Five Incredible Women in STEM History You’ve Never Heard Of

Happy Women’s History Month! March is such a fun month because it gives us an excuse to talk and celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout time. One specific area where women’s accomplishments are either overlooked or underappreciated is the STEM field. STEM, in general, is often seen as a men-dominated field, and it’s so important to emphasize the incredible work done by women. Today, I’m going to talk about ten women in STEM history that are often forgotten in time. 

  1. 1. Marie Equi

    Marie Equi was one of the most badass women in American medical history. Period. Equi was the child of an Italian and Irish immigrants born in the late 1800s. Eventually, she enrolled at Physicians and Surgeon Medical College and then University of California Medical Department. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 1903 and fell into the role of a trailblazer for women’s reproductive rights in the early 20th century when this topic was still taboo and illegal. This didn’t stop her work, though, and was even once arrested for dispersing a birth control information packet. Equi was also heavily involved in politics and fought for women’s suffrage and workers’ rights in Oregon. She was not afraid to speak her mind and fight, and I admire her so much for that. 

  2. 2. Mary Sherman Morgan

    Mary Sherman Morgan was born in a rural North Dakota farm with five older siblings. Her parents refused to send her to school until the age of eight when child services basically forced them to send her. She eventually went to DeSales College to study Chemistry, however she put her education on pause because WWII had just broken out and there was a shortage of scientists and chemists in the workforce. Through her later employment with North American Aviation, Morgan invented Hydyne, the liquid fuel that sent the USA's first satellite into orbit. Honestly, I barely passed Honors Chemistry in high school, so I am absolutely in awe of Mary Sherman Morgan’s accomplishments. You go, girl!

  3. 3. Maria Sibylla Merian

    Maria Sibylla Merian was born in 17th century Germany and grew up with her mother and stepfather, a painter focused on still life and flowers. She was taught by her stepfather, his apprentices, and her siblings at the house and gained skills to be a still life painter. However, she was particularly interested in the process of metamorphosis and what happens to caterpillars. Maria even published the first volume on caterpillars in 1679, documenting her findings. The remainder of her life involved travel, adventure, and She eventually traveled and contributed greatly to the field of entomology and scientific illustrations throughout her lifetime before passing away in 1717. However, her work and achievements are still used by entomologists to this day. Talk about a legacy!

  4. 4. Wang Zhenyi

    Wang Zhenyi lived in China during the 1700s when the expectations of women were limited to simple domestic tasks. Zhenyi (Wang was the family name) grew up writing poetry, reading her Grandfather’s library collection, studying equestrian arts, and studying archery. She began to write poems highlighting the injustice she noticed in China during this time. Unlike most female poets of this era, Zhenyi’s poems were harsh depictions of injustice and inequality. She also began writing papers on astronomy, science, and math. She published papers on equinoxes and lunar eclipses and conducted her own research as well as study already published research by other astronomers. Sadly, Wang Zhenyi only lived to be twenty-nine, but the work she created in the almost three decades she was alive is quite remarkable. I think we can all take a lesson from the legacy Zhenyi left even if we will never become mathematicians or astronomers.  

  5. 5. Anandibai Joshi

    Anandibai Joshi was born into a high-class family in the town of Kalyan, India, however her life was far from privileged. After her family lost their wealth, Joshi (originally named Yauma) was married off at only nine years old. She had a child by the age of fourteen, but he only lived for ten days before passing away due to the lack of medical care. After that, she developed an interest in medicine. She was publicly ridiculed and harassed when she attempted to attend classes while in India, and she eventually came to the United States to study at the Women’s Medical College of Pennsylvania. She eventually passed away at the age of 21 back in India after being one of the first women in India to graduate with a two year degree in medicine.