Sunday, 6 July 2014

My favourite females

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm all for getting more girls into STEM subjects and science outreach is something I'm really passionate about. It's obvious that throughout history, women in science and technology have been overlooked and their ideas and achievements not seen as important as those of their male counterparts. Whilst referring to women who happen to be scientists as 'female scientists' doesn't exactly help with striving for equality between the sexes in STEM fields (afterall we don't refer to men as male scientists), there have been some pretty damn good women in science and I thought I would share my favourites.

This is a list of women from STEM fields who inspire me. I've purposely left Marie Curie out of this list because in case you didn't know, she's not the only women who has played a role in pushing science into the 21st century. Also, some of these women are living today and that's just fab; these women are role models for girls like me and inspire me to continue in my field and make a career out of it in the hope that one day, I'll achieve great things too. So here it is, AWESOME WOMEN ALERT.

1. Hedy Lamarr
In my opinion, one of the most beautiful women ever, Hedy Lamarr also happened to be extremely intelligent. She and George Antheil invented an incredibly sophisticated piece of electronic engineering which they called the 'Secret Communication System' whereby frequency hopping was used to prevent infiltration of signals from radio-controlled missiles. Simultaneously, the radio frequencies of  missiles would change, preventing enemies from detecting the signals.
Hedy Lamarr

Most people would say that she 'doesn't look like a scientist', however she proved that it's possible to have beauty and brains. As a woman, you can have it all, you don't have to choose between being intelligent and being attractive.

The woman who was one of the most popular Hollywood actresses of her day also had a room in her house reserved for drafting ideas and the shelves filled with engineering books. I find the fact that she was extremely creative both inspiring and fascinating because as well as being an actress, she also applied her creativity to engineering and problem solving and helped pave the way for modern day technologies mobile phones.

2. Dorothy Hodgkin
Dorothy Hodgkin won the Nobel prize for Chemistry in 1964 and quite rightly so. X-ray crystallography is a common method used by chemists today and Hodgkin advanced this and discovered the 3D structures of some of the  most important biomolecules. I learnt about Dorothy Hodgkin in one of my lectures about medicine and chemistry. She found the structure of penicillin, a chemical so often used in treatment and therefore made a significant contribution to both chemistry and medicine as often in science structure determines function. She also discovered the 3D structure of insulin and also taught students, notably Margaret Roberts (later Margaret Thatcher).
Dorothy Hodgkin

3. Rosalind Franklin
Rosalind Franklin
When people think about discovery of the structure of DNA, most people associate James Watson and Francis Crick with this amazing feat, after all they were awarded with the Nobel prize in 1962. However what allowed them to recognise the 'double helix' as DNA's structure was the x-ray images of DNA produced by Franklin. She practised x-ray crystallography techniques many times and had received a doctorate in physical chemistry. Unfortunately she died before the Nobel prize was awarded to Watson, Crick and Wilkins (another scientist involved)


4. Helen Sharman 
I love Helen Sharman. It might be because I'm following in her footsteps by doing the same degree at the same University, but nevertheless, she is truly inspirational. She also deserves to be on this list because she was the first British person in space. What's cooler that being an astronaut?

Helen Sharman

5. Natalie Portman
Okay, so when you think of Natalie Portman, you don't automatically think 'scientist' but this woman has serious brains. As well as being my ultimate woman crush and all round Hollywood beauty, she's been published in scientific journals, as well as a writing a paper titled "A Simple Method to Demonstrate the Enzymatic Production of Hydrogen from Sugar." Basically, I want to be Natalie Portman.

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