the discovery was in large part also that of Rosalind Franklin, a biophysicist and X-Ray crystallographer. Her premature death at the age of 37 made her ineligible to win the Nobel Prize alongside her compatriots, but her work revolutionized the field of genetics.
What to Read: Rosalind Franklin: The Dark Lady of DNA by Brenda Maddox
Sally Ride was the first American woman to go to space. At a time when only 3% of PhD candidates in physics were women, she began attending Stanford and was eventually recruited to NASA. Two flights later, her pioneering role has inspired young scientists across the country.
What to Read: Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space by Lynn Sherr
You know Marie Curie, but her daughter Irène also won a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935. With her husband Frédéric, she discovered artificial radioactivity, making she and Marie Curie the first mother-daughter pair to separately win Nobel Prizes.
What to Read: Marie Curie and Her Daughters: The Private Lives of Science's First Family by Shelley Emling
Ada Lovelace called herself a "poetical scientist." The daughter of Lord Byron, she created algorithims for Charles Babbage's early computer, the Analytical Machine. She's considered by some to be the world's first computer programmer.
What to Read: The Bride of Science by Benjamin Woolley
The first woman ever to earn a medical degree in the United States, Elizabeth Blackwell pushed for reforms in education, medicine, and women's rights. Later, her sister Emily would become the third American woman to graduate from medical school.
What to Read: Elizabeth Blackwell: America's First Female Doctor by Barbara A. Somervill
Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to make a space mission in 1992. A graduate of Cornell Medical School, she also worked as Peace Corps doctor in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
What to Read: Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life by Mae Jemison
Caroline Herschel was one half of perhaps the greatest brother-sister science duo of all time. While William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, Caroline Hershel became the first woman to discover a comet. She would discover seven more during her lifetime.
What to Read: Discoverers of the Universe: William and Caroline Herschel by Michael A. Hoskin