Meet 10 women who have made history with their contributions to science

Niña practicando ciencia

 Throughout history, women have encountered numerous obstacles to fight for recognition in all sectors, especially within the world of science and research. This has been reflected in the awareness of the importance of equality and the elimination of gender roles by the international community in recent decades, promoting and inspiring the role of women and girls in the scientific field.  ;

Looking back, as far back as 2015, world leaders committed to moving towardsinclusive and sustainable innovation in science. And while in some fields women remained inexplicably in the minority, as early as 2018 one in three researchers worldwide was a woman according to UNESCO. Data that reflects how much remains to be done. 

To celebrate this March 8, in support of all women, and on the occasion of the commemoration of International Women's Day and the girl in science on February 11, here is a list of 10 women scientists, researchers or engineers who have contributed their grain of sand in the field of science:


1.  Marie Curie

Marie Curie (1867-1934), better known as Madame Curie, was a Polish and French physicist and chemist who was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity. She stood out for being the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes in different disciplines, Physics and Chemistry, at the same time; She was also the first woman to hold a position as a professor at the University of Paris and to be buried with merit honors at the Pantheon in Paris in 1995. Today she is considered one of the most outstanding female figures in history.

Her accomplishments include founding one of today's leading medical research centers, the Curie Institutes in Paris and Warsaw; but without a doubt her greatest discovery was Radium and Polonium in the field of radioactivity.

In addition to the aforementioned Nobel Prizes in Chemistry (1911) and Physics (1903), throughout his life he received the Willard Gibbs Prize (1921), the Matteucci Medal (1904) and the Davy Medal (1903).

2.  Rosalind Franklin

British chemist and crystallographer, the role of Rosalind Elsie Franklin (1920-1958) was decisive for the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, carbon and graphite, despite the fact that his contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA was not recognized during his lifetime.

With a BA in Natural Sciences from Newnham College, Cambridge and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Cambridge University, she led pioneering work on the molecular structures of viruses under the directed by John Desmond Bernal.

Although some of her works were not recognized during her lifetime due to her early death at the age of 37, she was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz.

3. Clara Grima

Clara Isabel Grima Ruiz (1971) is a Spanish doctorate in Mathematics from the University of Seville and former president of the Dissemination Commission of the Royal Spanish Mathematical Society. Currently, she is a professor and popularizer of Mathematical Sciences, revolutionizing the world of science, opening the way in many areas.

In addition to her scientific articles, she is the author of books like: In search of the lost graph, that mathematics Be with you!, Mathematics watches over your health, Mati and his mateaventuras, To infinity and beyond, among others. In 2018, Clara Grima and her team discover a new geometric shape called scutoid in a Cell Biology investigation and the Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Seville, which is published in the journal Nature Communications. In 2022 it has been included in the list Forbes de The 22 protagonists who will change on 22.

Among his distinctions are the Tesla Prize in 2012, the Prismas Prize in 2018 and the Mario Bohoslavsky Prize in 2019; He has also participated in the television program Órbita Laika .

4. Joselyn Bell

Joselyn Bell Burnell (1943) is a Northern Irish astrophysicist who co-discovered (since the honors of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics went to fellow researcher Antony Hewish) the first radio signal from a pulsar (1967), the discovery of which allowed the theory of stellar evolution to be verified.

In the United Kingdom she is considered one of the most influential scientists, awarded "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century". She served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society (2002-2004), of the Institute of Physics (2008-2010), and as interim president of the institute (2011). In 2018 he received the Special Award for Advancement in Fundamental Physics, donating $3 million to create a special scholarship fund for the 'unconscious bias' that hampers the work of women, ethnic minorities and refugee students seeking to become Physics researchers.

5. Margarita Salas

Born in Asturias, Margarita Salas (1938-2019) was a doctor in Biology from the Complutense University of Madrid. During her professional career she worked for three years with Severo Ochoa at New York University, in the field of molecular biology. Of her many contributions to science, one of her most notable was the discovery of DNA polymerase, responsible for DNA replication.

In 2007 she became the first Spanish woman to belong to the United States National Academy of Sciences. She participated in more than 300 scientific journal publications and was awarded the 2019 European Inventor award from the European Patent Office.

 6. Marie Sophie Germain

Marie Sophie Germain (1776-1831), French mathematician and physicist, was one of the pioneer women in developing the theory of elasticity, in addition to her important contributions to number theory. One of her most important achievements were later known as 'Sophie Germain prime numbers'.

In 1830 she was proposed by the mathematician Gauss for an Honorary Doctorate, but the honorary recognition came a few months after her death. Currently, the Institut de France awards the Sophie Germain Prize each year to the researcher who has carried out the most important work in the field of Mathematics.

Her role as a woman scientist has been so decisive that one of the Parisian streets and a Lyceum bear her name, as well as a plaque with her name and honor as a mathematician and philosopher in the house where she died.

7. Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall (1934) is an English ethologist and Messenger of the Peace Organization of the United Nations, a pioneer in the study of the behavior of wild chimpanzees and noted for her 60-year study of the social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

she is recognized for her great work in the field of conservation and animal welfare, as well as founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program. Since its foundation in 1996, it has been part of the committee of the Human Rights Project.

Of the many awards Jane Goodall has received, here are a few:

  •         Golden Plate Award, Academy of Achievement in 1987
  •         William Procter Award for Scientific Achievement in 1996
  •         Ecovidrio Award "Environmental Personality of the Year" in 2016
  •         Doctor Honoris Causa from the Complutense University of Madrid in 2018
  •         Artemio Precioso Award granted by Greenpeace Spain for his environmental activism in 2020 

8. Angela Ruiz Robles

Ángela Ruiz (1895-1975), Spanish teacher, writer and inventor, was the woman who invented a mechanical encyclopedia considered the first electronic book (a device designed in 1971 by Michael Hart) and current e-books.

Already in 1944 she began with several scientific-grammatical projects with the atlas project, with the aim that the syntax, grammar, spelling, morphology and phonetics. In 1949 she patented the mechanical encyclopedia that since 2006 began to be part of the Exhibition of the National Museum of Science and Technology of La Coruña. In 2018, in recognition of her scientific work, she was included in the Periodic Table of Women Scientists.

9.  Katherine Johnson

Also known as Coleman, Creola Katherine Johnson (1918-2020) was an American physicist, rocket scientist, and mathematician. With her work, she played a fundamental role in the aeronautics and space programs of the United States, since she contributed to the first space flights thanks to her calculations of orbital mechanics at NASA.

In 2015 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama, and in 2016 Leland Melvin presented her with a NASA Group Achievement Award and the Snoopy Award. In 2019 she was inducted into the Government Executive Hall of Fame's inaugural class as one of the inductees.

10. Mara Dierssen

Mara Dierssen Sotos (1961) is a Spanish neurobiologist researcher, science communicator and university professor, considered one of the most outstanding researchers in Down syndrome worldwide.

Her postdoctoral research on Down syndrome at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, ​​carried out between 1990 and 1993, has led her to be internationally recognized in the field.

During his life he has written several books: The Artist's Brain, Down Syndrome and The Artistic Brain, among others.

Some of the awards that have been granted are:

  •         The National Prize for Scientific Thought and Culture in 2008
  •         The Prize for the Spanish Selection of Science in 2016
  •         The Optimist Committed to Science Award granted by the magazine I Had a Dream Last Night in 2018

·         A Special Mention from the Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Cantabria in 2018.

Image courtesy of Freepik.

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