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Their achievements are detailed in the pages that follow. To read their stories is to understand how important it is that the barriers facing women in science be broken down as quickly and entirely as possible. If just one of these women had gotten fed up and quit—as many do—the history of science would have been impoverished.

Even the women who have stuck with it, even those who have succeeded spectacularly, still report that being a woman in this intensely male world is, at best, challenging and, at worst, downright disheartening. It will take goodwill and hard work to make science a good choice for a woman, but it is an effort at which we cannot afford to fail. The next Einstein or the next Pasteur may be alive right now—and she might be thinking it's not worth the hassle.

She now heads an innovative institute where researchers develop smart low-power sensors that both compute and communicate. Bajcsy believes the sensors will be "the next revolution in technology. Barton Professor of Chemistry, California Institute of Technology Barton discovered that DNA conducts electric current but not as well—or not at all—when its tight organization is disrupted by damage from certain chemicals or mutations.

That finding should allow researchers to look for mutations, using chips made of strands of DNA attached to gold on silicon wafers. Barton is investigating whether nature has developed tactics to cope with such damage: Where are electrons funneled? This makes us think about DNA in an entirely new way. Behrensmeyer Research Paleobiologist, Smithsonian Institution Behrensmeyer has spent almost three decades at Amboseli Park in Kenya watching animals disintegrate and fossilize as she researches taphonomy—the science of burial.

Did it have hard parts? Did it die in the water where it could more easily be buried and preserved? To protect vital genes from being lopped off, chromosomes are capped with telomeres, blocks of DNA and protein.

How These Women Changed Science Forever!

Telomeres are maintained by telomerase, an enzyme discovered by Blackburn see story Why science must adapt to women and biologist Carol Greider. In most healthy cells, telomerase production eventually ceases, telomeres whittle down, and the cell dies. Blackburn's research has shown that in cancer cells, the enzyme never shuts off, and cells become immortal: It is a great favorite of cancer cells," and thus a target for new drugs. Sarah Boysen Professor of Psychology, The Ohio State University Boysen's colony of 11 chimpanzees are often as rambunctious as a class of preschoolers, and her research shows they share another trait with toddlers: The chimps can add, subtract, understand fractions, and associate Arabic numerals with the quantity of objects they represent.

Esther Conwell Professor of Chemistry, University of Rochester Half a century ago, Conwell's research on how electrons course through silicon and other semiconducting materials jump-started the computer age. Now she studies the movement of electrical charges through DNA. And the properties of DNA could be useful in assembling circuit elements in nano-electronic circuits. Her work helped spur a revolution in conservation policy, uniting economists and ecologists.

The parts that scientists and engineers use are Daubechies's wavelets—mathematical building blocks that are also used for data compression and encryption. Now, using giant particle colliders, she studies elementary particle physics. Because I have young kids, I think of it as finding the smallest Lego that you can make everything else out of.

Dresselhaus Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, MIT Before her fourth child hit kindergarten, Dresselhaus deciphered the electronic structure of graphite, the lowest-energy solid-state form of carbon. The daunting problem had long scared off other researchers, which is why she chose it: Sylvia Earle Explorer in Residence, National Geographic Society This oceanographer, diver, and developer of deep submersibles is systematically surveying U.

For three decades, she has campaigned for public awareness of the need to protect ocean systems. That discovery, made by Faber in , "showed that galaxies were made according to some kind of regular process. Faber also diagnosed the Hubble Space Telescope's optical flaw and helped design the massive Keck telescopes in Hawaii. Melissa Franklin Professor of Physics, Harvard University "I build things, and then I fix them when I build them badly," says the experimental physicist, offering a deceptively modest description of her work.

The objects she tinkers with are complex particle detectors, including the powerful proton-antiproton Collider Detector at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois, which she used to spot the top quark in Her goal is to "figure out the processes that acted on a particular body in the past in order to make its surface the way it is now. History has not always been kind to women scientists. Many have passed long days and nights in the lab stirring noxious concoctions or gathering piles of data only to see the credit for their discoveries awarded to a male colleague.

