5 Unsung Female Scientists You Need To Know About

Throughout history, it’s common knowledge that an inherently patriarchal system has automatically given men an immense amount of privilege for simply being men, whether they’re unaware of it or not. This meant that women are automatically made into a minority, which is a sad truth that’s still prevalent today, given the discrimination against them when they’re trying things that are considered to be “manly.”

And all of this is happening despite numerous women making a lot of progress in their chosen fields and contributing a lot to advance them. In particular, women in science are often cast aside for their male counterparts, shunned not because of their work but because of their gender. Even worse, the credit for their work is given to someone else most of the time.

And so, in honor of all women in science, here are five unsung female scientists you should know about:

  1. Jocelyn Bell Burnell – As a student taking her Ph.D., the now British astrophysicist was able to discover repeating pulses of data waves. This was after months of her just studying radio telescope data. Eventually, these pulses came to be known as pulsars – which are spinning neutron stars that actually weigh more than our sun. In 1974, Burnell’s supervisor, Antony Hewish, was credited for the work and was awarded a Nobel Prize for it.
  2. Lise Meitner – Working with Otto Robert Frisch and Otto Hahn, Lisa Meitner was able to discover the nuclear fission of uranium back in 1939. This eventually led to the development of nuclear weapons, and while Meitner was nominated for the Nobel, it was Hahn who received it.
  3. Jean Purdy – Thanks to contemporary letters, it’s now recently revealed that embryologist and nurse Jean Purdy was a key figure in the birth of the first IVF baby in 1978. However, Sir Robert Edwards was awarded the Nobel Prize for it.
  4. Rosalind Franklin – Although Watson and Crick are wildly credited for the discovery of the DNA structure, it was Franklin’s X-ray crystallography data that was largely responsible for it. Sadly, Watson and Crick were awarded the Nobel Prize for it in 1962.
  5. Alice Ball – Before dying at the age of 24, Ball was at the University of Hawaii working on a treatment for leprosy. However, after her death, another chemist took over. Ball is also the university’s first female chemistry professor.

Female scientist The perceived idea women are intellectually inferior to men is keeping them out away from science, technology, engineering, and math-related fields. Put it another way: ugh. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock