On March 8, 2018, we would be celebrating International Women’s Day all across the world. The theme “#PressforProgress” for this year’s event aptly fits the situation of women in this modern age. Women still face gender discrimination in many walks of life, especially in science. With this in mind, we push for more gender equality to women in science, research and publishing.
In this post, we look at some of the most important achievements by women in STEM.
Women Breaking Ground in Biomedical Research
Women have made groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of biology and biochemistry. This has changed the way we understand the world around us. The work of women in STEM is reflected everywhere we look.
Gertrude Belle Elion, a pharmacologist, invented azathioprine, a drug used for organ transplants. Her innovative research methods later led to the development of the AIDS drug AZT, the first immunosuppressive drug which has helped millions of people live longer, better lives.
Tu Youyou, a pharmaceutical chemist, and recipient of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is known for her research that led to the discovery of a novel therapy to combat malaria. Her work led to the discovery of “artemisinin” that helps inhibit the malaria parasite thus improving the health of millions of affected people.
Gail Roberta Martin was the first to isolate pluripotent stem cells from embryos and also coined the term “embryonic stem cells,” which promised to revolutionize medical treatments.
Ann Tsukamoto co-patented a process to isolate the human stem cells. Her work plays a critical role in understanding the blood systems of cancer patients. This could eventually lead to a cure for cancer.
Barbara McClintock was a pioneer in the field of cybergenetics whose experiments with the maize genome contributed new knowledge on chromosomes and genes. She won the 1983 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of mobile genetic elements.
Ada E. Yonath mapped the structure of the ribosome for which she was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Her work has important applications especially in the production of antibiotics.
Gerty Theresa Cori discovered the way glycogen breaks down into lactic acid in the muscles and is then resynthesized and stored in the liver as a source of energy. This process is now called the Cori cycle.
Women Breaking Ground in Physics and Math
The contributions of women are not only limited to the fields of medicine and biology. Growing up, we learn about Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison, but rarely do we hear about Mileva Marić Einstein, the woman whose work made Albert famous, or Dr. Grace Murray Hopper, who invented the programming language COBOL.
Did you know that Mária Telkes invented the first thermoelectric power generator? The Mars Curiosity rover generates electricity using this technology. Stephanie Louise Kwolek, a chemist, invented Kevlar, the bullet-proof material used by law enforcement. Another woman, Marie Van Brittan Brown, brought us the home security camera and CCTV.
In addition, let’s not forget Maria Goeppert Mayer, who proposed the nuclear shell model of the atomic nucleus, or Maryam Mirzakhani, the first woman to win the prestigious Fields Medal in the discipline of Mathematics. Moreover, it is difficult to imagine what our modern world would look like without the contributions of Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, whose research on the properties of semiconductors led to the inventions of the fax machine, telephone, fiber optic cables, caller ID, and call waiting. Dr. Jackson was the first African-American woman to gain a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a notable accomplishment on its own.
Stay tuned for more updates on International Women’s Day celebrations at Enago Academy! Share your thoughts or opinions by tweeting us using #Women4STEM.
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