Women in Science

Amelia Wignall, Journalist, Editing Board Member

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Since the beginning of science, women have been prevented from being educated in science. They have had their discoveries stolen from them and their ideas ignored. That did not prevent women from making enormous progress in science and the things we know.

The 18th Century

     In the 18th Century, women were discouraged from being scientists, but some became well-known for their scientific discoveries. In the 18th Century, many things were discovered – electricity, Uranus, oxygen, – which made the time period an important one in science.

     Laura Bassi was born in October 1711 and died in February 1778. When she was thirteen, a professor at the University of Bologna began to educate Bassi. In 1732, Laura Bassi was given an honorary spot at Bologna and was the first female to attend. Bassi was not allowed to teach at Bologna because she was a woman, but that did not stop her from giving lectures and teaching classes from her home. She began research on the use of electricity in medicine and was appointed to the chair of experimental physics for Bologna in 1776.

The 19th Century

In the 19th Century, more women were becoming scientists but there were still not very many. The lightbulb and the telephone were invented in this century.

Elizabeth Blackwell was born in February 1821 and died in May of 1910. When she was 11, her family moved from England to The United States and in 1847, Blackwell got into Geneva College. In 1849, she graduated top of her class, which made her the first female to graduate from medical school. In 1868, Blackwell started a Medical College in New York which she later gave to her sister. In 1875, Blackwell became a professor of Gynecology for the New London School for Women.

The 20th Century

In the late 20th Century, female scientists were very common, but in the early years of the century, they were much less common.

Marie Curie was born in November 1867 and died in July 1934. She moved from Poland to France in 1891 in hopes of attending a college. Curie married Pierre Curie in 1895 in France and they both became researchers at the School of Chemistry and Physics in Paris. In 1898 Marie and Pierre Curie discovered evidence of Radium and they isolated it in 1902.  Marie Curie was the first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in 1903 for physics. In 1906 Pierre Curie was killed but Marie did not stop researching. She won another Nobel Prize in 2011 for discovering how to measure radioactivity.


928 total Nobel Prizes have been awarded and 51 of those have been awarded to women. That is just over 5% of prizes awarded to women.“We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.” -Marie Curie. Marie Curie definitely played by this quote. She was gifted at science, and she worked to become a scientist at all costs.

Today, female scientists are common and can do great things.