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Celebrating Female Scientists

by Jessica Zhang

In light of women’s history month, I would like to shine a light on overlooked female scientists in history. Facing discrimination and prejudice, these powerful women have held their heads high, and yet many of the findings have been attributed to men. This article will bring back recognition to their accomplishments.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Working in the field of astronomy, Burnell discovered the presence of pulsars in space, which demonstrated that massive stars actually leave behind smaller ones when they undergo supernova. Her significant findings were robbed from her hands when her supervisor and colleague, both men, received the Nobel Prize instead of her. Since then, Burnell has strived to protect women in academia.

 

Rosalind Franklin

Almost everyone has heard of Watson and Crick while learning of DNA structure, but little to no people associate Rosalind Franklin with this discovery. However, Franklin had conducted key scientific research and composed detailed drawings that were critical to the deduction of DNA structure. When Watson and Crick saw her work, they had taken advantage of it and were awarded the Nobel Prize, while Franklin earned nothing.

 

Alice Ball

Alice Ball had conducted research in the University of Hawaii about chaulmoogra oil. This substance served as a possible treatment for leprosy, which she extensively researched and was able to manipulate into an effective medicine. However, her findings were once again credited to a man after she died from an illness and was unable to publish her work.

 

Nettie Stevens

Working in the field of biology, Stevens’ studies had been vital to the conclusion that hormones were the sole determiner in an organism’s sex. However, a fellow scientist had been credited with her findings when he wrote a genetics textbook that emphasized his contributions. However, his work was largely based upon Stevens’, as he sent numerous letters asking for details on her experiments.

 

Overall, researchers and historians have thankfully uncovered these injustices hidden within scientific discoveries. However, there are still many more female contributions that have been swept under the rug due to blatant sexism. In hopes of brighter futures of equality where men and women can work side by side to better the world, articles like this are just the start to acknowledging how females, too, can make a difference.

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