In assemblies this week, we have been looking at International Women’s Day, which is on March 8th, (next Tuesday).
This year’s theme #breakthebias is working towards a world in which women are viewed and treated equally to their male counterparts.
The world of Science has seen some marvellous breakthroughs an achievements by women, who have, for reasons of gender equality, have not always gained the credit they deserve. An excellent example of this is Rosalind Franklin, a chemist, whose x-ray crystallography work led to James Watson and Francis Crick discovering the structure of DNA, for which they earned a Nobel prize.
Dorothy Hodgkin, another chemist, discovered the structure of insulin, for which she won a Nobel prize in 1964.
Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake was one of seven women who fought to be admitted to Edinburgh University in 1869 to study medicine – at the time no English university would allow women to do so, but the Scottish courts allowed the women to attend, although they were not allowed to graduate. It wasn’t until 2019 that the university awarded them honorary degrees, on the 150th anniversary of their completion of the course.
Katherine Johnson was a woman who worked for NASA and became the subject of the movie Hidden Figures. As a mathematician, she calculated the trajectories for space flights, including Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 – the first NASA flight to take a human into space.
Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was the first woman to become a professor at Harvard University and the first person, not just woman, to discover the composition of stars.
Inge Lehmann was a Danish seismologist who discovered Earth has a solid inner core by comparing earthquake data from different quakes over a period of 10 years.
Caroline Herschel, a German astronomer, worked in London with her brother, and was the first woman to discover a comet.
Mary Anning discovered a full dinosaur skeleton at the age of 12 in 1811.
These women, and countless others, have contributed unquantifiable amounts of knowledge and understanding to their fields of expertise, and are often unknown.
On Tuesday next week, just pause and think of the contribution women make to your life – not just in the field of Science, but everywhere.
Until next time, keep calm and apply some Science!