In our ever-changing world, women’s role in society continues to remain in a progressive state. It has been a battle for decades, but as this year marks the 100th anniversary of the Suffragette success, and so coinciding with International Women’s Day (8th of March), it is obviously as perfect as any other time to take a look back at just two of many successful women throughout a specific area in history.
As an annual event, International Women’s Day celebrates women and all they are. With an emphasis for 2018 on the hashtag ‘#PressforProgress’, the IWD continues to focus on the achievement of gender equality across all platforms.
However, in a field not as commonly discussed amongst the public, the sciences are one of the fields still regarded as male dominated, but this is far from true.
We simply need to look at the amazing and ground-breaking work of Marie Curie. As a pioneer in the discovery of radioactivity, it is particularly apt that there is a foundation trust named after the Polish physicist and chemist, with a Marie Curie Trust in Liverpool itself. Recognising her influence and importance during the 20th century and onwards, her work has helped to produce many life-saving treatments for thousands of people suffering with illnesses, in particular, cancer. And as the first ever woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1903, she continued to break records, winning it again in 1911. Her work lead to further successes in fields such as medicine, biology, chemistry, maths and engineering; a real powerhouse in the world of science.
Throughout the 20th century, women followed in the footsteps of Curie, with more and more women continuing to explore science-based subjects.
London born Rosalind Franklin died at a mere 38 years old, yet, managed to contribute to the discovery of DNA in those limited years. As a chemist and using her skills as a crystallographer she created a greater understanding of viruses, before discovering the helix shape molecular structure of DNA. In 1962 the Nobel Peace Prize was won for the discovery of the double helix shape of DNA by two scientists who based their findings on the work Franklin’s previous research. Despite Franklin’s huge contribution to the molecular understanding that is now held amongst the science community, there was no mention of her work by the Nobel Peace Prize winners. This lack of acknowledgement lends itself towards the realisation of the ongoing struggle for women to be celebrated in the same way as men are so regularly in this area of work.
Taking just a quick glimpse at the fascinating discoveries and struggles of two 20th century scientists reminds the science industry why it needs to do more in the way of achieving gender equality.
Celebrate all women on March 8th, every year, because they are having life-saving and life-changing influences more than the world realises.
For more information on women in science, visit the WISE website: www.wisecampaign.org.uk/.