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When asked to name a few scientists, we often say Newton, Einstein, and Darwin, but no one recalls any female researcher. Women have always been underrated in the world of science. This is not because they haven’t made any discoveries or inventions, but because the deep inculcated patriarchal system doesn’t let them become famous. While gender inequality in the field of science and technology isn’t a large issue today, many female scientists of the past were not given credit they deserved for their truly groundbreaking discoveries.
Here, we have named a few of them who are truly worth recognizing:
- Jennifer Doudna
- J Maria Goeppert Mayer
- Vera Rubin
- Rosalind Franklin
- Barbara McClintock
1. Jennifer Doudna
This 53-year-old biochemist is currently working as the professor of chemistry at the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Berkeley. Throughout her life, she had done immense research in this field. She explored the basic structure and function of the first ribozyme, a type of catalytic ribonucleic acid (RNA). This later helped her invent the revolutionary gene-editing tool, CRISPR. The technology has the potential to eradicate the genetic diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease.
2. J Maria Goeppert Mayer
Though she was accredited with the Nobel prize for Physics in 1963, only a few people know her name today. In fact, she is the second women who received this award, the first being Marie Curie, who had received it sixty years earlier. She was the one to discover the nuclear shell of the atomic nucleus and published her first paper describing the nuclear shell model in August 1948.
3. Vera Rubin
Vera Rubin was the first scientist to work for galaxy rotation rates. By studying the galactic rotation curves for years, she was successful in finding the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the calculated data. Later, in 1970s, she discovered the existence of dark matter and stated that invisible gravity sources were pulling planets and stars in certain directions. She also discovered that the stars at the edges of galaxies move faster than expected.
4. Rosalind Franklin
This English chemist played an important role in the discovery of double helix structure of DNA. Besides this, she also made contributions to the understanding of the molecular structures of RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite. But all her efforts were overshadowed by her male counterparts. She was also successful in producing high-resolution photos of crystallized DNA fibers which helped her deduct the basic dimensions of DNA strands. She also found that the phosphates were present outside the helical structure. This information was later used by Watson and Crick to find the exact structure of DNA. In his book The Double Helix, Watson apologized for not paying attention at Franklin's talk.
5. Barbara McClintock
After completing her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1927, she started her career as a scientist in the development of maize cytogenetics. She was the one who discovered the technique for visualizing maize chromosomes. It took her years to study the chromosomes and to know how they change during reproduction. On the basis of this data, she demonstrated many fundamental genetic ideas. The most important of them was the theory of genetic recombination by crossing-over during meiosis(a mechanism by which chromosomes exchange information). Later, she also produced the first genetic map for maize, linking regions of the chromosome to physical traits. Although she gave many valuable ideas and discoveries to the scientific world, recognition and honors came to her quite late when she won the Nobel Prize for Physiology in 1983.
Hope you liked reading the information that we have shared here. Today, the face of science has changed, and women now stand alongside men at the forefront of many fields. But at the same time, we also need to recognize the outstanding achievements and contributions of yesterday’s female scientists by showcasing their research excellence and drawing on their experiences.
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