Talented women scientists have lived and worked at any period of history. However, unfortunately, their achievements are often underestimated or not taken into consideration. Therefore, it is just to mention the names of several scholars whose achievements we enjoy today and whose inventions have become a part of our everyday life.
- Sofia Kovalevskaya (mathematician)
“She will be the next Pascal,” this is what Mykola Tirtov, a professor of physics and a friend of a family, once told her parents. It was he who noticed her exceptional gift for mathematics and academic brilliance. Later, when she became a first professor of mathematics in Europe, she proved these words to be true. Apart from this, she also was the first female to receive such a degree and the first doctor in mathematics having rights to teach.
The Paris Academy of Sciences honored her with the Borden Award for her research “The problem of rotation of a solid body around a fixed point.” Sofia Kovalevskaya also later became a laureate of the Swedish Academy of Sciences prize with the same work. For the exceptional contribution to the development of this subject, in 1889, the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences allowed Sophia to join their community. This way she became the first female ever to be a Corresponding Member of this Academy. Except for gaining fame and world’s respect for her achievements in the theoretical Mathematics and Physics, Sofia Kovalevskaya will always be remembered as one of those people who moved the science closer for the next generations and opened a lot of shut doors.
- Vera Rubin (astronomer)
It was Vera Rubin who proved the concentration of the galaxies, as before her it was believed that the universe is chaotic and the placement of galaxies, including ours, does not fall under any rules. Her way into science was not easy; she had to fight against the social prejudice towards female inventors but managed to win her place under the sun by hard work and great intellect.
The subject of her researches and the topic that made her famous was dark matter and galactic rotation curve. Several astronomical works containing practical observations were published by her. These researches show that the observable velocity of stars near the center of a galaxy depends on the physical distance from the star to the center. The results of the study did not correspond with anything published before; she made a real breakthrough going ahead of the general theory of relativity and the classical Newtonian gravitation. But what was more important, those studies were proving the existence of dark matter, which created the need for arising of a whole new alternative theory of gravity. So, next time you meet beautiful girls, be attentive. Maybe they are the future of astronomical science!
- Simona de Beauvoir (philosopher)
Simona was born in a family of Parisian aristocrats, so this is not a surprise she finished Sorbonne, becoming the ninth person in the history to ever do that. However, it does not cancel the fact she was a gifted philosopher. Maybe that is why she managed to attract Jean P. Sartre for the relationship with whom she is most famous for. They were working together their whole life and published brilliant texts in a couple, the first of which was created during World War II.
After the war, she made a statement, writing a work called Second Sex, regarding the role of women in history. It was this text that later became the basis of the feminist movement.
- Rosalind Franklin (biophysicist)
Not many people are aware that this woman was the one to first discover DNA. Although incidental, this discovery made her step out of the shadow of her earlier works that did not bring her any recognition because they were written co-authorly with other male scientists, and they received all the fame. It was her analysis of the x-ray image of DNA that showed the convoluted structure. Unfortunately, in 1961, the scholars working together with Rosalind received the Nobel Prize for the discovery, but the woman died of cancer 4 years earlier.
- Elizabeth Blackwell (physician)
Back in the XIX century, it was almost impossible for a woman to get into a medical school. Despite all the obstacles, in 1849, Elizabeth received an academic degree and became the first fetal medicine doctor in American history. Then she experienced a standstill in her career – no hospital wanted to take her for a job. That is why, in 1874, she, together with another female scholar, opened her own Jacks Blackwell’s Medical School for Women in London! Not only did she not give up but later continued fighting for women rights and standing up for the feminist movement.