Sometimes the work was obscured by a famous mentor. Here is a selection of female scientists who deserve greater notice:. Her collaborator, Otto Hahn, who stayed behind in Germany, was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in In Meitner was finally honored when element was named meitnerium. Her calculations helped Einstein formulate his general theory of relativity. Although she coauthored numerous papers with Whipple, it was he who was honored with the Nobel Prize in medicine. She died after being set afire by an alcohol stove on which she was heating food for her baby.

Eleven years later, Spemann won the Nobel Prize. Astronomers dismissed her observations until four years later, when they were confirmed by a man. She was the first woman to become a professor of science at Harvard. This enabled World War II British fighter pilots to dive without fear that their engines would cut out.

Chien-Shiung found that this rule does not hold true for interactions between subatomic particles involving the so-called weak force. The Nobel Prize was awarded to two male colleagues. By the time they were awarded the Nobel Prize in , Franklin had died of ovarian cancer.

But she was deemed too inexperienced to receive the Nobel Prize, which was given instead in to her thesis adviser, Anthony Hewish—a man who later referred to her as "a jolly good girl [who] was just doing her job. Svitil Friday, November 01, Goldman-Rakic Professor of Neurobiology, Neurology, and Psychiatry, Yale University The persistent firing of neurons in the prefrontal cortex is the "glue of consciousness," says neurobiologist Goldman-Rakic. Instead, throughout life, neurons sprout in the hippocampus, perhaps forging new memories, while others die from stress or wither from disuse.

Hahn Professor of Medicine and Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham About 70 years ago, a global pandemic that has claimed more than 60 million lives began after HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS in humans, jumped from chimpanzees to people. Hahn's studies show that one subspecies of chimp— Pan troglodytes troglodytes, native to west central Africa—is the most likely natural reservoir of the virus. Lene Vestergaard Hau Professor of Applied Physics, Harvard University Hau was the first to bring light, which moves at a constant, breakneck pace of , miles per second in a vacuum, to a screeching halt.

She did it within a cloud of sodium atoms cooled to a few billionths of a degree above absolute zero. Although the beams of light can't be seen under such conditions, their information is imprinted on the sodium cloud "as if we were writing a hologram. When we feel like it, we let them loose again and send them on their way," says the physicist, who is trying to miniaturize the experiment. Hoffman Professor of the Graduate School, University of California at Berkeley The very heaviest elements, those more massive than plutonium, are also the most elusive, with very short-lived stable states.

Hoffman, who headed the team that first discovered plutonium in nature, leads the search for those elements' mysterious properties. Nuclear science, she points out, was started in large part by women, among them Marie Curie. A more efficient technique, developed by Howell, plays off the unseen free energy in the solar system. The astronautical engineer and one of her grad students designed such a trajectory for NASA's low-fuel Genesis probe, launched in , which will collect samples of solar wind and return them to Earth in September Sarah Blaffer Hrdy Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, University of California at Davis "All of my work is tied to the evolution of family relationships," says the woman who started her career investigating why male langur monkeys sometimes kill the babies of other males she found it's an evolutionary strategy that increases their own reproductive success and now focuses on infant care by parents and others.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now at Rensselaer: So I view myself as both a visionary and a pragmatist. She used magnetic traps and lasers to create a similar state with fermions. Fermion gas was teased down to less than one-third of a millionth of a degree above absolute zero, a temperature at which particles act like waves. The resulting quantum gas could shed light on how superconductors work.

Fifteen years later, she proved that breast cancer can be inherited. She has used polymerase chain reactions and genetic sequencing to reunite kidnapped Argentinean children with their families and also identified the remains of Americans missing in action and war crimes victims in Bosnia. Her work has shown that, like DNA, proteins can carry inherited traits through generations. I would argue that you can't understand evolution or biology until you understand protein.

The formation of the Kovalevskaia Fund in and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World in gave more visibility to previously marginalized women scientists, but even today there is a dearth of information about current and historical women in science in developing countries. According to Ann Hibner Koblitz , [4].

