Girls Who Slay: 8 Inspirational Female Scientists!
As part of our Girls Who Slay season, we’ve decided to take a look at some of the incredible contributions which some amazing women have made in science - in history as well as today! Read on to see some of the most ground-breaking, convention smashing, and world changing women who slay in science!
Biomedical Engineer Nina Tandon has developed a company called EpiBone – which uses stem cell research to grow human bone for use in reconstructive surgeries. Not only is Tandon an incredible scientist, she is also a top CEO, senior TED fellow, and winner of many media awards for being such an influential figure in science and business in recent years. Her company and the research it undertakes could save and improve countless lives, and is reinventing how we treat bone loss conditions and bone injuries – and she’s achieved all this before even hitting 40!
This awesome woman was slaying way back when…in the 1700s! At a time when women were rarely more than housewives or servants, Caroline was dedicating her time to learning about planets and the solar system. Even though she was only an assistant to her brother, she herself discovered new star clusters and comets, and received many honours for her work in the field – including a gold medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. She was the first woman to be paid for her work as a scientist, and the first woman to have her work published by the Royal Society, and over the years has no doubt inspired countless women to follow in her footsteps and defy convention to follow their passion for science and knowledge.
Mae Jemison was enrolled at Stanford University at only 16 years old, and by the time she was 25, had degrees in both chemical engineering and medicine. She worked as a doctor in a Cambodian refugee camp, as well as a volunteering for the Peace Corps Liberia and Sierra Leone. This alone is impressive enough (especially for an African-American woman in the 1980s, facing prejudice and a hostile scientific community) but she later went on to work for NASA, and became the first African-American woman to travel into space, in 1992. Although she has now retired, Jemison formed her own company which researches ways in which technological advancements can be applied to everyday life. What an inspirational Girl Who Slays!
This intrepid woman had an unlikely introduction into the world of science, when one day she and her brother stumbled upon what looked like a crocodile skeleton on a beach…and then discovered it was a prehistoric fossil! Anning – who was an ordinary, working class carpenter’s daughter – became an entirely self-taught amateur palaeontologist and fossil hunter, and her discoveries (for which she received very little money or credit) helped to shape scientific knowledge about the history of life on earth. She wasn’t afraid of putting herself in danger to make new discoveries, almost being killed in a landslide whilst hunting for fossils! Mary Anning was basically the original Lara Croft (minus the money and privilege!) and that makes her a pretty bad-ass slay belle if you ask us!
Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
First ever woman to become a qualified medical doctor and surgeon, and the first ever female mayor in England, Garrett Anderson is an inspiration to all women who have struggled to find success in male-dominated industries. Her education and career was an uphill struggle, with the status quo being against her, but she battled on and eventually began running her own medical practice, providing help for poor and disadvantaged women as well as other patients of all kinds. Not only was she an accomplished medic, but also campaigned for women’s suffrage and women’s rights in education. For pursuing her goals despite all odds and opinion being against her, and for using the position she gained to advance lives for other women, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson will go down in history for absolutely slaying in her field.
Katrin Amuntus has embarked upon an incredibly ambitious project to map one of the most complex and mysterious landscapes on earth – the human brain! Founder of the project BigBrain, Amuntus aims to one day create a three-dimensional ‘atlas’ of the structures in the brain, in order to facilitate future research, and ultimately improve our understanding of the brain, as well as help to combat disorders ranging from addiction, anxiety and depression to dementia and Parkinson’s disease. BigBrain has already created a functional 3D map of the brain, which is free to access, and is helping a great many scientists around to study the brain in greater detail, leading to better overall knowledge and understanding of how the brain works.
A female, Jewish physicist and chemist working in Europe during the 1930s and 40s, Meitner’s career was made difficult not only by the terrible events of the Holocaust causing her to flee Germany, but also a scientific community that was deeply prejudicial of her race, religion and gender. Her work alongside chemist Otto Hahn led to the discovery of nuclear fission, which changed the world forever, leading to an entirely new source of energy, as well as (through no fault of the scientists who discovered it) a new breed of nuclear weapon which has undoubtedly changed the course of history. When Otto Hahn won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the work, it was seen as scandalous that Meitner had not also been recognised for her significant contribution. Nonetheless, after the war Meitner continued in her scientific career, and earned many awards for her work, and even after her death in 1968 she is remembered in statues, academic building and prizes in her name, and even an element named after her.
No list of female scientists who SLAY would be complete without legendary chemist and physicist, and pioneer of radioactivity research, Marie Curie. The first ever female Nobel prize winner (and only woman to win it twice!) she has secured her place in history and in the hearts and minds of many for developing the very first theories of radioactivity, as well as discovering radium and polonium, and using these theories for the practical purpose of disease discovery and treatment. Marie Curie’s work has contributed to huge shifts in the scientific community’s understanding of radioactivity, and has also contributed to the treatment of cancer using radiotherapy – no doubt saving many lives. Marie Cutie was also a deeply generous and unselfish person – she did not patent her work, for the benefit of the rest of the scientific community, and she turned down financial awards, instead asking that they be donated to scientific institutions, rather than her as an individual. This inspirational woman will forever be remembered as one of science’s true pioneers – and that is what we call slaying!
We hope you have enjoyed our list of 8 women who slay in their careers as scientists, and we hope that it has inspired you by showing just how many awesome women there are out there - in history and right now - slaying in the scientific world, and showing that women are making a huge impact on the world, and making it a better, brighter place to live! There are plenty of ways to slay, but these women achieved it though hard work, passion, commitment, and standing up for themselves, even when others told them their dreams were impossible. That's something all us slay girls should try!