Sunday 11 Feb marks International Celebration of Women and Girls in Science Day…
Scientific careers are part of a group of industries known as STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Most STEM industries and work environments are male dominated, with women making up just over 29% of the STEM workforce. This is why there’s such a big push to encourage women and girls interested in STEM subjects to continue pursuing a career in this field.
Women have played massive roles in scientific advancements throughout history, with some contributions often overlooked.
I’ve put together a list of just a few of the fantastic female science pioneers. If you have any that you want to share with me, feel free to drop me an email (Emma) and tell me about any women in science that inspire you.
Interested in a career in science?
At Careers Worcs we can help you with advice and guidance if you’re interested in a career in the sciences (or any career to be honest!) so why not make an appointment to pop in and see us down at our HQ in The Hive, Worcester.
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Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)
Marie Curie was a Polish scientist who specialised in chemistry and physics. She is famously remembered for her discovery of radium and polonium and her contributions to the discovery of cancer treatments.
Curie won two Nobel Prizes:
In 1903, Curie, her husband, and other researchers won a Nobel Prize for research on radioactivity. Curie then won her second Prize in 1911 for her contributions to chemistry and developing a way to measure radioactivity.
Even after winning two Nobel Prizes, Curie continued with her research. During the First World War, she developed a portable X-ray machine to detect and diagnose injuries on the battlefield.
To learn more about Marie Curie, click here to read more about her life as a scientist!
Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake (1840 – 1912)
Sophia Jex-Blake was an English physician, teacher, and feminist.
She led a campaign to allow women to study medicine and (along with 6 other women) became known as The Edinburgh 7 who successfully petitioned for a place. She graduated and became the first practicing female doctor in Scotland and one of the first across the broader UK.
Afterwards she founded the London School of Medicine for Women, which became the only place a woman could earn a medical degree in the UK for years.
While her medical accomplishments and her pioneering role are often cited, an important aspect of her life is rarely mentioned, in that she was a lesbian.
Learn more about Sophia here.
Marie Van Brittan Brown (1922 – 1999)
Marie Van Brittan Brown was an American nurse and inventor of the first home security system!
She invented the security system to monitor her home when she was both in and out, as she felt unsafe in her neighbourhood at night. Her original invention involved creating peepholes to place moveable cameras and a two-way microphone system. The cameras and microphones monitoring the doors meant that Brown could speak to the person outside. If that person was an intruder, Brown could notify the police by pushing a button.
Brown and her husband filed a patent for the system in 1966, giving them legal ownership of the invention. This invention inspired many modern home security creations and was the first CCT (closed-circuit television) system.
Lise Meitner (1878-1968)
Meitner was an Austrian physicist and co-discovered Nuclear Fission with Otto Hahn (a German physicist).
Their friendship began in 1905 after Meitner graduated from the University of Vienna and moved to Berlin to continue her research into radioactivity and physics. Meitner continued to work with Hahn even when, in 1938, the War forced her to flee Germany.
Even though they spent decades studying nuclear fission, once they’d discovered and Meitner tested the theory repeatedly, Hahn published the findings under his name. In 1944, Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize for discovering Nuclear Fission, whilst Meitner’s contribution was ignored. Even though Meitner’s involvement was found by the award givers at the Nobel Prize Academy a year later, they voted to ignore her contributions. Even today, the only official recognition of Meitner’s involvement in discovering nuclear fission was naming element 109 after her in 1992.
Upcoming Careers Talk 📢
Stay tuned for a fantastic careers talk featuring women in science. You can view our Careers Talks here!
Thank for reading!
1 According to a 2023 Government study, which you can read here.
2 Nuclear Fissions are reactions involving a nucleus splitting into smaller nuclei. Learn more (or refresh your memory) about nuclear fission here: www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zx86y4j/revision/1