Most work on women scientists has focused on the personalities and scientific subcultures of Western Europe and North America, and historians of women in science have implicitly or explicitly assumed that the observations made for those regions will hold true for the rest of the world. Koblitz has said that these generalizations about women in science often do not hold up cross-culturally. A scientific or technical field that might be considered 'unwomanly' in one country in a given period may enjoy the participation of many women in a different historical period or in another country.

An example is engineering, which in many countries is considered the exclusive domain of men, especially in usually prestigious subfields such as electrical or mechanical engineering. There are exceptions to this, however. The involvement of women in the field of medicine has been recorded in several early civilizations.

An ancient Egyptian , Merit-Ptah c. Agamede was cited by Homer as a healer in ancient Greece before the Trojan War c. Agnodike was the first female physician to practice legally in fourth century BC Athens. The study of natural philosophy in ancient Greece was open to women. Recorded examples include Aglaonike , who predicted eclipses ; and Theano , mathematician and physician, who was a pupil possibly also wife of Pythagoras , and one of a school in Crotone founded by Pythagoras, which included many other women.

During the period of the Babylonian civilization, around B. If we are to argue chemistry as the use of chemical equipment and processes, then we can identify these two women as the first chemists.

The 50 Most Important Women in Science

Even during the time of the Egyptian dynasty, women were involved in applied chemistry, such as the making of beer and the preparation of medicinal compounds. The most famous of the women alchemist, Mary the Jewess , is credited with inventing several chemical instruments, including the double boiler bain-marie ; the improvement or creation of distillation equipment of that time. Hypatia of Alexandria c. The Latin West was left with great difficulties that affected the continent's intellectual production dramatically. Although nature was still seen as a system that could be comprehended in the light of reason, there was little innovative scientific inquiry.

Arabic scholars produced original scholarly work and generated copies of manuscripts from Classical periods. This phenomenon was, in part, due to monasteries and nunneries that nurtured the skills of reading and writing, and the monks and nuns who collected and copied important writings produced by scholars of the past. As it mentioned before, convents were an important place of education for women during this period, for the monasteries and nunneries encourage the skills of reading and writing, and some of these communities provided opportunities for women to contribute to scholarly research.

D , a famous philosopher and botanists, known for her prolific writings include treatments of various scientific subjects, including medicine, botany and natural history c. However, with the growth in number and power of nunneries, the all-male clerical hierarchy was not welcomed toward it, and thus it stirred up conflict by having backlash against women's advancement. That impacted many religious orders closed on women and disbanded their nunneries, and overall excluding women from the ability to learn to read and write.

With that, the world of science became closed off to women, limiting women's influence in science. Entering the 11th century, the first universities emerged. Women were, for the most part, excluded from university education. The Italian University of Bologna , for example, allowed women to attend lectures from its inception, in The attitude to educating women in medical fields in Italy appears to have been more liberal than in other places.

The physician, Trotula di Ruggiero , is supposed to have held a chair at the Medical School of Salerno in the 11th century, where she taught many noble Italian women, a group sometimes referred to as the "ladies of Salerno". Dorotea Bucca was another distinguished Italian physician. She held a chair of philosophy and medicine at the University of Bologna for over forty years from Despite the success of some women, cultural biases affecting their education and participation in science were prominent in the Middle Ages.

Thomas Aquinas , a Christian scholar, wrote, referring to women, "She is mentally incapable of holding a position of authority. Margaret Cavendish , a seventeenth-century aristocrat, took part in some of the most important scientific debates of that time. She was however, not inducted into the English Royal Society , although she was once allowed to attend a meeting. She wrote a number of works on scientific matters, including Observations upon Experimental Philosophy and Grounds of Natural Philosophy.

In these works she was especially critical of the growing belief that humans, through science, were the masters of nature. The work attempted to heighten female interest in science. The observations provided a critique of the experimental science of Bacon and criticized microscopes as imperfect machines. In Germany, the tradition of female participation in craft production enabled some women to become involved in observational science, especially astronomy.

She was educated by her father and uncle and received training in astronomy from a nearby self-taught astronomer. Her chance to be a practising astronomer came when she married Gottfried Kirch , Prussia's foremost astronomer. She became his assistant at the astronomical observatory operated in Berlin by the Academy of Science.

