The STEM Heroines

Countless inspiring women have made historic contributions to science and helped advance our understanding of the world around us. Many were not recognised in their lifetimes, but their achievements have helped generations of scientists.

Alice Ball
She developed an easily injectable form of the oil that ultimately saved countless lives and became the best treatment for leprosy until the 1940s.

Rosalind Franklin
Franklin’s research data was the first to demonstrate the basic dimensions of DNA strands and reveal the molecule was in two matching parts, running in opposite directions.

Dorothy Hodgkin
She made numerous breakthrough discoveries, including the atomic structure of penicillin, the structure of vitamin B12 and the structure of insulin.

Grace Hopper
She helped develop multiple computer languages and is considered one of the first programmers of the modern computing age.

Barbara McClintock
She studied how genetic characteristics are passed down through generations, eventually uncovering that some genes could be mobile.

Lise Meitner
She contributed significant advancements to the field of nuclear physics and refused to work on the Manhattan Project because she strongly opposed using fission to create an atom bomb.

Sally Ride
NASA astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space, serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983.

Tu Youyou
Her discovery of artemisinin in the 1970s enabled the creation of antimalarial drugs based on the substance and these have saved millions of lives.

 Chien-Shiung Wu
Her physics research helped develop the process for separating uranium metal and developing better instruments to measure nuclear radiation.

 Maria Winkelmann
She was a pioneer in German astronomy and in 1902, she became the first woman to discover a new comet.

 Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin
Her work as an astrophysicist led to the explanation of the composition of the sun and star from spectra and she was the first to identify that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe.

Mary Anning
She was a palaeontologist who was the first to unearth a complete skeleton of the Plesiosaur and, over the course of her life, discovered the remains of several large vertebrates from prehistoric times.