6 Inspiring Women in Science

February 11, 2022
Students

Today is The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, where we celebrate all the achievements women have made in the STEM industry and hope to encourage more young girls into pursuing science in the future. It is an industry where women are still underrepresented. In fact, stemwomen.com reported that only 35% of STEM students at UK universities are women and they only make up 24% of the STEM workforce too.

In this blog post, we highlight six lady scientists who flipped the script, challenging this male-dominated industry and changing the world of science for the better. From the inventor of gene editing to the first women in space, check out their achievements and how they continue to inspire us today. 

Valentina Tereshkova - The First Woman in Space

"If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can't they fly in space?", a statement made by Valentina which she proves by being the first and youngest woman to go to space (1963). Valentina was selected for her space mission due to her being an excellent skydiver. She orbited the Earth 48 times, spending almost three days in space and still remains the only woman to have been on a solo space mission. Her success has been followed by over 70 other women who have joined the space mission, such as Mae C. Jemison, the first black woman in space (1992).  

Jennifer Doudna - CRISPR Gene Editing 

Have you ever wondered what would happen if we could edit our genes? Well, that thought may become more of a reality, thanks to Jenifer Doduna. She was at the forefront of discovering CRISPR, a gene editing technology discovered through studying bacteria. It won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2020 and can be used to target specific genes and modify organisms genetically. CRISPR is one of the most exciting discoveries of recent years and has endless potential applications including modifying crops, creating biofuels and even editing human DNA. 

Rachel Carson - Environmentalist 

The original Greta Thunberg, and one of the earliest environmentalists, Rachel Carson questioned humanity’s right to master nature, using her expertise on the natural history of the sea. In her most famous book, Silent Spring (1962), she challenged modern science, highlighting the degradation of the natural world, specifically the impact of damaging pesticides. Her message has only grown more popular with time and her legacy is more important than ever in today’s society.

Rosalind Franklin - DNA

It goes without saying that the discovery of DNA is one of the most important in history. It opened the door for scientists to research the genetic structure of organisms leading to an avalanche of discoveries in medicine and biology. Rosalind Franklin played an important role in this discovery, developing and using X-ray diffraction methods to investigate DNA, and produce images of its structure. Without this Crick and Watson wouldn’t have been able to determine the double helix structure which is so important to us today. Even though she didn’t receive her fair share of recognition, she still devoted her life to her work, and we should be grateful for the enormous contribution she made.

Dr Kizzmekia Corbett - Covid Vaccine 

Covid-19 impacted all our lives significantly and completely changed the way we live. Vaccines continue to play a huge role in life returning to normal, however many people don't know about the people behind the vaccine. Immunologist Kizzmekia Corbett was one of those at the forefront of designing and developing an mRNA-based vaccine for COVID-19, working with the biotech company Moderna. As well as focusing on her research, she continues to be a fantastic role model, tackling vaccine hesitancy and encouraging scientific education.

Marie Curie - Radioactive Isotopes  

One of our most inspirational women in history too, Marie Curie’s work has made her a household name today. She revolutionised our understanding of radioactivity and discovered the elements polonium and radium, which could be used to treat tumours. This led her to become the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, and the first person to win it twice! A national hero in both Poland and France, her story is an incredible example of how inspirational women can be in the science industry. 

The Main Takeaway

We’ve only highlighted a few women scientists that have shaped our world, but there are so many more. Share with us your favourite and celebrate The International Day of Women and Girls in Science with us.


Be inspired by one of our female science tutors

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Sadiyah Zaman

Sadiyah is our Senior Content Writer who uses her diverse background in design and language to create educational content for students and tutors alike. At home if she’s not chasing after her mischievous foster cat, she’ll most likely, with a large cup of coffee in hand, be scribbling away at her next writing ideas.

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