She made original contributions, including the discovery of a comet. When her husband died, Winkelmann applied for a position as assistant astronomer at the Berlin Academy — for which she had experience. As a woman — with no university degree — she was denied the post. Members of the Berlin Academy feared that they would establish a bad example by hiring a woman. Winkelmann's problems with the Berlin Academy reflect the obstacles women faced in being accepted in scientific work, which was considered to be chiefly for men. No woman was invited to either the Royal Society of London nor the French Academy of Sciences until the twentieth century.

Most people in the seventeenth century viewed a life devoted to any kind of scholarship as being at odds with the domestic duties women were expected to perform. A founder of modern botany and zoology, the German Maria Sibylla Merian — , spent her life investigating nature. When she was thirteen, Sibylla began growing caterpillars and studying their metamorphosis into butterflies. She kept a "Study Book" which recorded her investigations into natural philosophy. In her first publication, The New Book of Flowers , she used imagery to catalog the lives of plants and insects.

After her husband died, and her brief stint of living in Siewert , she and her daughter journeyed to Paramaribo for two years to observe insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Uncommon for that era, she traveled to South America and Surinam, where, assisted by her daughters, she illustrated the plant and animal life of those regions. Overall, the Scientific Revolution did little to change people's ideas about the nature of women - more specifically - their capacity to contribute to science just as men do. According to Jackson Spielvogel, 'Male scientists used the new science to spread the view that women were by nature inferior and subordinate to men and suited to play a domestic role as nurturing mothers.

The widespread distribution of books ensured the continuation of these ideas'. Although women excelled in many scientific areas during the eighteenth century, they were discouraged from learning about plant reproduction. Carl Linnaeus ' system of plant classification based on sexual characteristics drew attention to botanical licentiousness, and people feared that women would learn immoral lessons from nature's example.

Women were often depicted as both innately emotional and incapable of objective reasoning, or as natural mothers reproducing a natural, moral society. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu defied convention by introducing smallpox inoculation through variolation to Western medicine after witnessing it during her travels in the Ottoman Empire. After publicly defending forty nine theses [41] in the Palazzo Pubblico, Laura Bassi was awarded a doctorate of Philosophy in at the University of Bologna.

She subsequently defended twelve additional theses at the Archiginnasio , the main building of the University of Bologna which allowed her to petition for a teaching position at the university. Bassi earned the highest salary paid by the University of Bologna of 1, lire.

According to Britannica, Maria Gaetana Agnesi is "considered to be the first woman in the Western world to have achieved a reputation in mathematics. Published in it "was regarded as the best introduction extant to the works of Euler. Also appointed to the University of Bologna she never taught there. The German Dorothea Erxleben was instructed in medicine by her father from an early age [49] and Bassi's university professorship inspired Erxleben to fight for her right to practise medicine.

In she published a tract arguing that women should be allowed to attend university. In Eva Ekeblad became the first woman inducted into that academy. Ekeblad's work turned potatoes into a staple food in Sweden, and increased the supply of wheat , rye and barley available for making bread, since potatoes could be used instead to make alcohol. This greatly improved the country's eating habits and reduced the frequency of famines. She repeated and described the importance of an experiment originally devised by Willem 's Gravesande showing the impact of falling objects is proportional not to their velocity, but to the velocity squared.

This understanding is considered to have made a profound contribution to Newtonian mechanics. Published ten years after her death, her translation and commentary of the Principia contributed to the completion of the scientific revolution in France and to its acceptance in Europe.

Paulze accompanied Lavoisier in his lab, making entries into lab notebooks and sketching diagrams of his experimental designs. Paulze translated various works about phlogiston into French. One of her most important translation was that of Richard Kirwan 's Essay on Phlogiston and the Constitution of Acids , which she both translated and critiqued, adding footnotes as she went along and pointing out errors in the chemistry made throughout the paper.

