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Beauty and Brains: The 5 Unsung Women in STEM

In a male-dominated field, women have always been on the sidelines, showcased for beauty and unrecognized for their talents. In the 1900s, the only recognized female figures were those of famous appearances. For instance, Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn were both women of talent, remembered solely for their beauty rather than their brains and intelligence for humanitarian activism. Here are five unsung women in STEM who should be recognized for their contributions.

1. Rosalind Franklin – 1953

An incredible woman and chemist who discovered the use and structure of DNA. Her discovery led to thousands of future scientific discoveries and innovations. The DNA double helix is what led to the knowledge of RNA, viruses and many more genetic outcomes. The recognition of the DNA structure was from Franklin’s study which she published in 1953 with the use of X-ray diffraction imaging. It wasn’t until after Franklin’s death that she received credit for her work in the discovery of the DNA structure. 

2. Mary Jackson – 1958

An African American aerospace engineer and mathematician who single-handedly broke numerous barriers. Mary Jackson opened the door for women in STEM being the first-ever African American female engineer at NASA. Throughout her years working at NASA, she released numerous studies and co-authored countless papers that have aided in the advancement of space technology. 

3. VERA RUBIN – 1992

An astronomer who led to the discovery and recognition of dark matter in our galaxies. Her study, although rarely mentioned, could not be more integral to the science of cosmic space knowledge today. It was specifically her groundbreaking work in “Galaxy Rotation Rates” which led to the discovery of dark matter being at the edge of every galaxy. This causes the stars of different galaxies to move at different rates. 


A woman that took the world by storm and changed the recognition of home security. Marie Van Brittan Brown was an African American nurse living in Queens, Jamaica during the 1960s when she and her husband recognized the importance of home security. As she became more aware of the increasing home invasions occurring, she planned to take matters into her own hands. This led her to create the first closed-circuit television that was showcased as a security system. 

5. ADA LOVELACE – 1840

A mathematician and writer who is well known for her various innovations and discoveries. Lovelace is now being recognized as the world’s first computer programmer for her contributions to “The Analytical Engine”. This has led to the innovation of all computer programming. She started the notion of a computerized program that would be able to calculate numbers. Lovelace faced numerous obstacles and problems advocating for her invention; she faced various prejudices due to her age, gender and status as a woman in society. 

As time has progressed, we are now able to identify and advocate for the women who have changed civilization. These women, and many more, were the defining factors of various innovations and incredible discoveries that have led to the successes and advancements of our society.

Kinza Yaqoob

Ryerson '23

Kinza is a third-year student at Ryerson University with a concentration in Biology and Human Anatomy. She loves to read and learn about things she's passionate about.  When she isn't studying she can be found reading or watching Gilmore Girls while sipping her third iced coffee of the day.
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