In celebration of all things female, I felt it was rather apt to draw attention to women’s scientific accomplishments and how they have most definitely contributed positively to the world of science. Among many male scientists and their contributions, female achievement is almost overlooked due to the lack of awareness of some women’s successes. Among the vast collection of inspirational female scientists of past and present, many named women stand out amongst the scientific sphere as a result of their pioneering research and subsequent findings.
Marie Curie, a Polish physician, is widely and warmly remembered for her discovery of radium and polonium and subsequent contribution to the fight against cancer. Curie conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, which, with the assistance of her husband, became an influential and revolutionary scientific achievement.
Despite Curie’s success, she continued to face great opposition from male scientists in France, and never received significant financial benefits or real credit for what she attained. Marie died on July 4th 1934 from leukaemia, caused by exposure to high-energy radiation from her experimentation – a testament to her research. Much of what we know about cancer today is a result of Curie’s scientific endeavours and her evident dedication to her cause.
In addition to the successes of Curie, Rosalind Franklin made an outstanding contribution to science in the 20th Century. Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who throughout her lifetime, made an undeniably outstanding contribution to our current understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses and graphite, to name a few. There is no contesting the fact that Rosalind’s successes were appreciated positively during her lifetime but in addition, her contributions to the discovery of the structure of DNA were largely recognised posthumously by many an academic and scientist.
A more recent female scientist, Jane Goodall, who is still alive to this day, is known most famously for her study of chimpanzees in Tanzania where she discovered primate behaviours that have continued to define the course of this scientific field. Goodall is reportedly the world’s most foremost authority on chimpanzees due to her dedication in this specific scientific field – she closely observed their behaviour for a quarter of a century. She is undeniably a highly respected figure in science in addition to being a strong advocate of ecological preservation. However, despite this, she arguably remains an unspoken hero in the scientific world whose scientific discoveries and contribution to the understanding of our primates has been beneficial and most definitely influential in the scientific sphere.
Despite these outstanding female successes in science, I believe it is still fair to suggest that female success is acknowledged less than male success, with many not being able to name more than a single female scientist who has influenced and enhanced our scientific knowledge for the better. For that reason, I feel that female success should be championed and that we should wish for more females to contribute further to science with their exceptional discoveries and accomplishments.