This work proved pivotal in the progression of chemistry, as it presented the idea of conservation of mass as well as a list of elements and a new system for chemical nomenclature. She also kept strict records of the procedures followed, lending validity to the findings Lavoisier published. The astronomer Caroline Herschel was born in Hanover but moved to England where she acted as an assistant to her brother, William Herschel. Throughout her writings, she repeatedly made it clear that she desired to earn an independent wage and be able to support herself.

When the crown began paying her for her assistance to her brother in , she became the first woman to do so at a time when even men rarely received wages for scientific enterprises—to receive a salary for services to science. She had unquestioned priority as discoverer of five of the comets [58] [59] and rediscovered Comet Encke in William was summoned to Windsor Castle to demonstrate Caroline's comet to the royal family.

Science remained a largely amateur profession during the early part of the nineteenth century. Women's contributions were limited by their exclusion from most formal scientific education, but began to be recognized by admittance into learned societies during this period. Scottish scientist Mary Fairfax Somerville carried out experiments in magnetism , presenting a paper entitled 'The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum' to the Royal Society in , the second woman to do so. She also wrote several mathematical, astronomical, physical and geographical texts, and was a strong advocate for women's education.

English mathematician Ada, Lady Lovelace , a pupil of Somerville, corresponded with Charles Babbage about applications for his analytical engine. In her notes —3 appended to her translation of Luigi Menabrea 's article on the engine, she foresaw wide applications for it as a general-purpose computer, including composing music. She has been credited as writing the first computer program, though this has been disputed. Elizabeth Fry visited the institute in and was inspired to found the London Institute of Nursing , and Florence Nightingale studied there in She became the first woman member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Other notable female scientists during this period include: The latter part of the 19th century saw a rise in educational opportunities for women.

The first UK women's university college, Girton , was founded in , and others soon followed: Newnham and Somerville The Crimean War —6 contributed to establishing nursing as a profession, making Florence Nightingale a household name. A public subscription allowed Nightingale to establish a school of nursing in London in , and schools following her principles were established throughout the UK. James Barry became the first British woman to gain a medical qualification in , passing as a man. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the first openly female Briton to qualify medically, in Annie Scott Dill Maunder was a pioneer in astronomical photography, especially of sunspots.

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A mathematics graduate of Girton College, Cambridge, she was first hired in to be an assistant to Edward Walter Maunder , discoverer of the Maunder Minimum , the head of the solar department at Greenwich Observatory. They worked together to observe sunspots and to refine the techniques of solar photography. They married in Annie's mathematical skills made it possible to analyse the years of sunspot data that Maunder had been collecting at Greenwich.

She also designed a small, portable wide-angle camera with a 1. In , the Maunders traveled to India, where Annie took the first photographs of the sun's corona during a solar eclipse. By analysing the Cambridge records for both sunspots and geomagnetic storm , they were able to show that specific regions of the sun's surface were the source of geomagnetic storms and that the sun did not radiate its energy uniformly into space, as William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin had declared.

In Prussia women could go to university from and were allowed to receive a PhD.


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In all remaining restrictions for women were terminated. In the second half of the 19th century a large proportion of the most successful women in the STEM fields were Russians. Although many women received advanced training in medicine in the s, [70] in other fields women were barred and had to go to western Europe—mainly Switzerland—in order to pursue scientific studies. To a large extent, women's higher education in continental Europe was pioneered by this first generation of Russian women.

Theirs were the first doctorates in medicine, chemistry, mathematics, and biology. In the later nineteenth century the rise of the women's college provided jobs for women scientists, and opportunities for education. Women's colleges produced a disproportionate number of women who went on for PhDs in science. Many coeducational colleges and universities also opened or started to admit women during this period; such institutions included just over women in , by numbered almost 20, An example is Elizabeth Blackwell , who became the first certified female doctor in the US when she graduated from Geneva Medical College in She also published several books on medical education for women.

In , Elizabeth Bragg became the first woman to graduate with a civil engineering degree in the United States, from the University of California, Berkeley. She was the first person to win two Nobel prizes, a feat accomplished by only three others since then. Alice Perry is understood to be the first woman to graduate with a degree in civil engineering in the then United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland , in at Queen's College, Galway, Ireland. Lise Meitner played a major role in the discovery of nuclear fission.

