Women in Science

Anne Anastasi and Psychological Testing of the Individual

Anne Anastasi and Psychological Testing of the Individual

On December 19, 1908, American psychologist Anne Anastasi was born. She is best known for her pioneering development of psychometrics. Her seminal work, Psychological Testing, remains a classic text in which she drew attention to the individual being tested and therefore to the responsibilities of the testers. She called for them to go beyond test scores, to search the assessed individuals’ history to help them to better understand their own results and…
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Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

Henrietta Swan Leavitt and the Light of the Cepheids

On July 4, 1868, American astronomer Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born. She is best known for her discovery of the relation between the luminosity and the period of Cepheid variable stars. Based on her luminosity-period relation for Cepheids, Edwin Hubble was able to determine that the universe is expanding. Henrietta Swan Leavitt – Early Years Henrietta Swan Leavitt was born in Lancaster, Massachusetts, as daughter among seven children of Congregational church minister…
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Catherine Furbish and the Native Flora of Maine

Catherine Furbish and the Native Flora of Maine

On May 19, 1834, American botanist Catherine Furbish was born. Furbish collected, classified and illustrated the native flora of Maine. She devoted over 60 years of her life, traveling thousands of miles throughout her home state and creating very accurate drawings and watercolour paintings of the plants she found. Catherine Furbish – Early Years Catherine Furbish was born on May 19, 1834 in Exeter, New Hampshire, U. S. A., the eldest child and only daughter…
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Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

Sofia Kovalevskaya – Mathematician and Writer

On January 15, 1850, Russian mathematician Sofia Kovalevskaya was born. Kovalevskaya was responsible for important original contributions to analysis, partial differential equations and mechanics, and the first woman appointed to a full professorship in Northern Europe. “Say what you know, do what you must, come what may.” — Sofia Kovaleveskaya, Motto on her paper “On the Problem of the Rotation of a Solid Body about a Fixed Point.” (1886) Sofia Kovalevskaya – Early…
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The underused Talents of Mary Somerville, Mathematician and Astronomer

The underused Talents of Mary Somerville, Mathematician and Astronomer

On December 26, 1780, Scottish science writer and polymath Mary Somerville was born. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel.[1] The word scientist was coined for her. Mary Somerville acquired her knowledge autodidactically and became well known as a science writer. “Astronomy affords the most extensive example of the connection of physical…
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Mary the Jewess and the Origins of Chemistry

Mary the Jewess and the Origins of Chemistry

Mary the Jewess (also known as Maria Prophetissima or Miriam the Prophetess) is a figure who first appeared in the works of the Gnostic Christian writer Zosimos of Panopolis, whose sources for this are not clear. On the basis of Zosimos’s comments, she lived between the first and third centuries A.D. She is credited with the invention of several kinds of chemical apparatus and is considered to be the first true alchemist of the…
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How Margaret Hamilton Helped Apollo 11 to Safely Land on the Moon

How Margaret Hamilton Helped Apollo 11 to Safely Land on the Moon

On August 17, 1936, American computer scientist, systems engineer, and business owner Margaret Hamilton was born. Hamilton was Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which developed on-board flight software for the Apollo space program. A Software Developer at MIT Margaret Elaine Heafield was born in Paoli, Indiana, USA, to Kenneth Heafield and Ruth Esther Heafield.  Hamilton graduated from Hancock High School in 1954 and received her B.Sc.…
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Mileva Marić – The Theory of Relativity and Missed Opportunities

Mileva Marić – The Theory of Relativity and Missed Opportunities

On December 19, 1875, Serbian physicist Mileva Marić, sometimes called Mileva Marić-Einstein, was born. Marić was the second woman to finish a full program of study of mathematics and physics at ETH Zurich, where she met her future husband Albert Einstein. When Einstein received the Nobel Prize in 1921 after their divorce, he transferred the prize money to Marić. The question whether (and if so, to what extent) Marić contributed to Einstein‘s…
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Laura Bassi – the first Woman with a University Chair

Laura Bassi – the first Woman with a University Chair

Between October 20 and October 29, 1711, Italian physicist and academic Laura Maria Caterina Bassi was born. Bassi is referred to as being the first woman to earn a professorship in physics at a university in Europe and is recognized as the first woman in the world to earn a university chair in a scientific field of studies. She contributed immensely to the field of science while also helping to spread the…
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Hertha Ayrton – Arc Lights and Ripples in the Sand

Hertha Ayrton – Arc Lights and Ripples in the Sand

On August 26, 1923, British engineer, mathematician, physicist and inventor Hertha Ayrton died of blood poisoning resulting from an insect bite. Known in adult life as Hertha Ayrton, born Phoebe Sarah Marks, she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society for her work on electric arcs and ripples in sand and water. She invented a sphygmograph (a device that charts pulse beats, but was not the first to do so), and…
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