1. Marie Curie, 1867-1934
Marie Sklodowska Curie changed the world not once but twice.
This woman founded the new science of radioactivity – even the name was invented by her – and her discoveries produced effective cures for cancer.
“Curie boasts of an extraordinary series of achievements,” says Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science, who nominated the French scientist of Polish origin.
Marie Curie and 4 other famous women pioneers in the world of science
She was born in Warsaw, Curie studied physics at the university in Paris, where she met her future research collaborator and husband, Pierre.
When he died, Marie raised a small fortune in the United States and Europe to found laboratories and to develop cancer treatments.
Marie Curie was a woman of action as well as having a tremendous intellect. During World War I, she helped equip ambulances with X-ray equipment and often drove them herself to the front lines.
Despite getting sick from the radioactive materials she constantly handled, Curie never lost her determination to excel in the scientific career she loved.
Her memory is preserved in the cancer charity that bears her name and continues to help terminally ill patients around the world.
The love affair of the pioneer of physics and chemistry Marie Curie that scandalized the Nobel committee
2. Rosa Parks, 1913-2005
On December 1, 1955, Rosa Louise Parks, a 42-year-old seamstress who worked at a department store in Montgomery, Alabama, boarded her bus to head home, as she did daily after work.
On that day, however, the African-American challenged the racial segregation that existed in parts of the United States by refusing to give up her seat for a white person to sit down.
His protest was supported by many other black people and sparked the civil rights movement which, in the 1960s, finally achieved equal rights. Four years after his death in 2005, Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States.
The 15-year-old girl whose act of rebellion inspired her to defy segregation laws in the United States
3. Emmeline Pankhurst, 1858-1928
In 1903, the social reformist Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union to campaign for the parliamentary vote for women in the Edwardian era in the UK.
“Acts, not words,” was his slogan. Pankhurst, a charismatic leader, and powerful speaker incited thousands of women to demand – and not politely ask – for their democratic right in a massive movementthat has been unparalleled in British history.
Pankhurst was always in the middle of the fight and endured 13 imprisonments. His name and cause became known worldwide.
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4. Ada Lovelace, 1815-52
Born in the early 1800s, Ada Lovelace had a fascination with science and mathematics that defied the expectations of her class and gender at the time.
Despite being one of many figures in the history of science whose work has only been appreciated posthumously, today Ada Lovelace, a talented mathematician, is considered the first computer programmer in an industry that has since transformed businesses, our lives, and the world.
Lovelace is particularly intriguing because not only was she a woman working during an era when men dominated the fields of science and mathematics, but she also demonstrated a unique and visionary perception of the potential of computers.
In an industry still dominated by men, it is particularly surprising that the first programmer was a woman. 50 Most Popular Women Around The World.
5. Rosalind Franklin, 1920-58
When the DNA double helix structure was discovered, the scientists argued that they had uncovered the secret of life itself.
The crucial test was presented by the English chemistry and crystallographer Rosalind Franklin: the famous photograph 51.
This was an X-ray image showing a dark dotted cross, suggesting the helical structure of the molecule and allowing key details to be inferred from the DNA.
Franklin had taken the DNA images by X-ray diffraction during his stay at King’s College London.
And although his research on coal and viruses was appreciated throughout his life, his contribution to the discovery of DNA structure was only posthumously recognized.
The innovations that followed, and that had a huge impact on human life – mapping the human genome, test-tube babies, genetic engineering – depended on understanding the chemical underpinnings of heredity.