As head of the physics section at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin she collaborated closely with the head of chemistry Otto Hahn on atomic physics until forced to flee Berlin in In , in collaboration with her nephew Otto Frisch , Meitner derived the theoretical explanation for an experiment performed by Hahn and Fritz Strassman in Berlin, thereby demonstrating the occurrence of nuclear fission.

The possibility that Fermi's bombardment of uranium with neutrons in had instead produced fission by breaking up the nucleus into lighter elements, had actually first been raised in print in , by chemist Ida Noddack co-discover of the element rhenium , but this suggestion had been ignored at the time, as no group made a concerted effort to find any of these light radioactive fission products. Maria Montessori was the first woman in Southern Europe to qualify as a physician.

In the case of the latter she argued for the development of training for teachers along Froebelian lines and developed the principle that was also to inform her general educational program , which is the first the education of the senses, then the education of the intellect. Montessori introduced a teaching program that allowed defective children to read and write. She sought to teach skills not by having children repeatedly try it, but by developing exercises that prepare them.

Emmy Noether revolutionized abstract algebra, filled in gaps in relativity, and was responsible for a critical theorem about conserved quantities in physics. One notes that the Erlangen program attempted to identify invariants under a group of transformations. Among mathematicians, Noether is best known for her fundamental contributions to abstract algebra, where the adjective noetherian is nowadays commonly used on many sorts of objects. Mary Cartwright was a British mathematician who was the first to analyze a dynamical system with chaos. Florence Sabin was an American medical scientist.

Sabin was the first woman faculty member at Johns Hopkins in , and the first woman full-time professor there in Sabin published over scientific papers and multiple books. Women moved into science in significant numbers by , helped by the women's colleges and by opportunities at some of the new universities. Margaret Rossiter's books Women Scientists in America: Struggles and Strategies to and Women Scientists in America: Before Affirmative Action — provide an overview of this period, stressing the opportunities women found in separate women's work in science. In , Ellen Swallow Richards called for the "christening of a new science" — " oekology " ecology in a Boston lecture.

This new science included the study of "consumer nutrition" and environmental education. This interdisciplinary branch of science was later specialized into what is currently known as ecology, while the consumer nutrition focus split off and was eventually relabeled as home economics. Richards helped to form the American Home Economics Association , which published a journal, the Journal of Home Economics , and hosted conferences.

Home economics departments were formed at many colleges, especially at land grant institutions. In her work at MIT, Ellen Richards also introduced the first biology course in its history as well as the focus area of sanitary engineering. Women also found opportunities in botany and embryology. In psychology , women earned doctorates but were encouraged to specialize in educational and child psychology and to take jobs in clinical settings, such as hospitals and social welfare agencies.

In , Annie Jump Cannon first noticed that it was a star's temperature that was the principal distinguishing feature among different spectra.

Due to Cannon's work, most of the then-existing classes of stars were thrown out as redundant. Afterward, astronomy was left with the seven primary classes recognized today, in order: Henrietta Swan Leavitt first published her study of variable stars in This discovery became known as the "period-luminosity relationship" of Cepheid variables. The accomplishments of Edwin Hubble , renowned American astronomer, were made possible by Leavitt's groundbreaking research and Leavitt's Law. Clark in their book Measuring the Cosmos. Hubble often said that Leavitt deserved the Nobel for her work.

In , Harvard graduate student Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin demonstrated for the first time from existing evidence on the spectra of stars that stars were made up almost exclusively of hydrogen and helium , one of the most fundamental theories in stellar astrophysics. Her most famous work was on enzyme kinetics together with Leonor Michaelis , based on earlier findings of Victor Henri. This resulted in the Michaelis—Menten equations. Menten also invented the azo-dye coupling reaction for alkaline phosphatase , which is still used in histochemistry.

She characterised bacterial toxins from B. She worked on the properties of hemoglobin , regulation of blood sugar level, and kidney function. World War II brought some new opportunities. The Office of Scientific Research and Development , under Vannevar Bush , began in to keep a registry of men and women trained in the sciences. Because there was a shortage of workers, some women were able to work in jobs they might not otherwise have accessed. Many women worked on the Manhattan Project or on scientific projects for the United States military services.

