Today we celebrate Women’s day, and the only right thing to do is to remember some of the most notable women who are remembered in numerous fields for their contribution to science. Although we all know Marie Curie and her work on the field of radioactivity (about whom you can read here) and never forgotten Rosalind Franklin and her discovery of DNA structure (about whom you can read here), we cannot forget about the lesser known members of the prettier gender without whom the world of science would not exist as it is.
Ada Lovelace (1815–1852)
Ada Lovelace, the daughter of poet Lord Byron became the first female programmer, writing the algorithm for a computer programme in the mid-1800s. Ever since she had been little she showed great talent for numbers and languages. When she was 17, she met Charles Babbage, the father of the computer, who invented the differential machine and under his mentorship she continued her work.
Alice Augusta Ball (1892-1916)
Alice was a chemist who was able to develop a medicine for leprosy when she was only 23 years old thanks to her capabilities and knowledge. In that time, Chaulmoogra oil (Hydnocarpus wightianus) was used as a treatment, but was not an overly successful treatment. Alice was able to successfully develop a method for deriving an active component from the oil and was able to chemically modify it so it maintained its therapeutic effect while improving its absorption in the body. She was the first Afroamerican woman who earned a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii, and she later became the first female and the first Afro-American professor at the same university.
Ankica UhlirAnkica Uhlir was the first female student to graduate with a degree in pharmacy in Zagreb. She received her diploma from a pharmacy course which was at that time part of the Faculty of Chemistry. This course would be transformed into an independent Faculty of Pharmacy which saw many reforms during its existence. However, the 1901 reform which allowed women to study pharmacy at the University of Zagreb was the most important one for female pharmacists, allowing them to pursue their degrees in the same capacity men could.
Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943-today)
Jocelyn Bell Burnell built a radio telescope which she operated and ran. She noticed regular peaks in luminosity that she and her PhD. mentor attributed to a pulsar (a rotating neutron star which emits regular signals of radio waves). Despite her discovery, her supervisor and her colleague were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1974. Despite never being credited with her discoveries with a deserved Nobel prize, today her work is remembered as one of the most important discoveries in the field of physics.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979)
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin graduated from Cambridge in the 1920s. Despite finishing her studies, she never received her degree because women were not eligible to receive them in England at that point in time. Due to this, she travelled to America where she received a PhD in astronomy. She was the first person to determine that stars were composed of primarily hydrogen and helium, but she was forced to retract her claims by a colleague who came to the same conclusion, but a few years later.
Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994)
Dorothy focused her work on the discovery of the structure of insulin, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1965. After Marie Curie and her daughter Irène Joliot-Curie, Dorothy was the third woman in the world to receive the Nobel Prize and one of only five women who were ever awarded the Nobel Prize for their work in the STEM field. Even today, she is the only British woman ever to receive the Nobel prize, and, together with Florence Nightingale, to be awarded with the Order of Merit by a British monarch.
Margaret Hamilton (1936-Today)
Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were the first people who successfully left their mark on the Moon thanks to a team consisting of 4000 people who were a part of that project. Margaret was one of them and she led a team tasked with building software for the Apollo program. Her perseverance and insistence on rigorous testing were crucial for the successful landing of Apollo 11. In 2016 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution which led to the successful landing on the Moon.
Women had to fight with all their strength to earn their position in the world of science, in which men were always privileged, and this is just a small part of the list of women who are worthy of being mentioned when talking about the development of science. In this tone, we would like to offer our best wishes to all women and those who feel like women on Women’s day and especially to our tireless scientists who walk the same path as some of the most notable women in history.
Translated by: Ines Jurak
Women Scientists You Need To Know, https://www.iflscience.com/, pristupljeno 8.3.2021.
Margaret Hamilton, Apollo Software Engineer, Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom, https://www.nasa.gov/, pristupljeno 8.3.2021.
Overlooked for the Nobel: Jocelyn Bell Burnell, https://physicsworld.com/, pristupljeno 8.3.2021.
https://hmmf.hazu.hr/od-ljekarnistva-prema-farmaciji-razvoj-sveucilisne-nastave/, pristupljeno 8.3.2021.
[naslovna] Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay