We’re all quite familiar with Marie Curie, the famous female scientist who died in pursuit of her life’s work. While she was extraordinary women and scientist, there are so many whose names deserve to be heard. Here are just eight of those badass women!
Granted, all the women on this list are uniquely badass, Hypatia is tragically better known for her death than for her scientific explorations. Born in Alexandria between 350-370 B.C.E, Hypatia’s was lucky enough to be born to a family who highly valued education. Having a mathematician as a father was just the beginning of her formal training, though she later surpassed her father, adopting the sciences of astronomy and philosophy in addition to mathematics. Later in life she became head of the Neoplatonic school, making Hypatia one of the first known documented mathematicians. However, Hypatia tragically succumbed to brutal beating from group of Christian rebels in the year 415/416.
2. Wang Zhenyi:
Born into the bottom tiers of the Chinese feudal system in the year 1768. Wang truly had an uphill battle to not only become educated, but to become an educated woman. Nonetheless, Wang became an intelligent astronomist, becoming one of the first to offer true scientific reason as to why lunar eclipses occur. Not only was Wang a scientist — she was also an accomplished author. Wang truly proved to not only herself, but to many others, that if you so desire you can overcome an obstacle in your way.
3. Maria Sibylla Merian:
A common theme amongst all of these women is not only being trailblazers of science, but being women of many talents. This is no less true in the case of Maria Sibylla Merian. Born in Switzerland in 1647, Maria became well established in the fields of botany, natural history, and entomology, though she ultimately became renowned for her incredible scientific illustrating, specifically in botany. Her talent is still truly unrivaled, and her work is not only extremely detailed and accurate, but stunning, as well. Though she died a little over 300 years ago, her scientific contributions do not go unnoticed, as her works still travel the world today.
4. Elizabeth Blackwell
I undoubtedly have an incredible amount of respect for every woman on this list; however, Elizabeth may be a personal favorite of mine. Born in England on February 3rd, 1821, Elizabeth eventually migrated to the U.S and eventually became the first female doctor in America. One of the multitude of issues Elizabeth faced was the lack of medical schools who accepted women, though she was eventually accepted to the Geneva College in New York. Supported by an outstanding family (who was also heavily involved in activism), she began the arduous process of becoming a doctor. eventually graduating first in her class in 1849. Though faced with ample prejudice, her dedication and activism has allowed women such as myself to attempt to follow in her footsteps.
5. Mary Agnes Chase:
Here we have yet another renaissance woman. Similar to Maria Sibylla Merian, Mary was a botanist and scientific illustrator. Though Mary is unique because despite all of these women being activists in their own right, Mary was an active suffragette, actually having been arrested several times for her participation in suffragette demonstrations. Mary took a particular liking to the young women of science, specifically young female botanists, working well past her retirement from the Smithsonian on the betterment of society for not only women, but for science.
6. Karen Horney
Born in 1885, Karen eventually rose to fame with her audacious counter claims to traditional Freudian psychology, with her focuses in psychology primarily focusing on psychoanalytics, feminism, and female psychosexual development, becoming a trailblazer in psychology not only for outstanding work, but being one of the first women to thoroughly analyze the female psyche. Prior to Karen, men were the ones conducting such analytics, leading to conclusions such as that of Freud, who concluded that “penis envy” was actually that of women desiring a penis and the power it represents. Thank god for women like Karen who dedicated their lives to through and accurate research!
7. Cecilia Payne-Gaschopkin:
A common trope amongst the early women of science was making incredible scientific discoveries, but never receiving the respective credit for such achievements. Cecilia was an outstanding English astrophysicist, who in her doctoral dissertation determined what the sun was made of. Having only existed in a reality where we know what the sun is made of, this may not seem like that outstanding of an achievement. However, for a 25 year old in the early 1900’s this was incredible — quite frankly, it still is. Tragically, she never received appropriate credit for the discovery because she was coaxed out of publishing, by the same man who later claimed her science as his own. However, in her thesis she managed to explain what stars were made of evidently including the sun.
8. Rosalind Franklin:
Similar to Cecilia, Rosalind made an incredible scientific discovery, only to have her thunder stolen by two men later down the road. Born in 1920, Rosalind is arguably one of the most famous women on this list. For anyone who had an AP Biology class comparable to mine, you may recall her name briefly being mentioned. Though she was a chemist, she is best known for her discovery of the helical structure of DNA through her pioneered technique of x-ray diffraction. Though, it was made very clear in my AP Bio class that the two men after her never technically took the credit for her discovery they simply “discovered the importance and implications of her discovery.” This might be true, but I strongly believe that she didn’t get all the credit she deserved. Thusly I’m giving it to her here.
Thank you to all the aforementioned women for breaking through the glass ceiling and paving the way for women such as myself and the many more to come! I hope you all enjoyed and appreciate these women as much as I do!