Women in other disciplines looked for ways to apply their expertise to the war effort. Three nutritionists, Lydia J. Roberts , Hazel K. Stiebeling , and Helen S. Mitchell , developed the Recommended Dietary Allowance in to help military and civilian groups make plans for group feeding situations.

The RDAs proved necessary, especially, once foods began to be rationed. Rachel Carson worked for the United States Bureau of Fisheries , writing brochures to encourage Americans to consume a wider variety of fish and seafood. She also contributed to research to assist the Navy in developing techniques and equipment for submarine detection. Women in psychology formed the National Council of Women Psychologists , which organized projects related to the war effort. In the social sciences, several women contributed to the Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study , based at the University of California.

This study was led by sociologist Dorothy Swaine Thomas , who directed the project and synthesized information from her informants, mostly graduate students in anthropology. In the United States Navy , female scientists conducted a wide range of research. Mary Sears , a planktonologist , researched military oceanographic techniques as head of the Hydgrographic Office's Oceanographic Unit.

Florence van Straten , a chemist, worked as an aerological engineer. She studied the effects of weather on military combat. Grace Hopper , a mathematician, became one of the first computer programmers for the Mark I computer. Gerty Cori was a biochemist who discovered the mechanism by which glycogen, a derivative of glucose, is transformed in the muscles to form lactic acid, and is later reformed as a way to store energy.

For this discovery she and her colleagues were awarded the Nobel prize in , making her the third woman and the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. She was the first woman ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Cori is among several scientists whose works are commemorated by a U. Nina Byers notes that before , fundamental contributions of women to physics were rarely acknowledged. Women worked unpaid or in positions lacking the status they deserved. That imbalance is gradually being redressed.

In the early s, Margaret Rossiter presented two concepts for understanding the statistics behind women in science as well as the disadvantages women continued to suffer. She coined the terms "hierarchical segregation" and "territorial segregation. The latter describes the phenomenon in which women "cluster in scientific disciplines. A recent book titled Athena Unbound provides a life-course analysis based on interviews and surveys of women in science from early childhood interest, through university, graduate school and the academic workplace.

The thesis of this book is that "Women face a special series of gender related barriers to entry and success in scientific careers that persist, despite recent advances". By , these awards had recognised almost laureates from 30 countries. Fifteen promising young researchers also receive an International Rising Talent fellowship each year within this programme. The Nobel Prize and Prize in Economic Sciences have been awarded to women 41 times between and This means that 40 women in total have been awarded the Nobel Prize between and Statistics are used to indicate disadvantages faced by women in science, and also to track positive changes of employment opportunities and incomes for women in science.

Women in science - Wikipedia

Women appear to do less well than men in terms of degree, rank, and salary in the fields that have been traditionally dominated by women, such as nursing. In the field of psychology , where women earn the majority of PhDs, women do not fill the majority of high rank positions in that field. Women's lower salaries in the scientific community are also reflected in statistics. In addition to the gender gap , there were also salary differences between ethnicity: African-American women with more years of experiences earn 3. Women are also under-represented in the sciences as compared to their numbers in the overall working population.

Native Americans participation cannot be statistically measured. Women tend to earn less than men in almost all industries, including government and academia. The data showing the differences in salaries, ranks, and overall success between the genders is often claimed [ who? The rate of women's professional achievement is increasing.

Its Last Chapter — "The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours.

Women in science

Research on women's participation in the "hard" sciences such as physics and computer science speaks of the "leaky pipeline" model, in which the proportion of women "on track" to potentially becoming top scientists fall off at every step of the way, from getting interested in science and maths in elementary school, through doctorate, postdoctoral, and career steps.

The leaky pipeline also applies in other fields. In biology , for instance, women in the United States have been getting Masters degrees in the same numbers as men for two decades, yet fewer women get PhDs ; and the numbers of women principal investigators have not risen. What may be the cause of this "leaky pipeline" of women in the sciences? The most outstanding factor that is occurring at this crucial time is family formation.

