It’s no secret that FangirlNation celebrates women in science. In honor of the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we want to highlight some amazing women who helped change the face of science:
Henrietta Lacks– We want to honor Henrietta Lacks, whose cells continually used in the scientific community decades after her death from cervical cancer. Her family to this day has never seen a dime for the cells that were taken from this woman of color, and yet her cells have saved countless lives as they’ve contributed to major discoveries for medical cures.
Ada Lovelace– Lovelace’s mother had her study the arts and sciences to avoid any connection with her father Lord Byron. This interest in mathematics lead to her working with Charles Babbage on his analytical engine. This lead to the card system which helped create modern computing. We have a lot to thank Ada Lovelace for.
Stephanie Kwolek– This chemist was one of the very few women who first worked for Dupont and she invented Kevlar. She won many awards and helped create lightweight fibers that lead to lighter tires during gas shortages.
Dr. France A. Córdova– Dr. Córdova is the first Latina women to serve as the director of the National Science Foundation. She previously was the chief scientist for NASA, and has been well known for her work in physics and astronomy.
Asima Chatterjee-Chatterjee was a beloved Indian chemist focusing on organic chemistry and phytochemistry (deriving chemicals from plants). Her most famous contribution was research on vinca alkaloids, which was deriving chemicals from the periwinkle plant to provide anti-cancer properties. She contributed heavily to the creation of anti-epileptic and anti-malarial drugs. Charrerjee created a large volume of work on medicinal plants for the Indian subcontinent.
Maryam Mirzakhani– Mirzakhani was the first women, and the first Iranian, to win the coveted Fields Medal for mathematics. Her research focused on the dynamics of geometric surfaces, the “Magic Wand Theorem,” and other mathematical findings that made her outstanding in her field. She died of breast cancer in 2011.
Dorothy Vaughn– You may remember Dorothy Vaughn portrayed by Octavia Spencer in the film Hidden figures. She radically changed the fact of the West Computing officer for NACA. She was so amazing as a FORTRAN programmer and for her judge of character that engineers would come to her to request which “girls” would work best to compute numbers on individual projects. She contributed to the Scout Launch Vehicle project. She worked alongside the now better known “hidden figures” Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, Eunice Smith, and Kathryn Peddrew.
There are many women who have made a difference in science, but we can always use more. You can make a difference in science. Tell us who your hero is in the comments.
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Women of color in science: