Some of the greatest female minds of all time were profoundly influential in science and technology. It is impossible not to feel awed by the bravery and passion these women must have had in order to excel in male-dominated fields in times gone by. Here are inspirational words of wisdom from 10 incredible women from all around the world who will go down in history for their contributions to the STEM fields.
Polish physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, and became the first scientist to be awarded a Nobel Prize in two different categories.
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”
American physicist and astronaut who became the first American woman in space.
“For whatever reason, I didn't succumb to the stereotype that science wasn't for girls. I got encouragement from my parents. I never ran into a teacher or a counselor who told me that science was for boys. A lot of my friends did.”
Mae C. Jemison
American engineer, physicist and astronaut who became the first African-American woman in space
“We look at science as something very elite, which only a few people can learn. That's just not true. You just have to start early and give kids a foundation. Kids live up, or down, to expectations.”
Austrian-Swedish physicist who discovered nuclear fission of uranium.
“Science makes people reach selflessly for truth and objectivity; it teaches people to accept reality, with wonder and admiration, not to mention the deep awe and joy that the natural order of things brings to the true scientist.”
Gertrude B. Elion
American Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and pharmacologist who developed medications to treat leukemia, malaria, meningitis, herpes, and more.
“Don't be afraid of hard work. Nothing worthwhile comes easily. Don't let others discourage you or tell you that you can't do it. In my day I was told women didn't go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn't.”
English primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist who has dedicated her life to conservation and animal rights, and is considered to be the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees.
“My mother always taught us that if people don't agree with you, the important thing is to listen to them. But if you've listened to them carefully and you still think that you're right, then you must have the courage of your convictions.”
Chinese-American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics, and worked on the Manhattan Project.
“It is shameful that there are so few women in science... There is a misconception in America that women scientists are all dowdy spinsters. This is the fault of men.”
Italian neurologist and politician who, together with colleague Stanley Cohen, received the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of nerve growth factor.
“I tell young people: Do not think of yourself, think of others. Think of the future that awaits you, think about what you can do and do not fear anything.”
American marine biologist conservationist and author of Silent Spring, who opposed the use of commercial pesticides and helped launch the modern environmental movement.
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.”
English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who contributed to the discovery of the structure of DNA.
“You look at science (or at least talk of it) as some sort of demoralising invention of man, something apart from real life, and which must be cautiously guarded and kept separate from everyday existence. But science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
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