women in science

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin and the Composition of Stars

On May 10, 1900, British–American astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was born. She was the first to apply laws of atomic physics to the study of the temperature and density of stellar bodies, and the first to conclude that hydrogen and helium are the two most common elements in the universe. It was another 20 years before Payne’s original claim was confirmed, by Fred Hoyle. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin – Early Years Cecilia…
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Margaret Mead and Modern Anthropology

Margaret Mead and Modern Anthropology

On December 16, 1901, American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead was born. She was both a popularizer of the insights of anthropology into modern American and Western culture and a respected, often controversial, academic anthropologist. Her reports about the attitudes towards sex in South Pacific and Southeast Asian traditional cultures amply informed the 1960s sexual revolution. Maggie was a short little lady with immense courage-a first of a kind-took nothing for granted and…
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Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

Annie Jump Cannon and the Catalogue of Stars

On December 11, 1863, American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon was born. Her cataloging work was instrumental in the development of contemporary stellar classification. With Edward C. Pickering, she is credited with the creation of the Harvard Classification Scheme, which was the first serious attempt to organize and classify stars based on their temperatures. “A life spent in the routine of science need not destroy the attractive human element of a woman’s nature.” —…
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Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz – Educator and Naturalist

Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz – Educator and Naturalist

On December 5, 1822, American educator and naturalist Elizabeth Cabot Agassiz was born. A researcher of natural history, she was a contributing author to many scientific published works with her husband, Louis Agassiz. Elisabeth Cabot Agassiz received no formal education but it is assumed that she was taught at home and studied languages as well as drawing, music, and reading. She started socializing with intellectuals after her sister got married to Harvard’s…
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Ellen Swallow Richards and Home Economics

Ellen Swallow Richards and Home Economics

On December 3, 1842, American chemist Ellen Henrietta Swallow Richards was born. She was the foremost female industrial and environmental chemist in the United States during the 19th century. Her pioneering work in sanitary engineering and experimental research in domestic science widened professional opportunities for women in the sciences and laid a foundation for the new science of home economics. Richard was educated at home, since both of her parents were trained…
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Christine Ladd-Franklin and the Theory of Colour Vision

Christine Ladd-Franklin and the Theory of Colour Vision

On December 1, 1847, American psychologist, logician, and mathematician Christine Ladd-Franklin was born. She is known for contributions to the theory of color vision accounting for the development of man’s color sense which countered the established views of Helmholtz, Young, and Hering. Her position was that color-sense developed in stages. Christine Ladd-Franklin – Early Years Christine Ladd was born in Windsor, Connecticut, to Eliphalet Ladd, a merchant, and Augusta Niles Ladd. She began…
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Dorothea Erxleben – Germany’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dorothea Erxleben – Germany’s First Female Medical Doctor

Dorothea Christiane Erxleben (1715 – 1762) On November 13, 1715, Dorothea Christiane Erxleben, first female medical doctor in Germany was born. It was very hard for her to overcome the prejudices of the University professors and to finish her studies with a proper examination. What is even worse is that it should take until 1901 that the second woman in Germany was able to make her exams as a doctor. Already Erxleben’s father was a doctor in…
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Florence Sabin – Preparing the Ground for Women in Medical Science

Florence Sabin – Preparing the Ground for Women in Medical Science

Florence Sabin (1871 – 1953) On November 9, 1871, American medical scientist Florence Rena Sabin was born. She was a pioneer for women in science. She was the first woman to hold a full professorship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the first woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and the first woman to head a department at the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research. Florence Sabin was born in Colorado, but grew…
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Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

Maria Goeppert Mayer and the Nuclear Shell Model

On June 28, 1906, German-born Physicist Maria Goeppert Mayer was born. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for proposing the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus. She was the second female Nobel laureate in physics, after Marie Curie. “Mathematics began to seem too much like puzzle solving. Physics is puzzle solving, too, but of puzzles created by nature, not by the mind of man.” — Maria Goeppert-Mayer, as quoted…
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From Ambition to Obsession – Jane Franklin and the Lost Franklin Expedition

From Ambition to Obsession – Jane Franklin and the Lost Franklin Expedition

On December 4, 1791, Lady Jane Franklin, Tasmanian pioneer, traveler and second wife of the explorer Sir John Franklin, was born. She was the first woman to climb Mount Wellington and to travel overland from Melbourne to Sydney. Above all Lady Franklin is remembered for the search she organized from 1850 to 1857 for Sir John Franklin’s lost Arctic expedition. Early Years Jane Franklin was born as Jane Griffin, the second daughter…
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