Women in STEM

To vote in our Elite 8 round, please go to the THE ELITE EIGHT page. These are all the women who were in our STEM category.

Mae Jemison –
Though known for being the first African American female astronaut, Jemison is all-around all star. Jemison graduated from Stanford University as a honor student after entering on a National Achievement Scholarship. It was in 1987 when Jemison finally had her chance to go space after being selected to board the Endeavor as a science mission specialist. It was because of this experience that Jemison wanted others to realize what women in minority groups could do if given the opportunity. Jemison barrier breaking work lead her various accolades including the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and even had a school named after in Detriot, Michigan, the Mae C. Jemison Academy.

Sally Ride –
Dr. Sally Ride’s life as an astronaut will live to stand the test the test of time. Being the first ever female to venture into space, Ride broke the female stereotypes on STEM fields, inspiring young girls to follow their dreams into the stars. Ride continued to pique the interests of young people, teaching at the University of California in San Diego and also spent her time writing science books for teachers and students alike. Ride continued to support the importance mathematics and scientific studies for students across the U.S. until she passed away July, 23rd 2012.

Tu Youyou –
Tu is a true lifesaver. After studying in Peking University in Beijing, Tu began work in 1965 at China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Tu is now Chief Scientist at the institution and for good reason. It’s because of her knowledge of traditional Chinese remedies that she’s recognized for her work in finding a new way to treat the effects of Malaria. She like many other successful scientific women, also received a Nobel Prize for her amazing work.

May-Britt Moser –
Hailing from Fosnavåg, Norway, Moser began her studies in psychology at the University of Oslo meeting her future husband Edvard Moser and later receiving her doctorate in neurophysiology in 1995. In 2005 the Moser’s hard work paid off. The couple found a new cell near the hippocampus that’s responsible for helping humans and animals determine their location. It was because of this amazing discovery the Mosers received a Nobel Prize. You’ll see May-Britt Moser today as a professor and director of the Centre for Neural Computation at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

Ellen Ochoa –
Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a California native and physics major joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer. Just two year later, she was chosen to be on an astronaut on an orbiting mission on space shuttle Discovery, making her the first Hispanic woman in outer space. She has been given NASA’s highest award, Distinguished Service Medal, in honor of her efforts. Currently she is the first ever Hispanic Director of Johnson’s Space Center and second female director of the Center. It’s clear that Ochoa’s accomplishments are simply out of this world!

Dorothy Hodgkin –
As a child, Hodgkin became interested scientific research as child after reading a chemistry book on crystals. This is no coincidence lead her to study x-ray crystallography and later lead to her most significant scientific accomplishment of discovering the structures of penicillin, insulin, and vitamin B12. These studies lead her to a 1964 Nobel Prize, becoming the third woman after Marie-Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie to receive a prize in chemistry.

Florence Nightingale –
Nightingale was a woman out of her time. Known as the “Lady with the Lamp,” Nightingale is most noted for her work in the Crimean War as she taught the nurses how to make the hospitals cleaner for their patients and showed them effective ways to treat wounded soldiers. But Nightingale also spent her life a nurse advocating for healthcare reform in hospitals and households. Her most famous book, Notes on Nursing: What It Is and What It Is Not, gave instructions on how to take care of the sick. In 1860, she opened the Nightingale School of Nursing in London, a school that gave women the option to work outside the house. Due to her extensive knowledge of healthcare and nursing, she is considered to be the founder of modern nursing.

Marie Curie –
This woman of science is known well in the scientific community for her work in nuclear physics. Along with her husband Pierre Curie, both shared a Nobel Prize in 1903 for their work in discovering radioactive elements polonium and radium. Even after her husband’s unfortunate passing in 1906, Curie continued her studies in the elements and later received yet another Nobel Prize in 1911 for her continuous work. She even played a huge for WWI establishing mobile x-ray teams in order to better aid the wounded. Curie was also known for journaling radioactive elements and compounds. It was her work on radioactivity that has lead to the use of these substances in medicinal field and for scientific experiments.

Rosalind Franklin –
This English scientist played a big role in the discovery of the structure of DNA. Although her accomplishments weren’t fully recognized until after her death at 37 years old, her crystallographic knowledge changed how scientists saw the DNA models.

Lise Meitner –
Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Born as daughter of a Jewish lawyer in Vienna, she was as woman prohibited from attending high school and trained as French teacher. Through self-study she received a high school diploma in 1901 and started studying math and physics at the University of Vienna. She earned her doctorate in physics in 1906. She moved to Berlin in 1907 and met Otto Hahn, starting a successful collaboration in which they discovered numerous isotopes. Their work let to breakthroughs in radioactivity. Lise Meitner lost her university job in 1933 and had to flee Nazi Germany in 1938. Left back in Germany, Otto Hahn build a machine designed by Meitner and ultimately discovered nuclear fission. He received the Nobel Prize Chemistry in 1945 – Meitner, however, wasn’t even mentioned. An element (109) was named “meitnerium” in 1997, and in 1999, her exclusion from the Nobel Prize was officially declared “unjust”.

Elizabeth Blackwell –
She was the first woman in the United States to earn a medical degree as a physician. She was also the first woman to be recognized in the General Medical Council in Britain. She aided in the efforts to create a medical college for women, which was established in 1868. Blackwell also went to Britain to set up a medical school for women there as well. With the help of another woman, the school was established in London in 1874. After she retired from medicine, she participated heavily in reform movements such as sanitation, women’s rights and family planning. Although these strong ideas never got Blackwell anywhere, she was a headstrong woman who fought for what she believed in and practiced it.

Rachel Carson –
Carson was a marine biologist and environmentalist born in 1907. She wrote a book entitled Silent Spring in 1962, which led to a global environmental movement against synthetic pesticides that were harming the environment. Chemical industries fought strongly against her research after she wrote a letter describing how chemical overuse correlated with the bird population decline in 1959. It was through Carson and other scientists that pesticides were classified as carcinogens. Carson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work in 1980, 16 years after her death.

Aprille Ericsson-Jackson –
This American aerospace engineer was the first woman to receive a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Howard University. Most significantly, she was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in engineering at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She has been published in many scientific journals including Howard Magazine.

Margaret Mead –
This anthropologist earned her Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1929. Mead is said to have changed the way we study people and other cultures today. She also wrote several books including Coming of Age in Samoa, Growing Up in New Guinea and Male and Female. She was president of the American Anthropological Association in 1960, and she later was vice president of the New York Academy of Sciences. Mead was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1979 after her death the previous year.

Ada Lovelace –
She was an English countess and mathematician during the early 1800s. She considered herself a metaphysician and analyst. Lovelace worked closely with the father of computers, Charles Babbage, and she created what seemed to be the first computer program. She developed an algorithm to apply to Babbage’s work and machines. Lovelace also found that computing doesn’t have to be just numbers and quantities. She is considered a pioneer of computing.

Jane Goodall –
Goodall keeps herself busy being a primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist. She conducted a 55-year-long study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees. The British woman has received multiple honors for various work she has done in the humanitarian and environmental departments. She’s written over a dozen books, multiple children’s books and participated in many films about her studies and work. Goodall has received many other honors and awards from countries such as Japan, France and Spain.