March is Women's History Month! Learn more about women in science history and get inspired by these 25 scientists!

Photo collage of twelve female scientists

Women's History Month: 25 Scientists to learn more about!

It's no secret that there have always been women in science. Whether recognized at the time or not, women interested in science have made important discoveries, conducted game-changing research, and pursued careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Uncovering and sharing these stories and encouraging girls to see themselves as future scientists is important, ongoing work for science educators. There are, of course, far too many women in science history to put on a single list, but the more scientists you and your students know about, the better! The list below highlights 25 female scientists respresenting a wide range of science careers. We will be posting another list in coming weeks focused on women in engineering.

We hope seeing lists like this (and the related 16 Women in Engineering to Learn More About) will broaden understanding of science history and help inspire students to learn more about these scientists and to explore related science projects, activities, and careers. For each scientist, we have included a very short biographical note, a link to a hands-on science project or activity related to the scientist's area of study, a link to a relevant science career profile, and a link to a biography to help students learn more about individual scientists. Educators can use this career worksheet to guide student exploration and reflection about STEM careers.

25 Women in Science

Mary Anning: a paleontologist who collected fossils and made important Jurassic discoveries at Lyme Regis, including ichthyosaur, plesiosaur, and pterodactyl skeletons. Experiment with the Creating the Best Cast Fossils project. Career connection: Geoscientist (Biography)
Virginia Apgar: a physician who invented the Apgar score, a standardized assessment system for evaluating the health of newborns. Experiment with the Effects of Exercise: Changes in Carbon Dioxide Output project. Career connection: Physician (Biography)
Alice Ball: a chemist who developed an injectable treatment for leprosy. Experiment with the Why Aren't All Medicines Pills? project. Career connection: Biochemist (Biography)
Linda Buck: a neurobiologist who co-won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for work on olfactory receptors. Experiment with the Smelly Science: A Sniff Test project. Career connection: Neurologist (Biography)
Rachel Carson: an ecologist and conservationist who wrote Silent Spring (1962) about the dangers of pesticides. Experiment with the How Frog Health Predicts Pond Health project. Career connection: Science Writer, Environmental Scientist (Biography)
Gerty Cori: a biochemist who was the first woman in America to win a Nobel prize in science when she co-won in 1947 for work on glycogen metabolism (and what became known as the Cori cycle or lactic acid cycle). Experiment with the Blood Sugar Balancing Act: How Exercise Tips the Scales project. Career connection: Biochemist (Biography)
Marie Curie: a physicist and chemist known for her work with radioactivity and co-discovery of polonium and radium. Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel prize in science (in 1903 in physics). She won again in 1911 in chemistry. Experiment with the See Background Radiation Zoom Through A Cloud Chamber project. Career connection: Physicist (Biography)
Sylvia Earle: a marine biologist and oceanographer dedicated to ocean conservation. Sometimes referred to as the "Sturgeon General," Earle is founder of Mission Blue and has been a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence since 1999. Experiment with the Something's Fishy About That Fertilizer project. Career connection: Marine Biologist (Biography)
Gertrude Elion: a biochemist and pharmacologist who co-developed drugs for leukemia and Azathioprine, the first immunosuppressant used during organ transplants. She shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1988. Experiment with the The Importance of Making Sure a Drug's Aim Is True project. Career connection: Biochemist (Biography)
Rosalind Franklin: a chemist and crystallographer whose X-ray diffraction of images helped uncover the double-helix structure of DNA. Experiment with the Colorful Double Helix, A Gene-ius Activity activity. Career connection: Chemist (Biography)
Jane Goodall, Biruté Galdikas, and Dian Fossey: zoologists and primatologists known for their field work with animals in their natural environments—chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania (Goodall); orangutans in Indonesian Borneo (Galdikas); and gorillas in Rwanda(Fossey).
Experiment with the Test How Migratory Birds Navigate project.
Career connection: Zoologist and Wildlife Biologist (Biography: Goodall, Galdikas, Fossey)
Dorothy Hodgkin: a chemist who developed protein crystallography and used x-ray crystallography to identify or confirm the 3-dimensional molecular structure of penicillin, vitamin B-12, and insulin. She won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964. Experiment with the Playing a Game While Solving Protein Structures project. Career connection: Chemist (Biography)
Henrietta Leavitt: an astronomer who discovered more than 2,400 variable stars and identified the relationship between luminosity and period for cepheid variable stars. Experiment with the How Old Is the Universe? project. Career connection: Astronomer (Biography)
Esther Lederberg: a microbiologist and bacterial geneticist who discovered the lambda phage, a bacterial virus used in the study of gene regulation and genetic recombination. Experiment with the Viruses that Destroy Bacteria project. Career connection: Microbiologist (Biography)
Inge Lehmann: a seismologist and geophysicist whose analysis of seismic wave data led to her 1936 discovery that the Earth has a solid inner core inside a molten outer core. Experiment with the Measuring the Diameter of the Earth's Core with Seismic Waves project. Career connection: Geoscientist (Biography)
Rita Levi-Montalcini: a neurobiologist and co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for co-discovery of the first cellular growth factor identified, Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). Experiment with the Creating a Kidney: How Stem Cells Might Be Used to Bioengineer a Vital Organ project. Career connection: Biochemist (Biography)
Lise Meitner: a physicist whose research focused on radiation and nuclear physics. She was part of a group of scientists who discovered nuclear fission of uranium, a discovery that later led to the Manhattan Project. Experiment with the How Old Is That Rock? Use Radiometric Dating to Find Out project. Career connection: Physicist (Biography)
Sally Ride and Mae Jemison: astronauts. Ride was the first American woman in space in 1983 on the Challenger space shuttle (STS-7). Jemison was the first African American woman in space in 1992 on the Endeavour space shuttle. Experiment with the Build a Two-Stage Balloon Rocket activity. Career connection: Aerospace Engineer (Biography: Ride, Jemison)
Vera Rubin: an astrophysicist whose work on galaxy rotation rates provided evidence that dark matter exists in the universe. Experiment with the Finding the Center of the Milky Way Galaxy Using Globular Star Clusters project. Career connection: Astronomer (Biography)
Sara Seager: an astrophysicist whose research focuses on exoplanets and exoplanet atmospheres. Experiment with the The James Webb Space Telescope's Amazing Multiple Mirrors and Sunshield project. Career connection: Astronomer (Biography)
Nettie Stevens: a geneticist who discovered sex chromosomes (in the same year as Edmund Beecher Wilson). Experiment with the X-inactivation Marks the Spot for Cat Coat Color project. Career connection: Cytogenetic Technologist (Biography)
Marie Tharp: a geologist and oceanographic cartographer who co-created the first scientific map of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Her work helped prove theories of plate tectonics and continental drift. Experiment with the What Volcanoes Tell Us About Plate Tectonics project. Career connection: Cartographer or Photogrammetrist (Biography)

Put a name to the face!

Can you name the female scientists in the image at the top of this page? We've labeled them below to make it easier to know who's who! Click here to view the image larger. If you would like to have students label the image as part of their research, use this version. All of the female scientists pictured are included in this post.

Images of 12 of the 25 women scientists featured with their names indicated.

See also: 16 Women in Engineering to Learn More About

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