As women are continuing their academic careers, they are also stepping into their new role as a wife and mother. These traditionally require at large time commitment and presence outside work. These new commitments do not fare well for the person looking to attain tenure. In the US, women with science or engineering doctoral degrees were predominantly employed in the education sector in , with substantially fewer employed in business or industry than men.

The salary of a male engineer continues to experience growth as he gains experience whereas the female engineer sees her salary reach a plateau. Women, in the United States and many European countries, who succeed in science tend to be graduates of single-sex schools. However, their representation in the other fields is inconsistent. In North America and much of Europe, few women graduate in physics, mathematics and computer science but, in other regions, the proportion of women may be close to parity in physics or mathematics.

In engineering and computer sciences, women consistently trail men, a situation that is particularly acute in many high-income countries. Each step up the ladder of the scientific research system sees a drop in female participation until, at the highest echelons of scientific research and decision-making, there are very few women left. In , the EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas called attention to this phenomenon, adding that the majority of entrepreneurs in science and engineering tended to be men.

In some, the balance even now tips in their favour. Six out of ten researchers are women in both medical and agricultural sciences in Belarus and New Zealand, for instance. There has been a steady increase in female graduates in agricultural sciences since the turn of the century. The reasons for this surge are unclear, although one explanation may lie in the growing emphasis on national food security and the food industry.

Another possible explanation is that women are highly represented in biotechnology. Women play an increasing role in environmental sciences and conservation biology. In fact women played a foremost role in the development of these disciplines. Silent Spring by Rachel Carson proved an important impetus to the conservation movement and the later banning of chemical pesticides.

Women played an important role in conservation biology including the famous work of Dian Fossey, who published the famous Gorillas in the Mist and Jane Goodall who studied primates in East Africa. Today women make up an increasing proportion of roles in the active conservation sector. A recent survey of those working in the Wildlife Trusts in the U.

Women are consistently underrepresented in engineering and related fields. In Europe and North America, the number of female graduates in engineering, physics, mathematics and computer science is generally low. In many cases, engineering has lost ground to other sciences, including agriculture. The case of New Zealand is fairly typical. In a number of developing countries, there is a sizable proportion of women engineers. Of the seven Arab countries reporting data, four observe a steady percentage or an increase in female engineers Morocco, Oman, Palestine and Saudi Arabia.

In the United Arab Emirates, the government has made it a priority to develop a knowledge economy, having recognized the need for a strong human resource base in science, technology and engineering. As a result, it has introduced policies promoting the training and employment of Emirati citizens, as well as a greater participation of Emirati women in the labour force. Emirati female engineering students have said that they are attracted to a career in engineering for reasons of financial independence, the high social status associated with this field, the opportunity to engage in creative and challenging projects and the wide range of career opportunities.

An analysis of computer science shows a steady decrease in female graduates since that is particularly marked in high-income countries. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the share of women graduates in computer science dropped by between 2 and 13 percentage points over this period for all countries reporting data.

These are still very low levels.

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Figures are higher in many emerging economies. The Malaysian information technology IT sector is made up equally of women and men, with large numbers of women employed as university professors and in the private sector. This is a product of two historical trends: Government support for the education of all three groups is available on a quota basis and, since few Malay men are interested in IT, this leaves more room for women.

Malaysia's push to develop an endogenous research culture should deepen this trend. It is also a product of interest on the part of parents, since their daughters will be assured of employment as the field expands, as well as an advantageous marriage.


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The global figures mask wide disparities from one region to another. There are also wide intraregional disparities. These are the lowest ratios among members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Of the 12 countries reporting data for the years —, seven have achieved gender parity, or even dominate research: Recent data on women's participation in industrial research are available for those countries with the most developed national innovation systems, with the exception of Brazil and Cuba: Women are also strongly represented in science.

The Caribbean paints a similar picture, with women graduates in science being on a par with men or dominating this field in Barbados, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Trinidad and Tobago. There has been a decrease in the number of women engineering graduates in Argentina, Chile and Honduras.