Throughout the centuries, there have been many notable scientific discoveries from both men and women. However, most women weren't allowed to study science in universities until the 16th century, and even after then, many scientific fields of study were largely dominated by men.
Nevertheless, there have been many famous and successful women who have studied in various fields and have contributed to many well-known discoveries to date!
Check out five women below whose contributions to science have helped changed the world.
1. Lise Meitner
Born from a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria, Meitner attended the University of Vienna to study physics in 1901. She also became a physics professor and was the head of the department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, becoming the first female professor of physics in Germany. She is most well-known for the discovery of nuclear fission of uranium, alongside Otto Hahn. While the discovery was awarded a Nobel prize, only Hahn, and not Meitner was awarded the prestigious award. However, in her late life, she obtained many other awards.
2. Barbara McClintock
Studying botany at Cornell Univeristy, McClintock was a notable scientist and cytogeneticist. She studied chromosomes intensely and discovered the processes of genetic recombination and crossing-over during meiosis by studying corn. She also discovered the transposition of genes in Indian corn and from this discovery, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
3. Mildred Dresselhaus
Dresselhaus was coined "the Queen of Carbon", due to her work on graphite, graphite intercalation compounds, fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and low-dimensional thermoelectrics. She achieved her undergraduate degree at Hunter College in New York City, a postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge and Harvard University, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. In 1985, she also became the first female institute professor at MIT. While having won numerous awards for her work, in 2014 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama due to the large impact of her discoveries.
4. Lynn Margulis
Pursuing a Bachelor of Arts from the Univeristy of Chicago in liberal arts and a Master's degree in genetics and zoology, Margulis became a pioneer in her field with the theory of endosymbiosis, which initially drew criticism from research publications. This theory stated that organelles, such as chloroplasts and mitochondria, present in cells were once bacteria themselves. This criticism was finally silenced after the theory was proven in 1978.
5. Flossie Wong-Staal
Originally from Hong Kong, Wong-Staal moved to the United States to pursue her post-secondary education and received her Bachelor's degree in bacteriology and Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California Los Angeles. In 1973, she joined the National Cancer Institute and studied retroviruses. In 1983, Wong-Staal and her research team identified the HIV retrovirus as the causative agent of AIDS, and from that, completed the genetic mapping of the virus.