Women's History Month: Innovators
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Florence Nightingale2 of 11
By Natasha Burton
This nurse, whose medical efforts during the Crimean War lowered the death rate among solders from 42 percent to 2 percent, is credited with creating the field of professional nursing. Her book Notes on Nursing was used for educating both those studying in the classroom and at home.
Elizabeth Blackwell3 of 11
As the first identified women to graduate from medical school and the first female doctor in the United States, this woman broke the barriers barring her sex from professional education. Not only did she pay her own way through school, she also kept going even after an infection caused her to have her eye removed and replaced with glass.
Gertrude B. Elion4 of 11
As the recipient of the 1988 Nobel Prize, this biochemist’s contribution to medicine was extremely important. While she was never able to attain a Ph.D. (due to being discriminated against for being a woman), she was the first woman to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame for her discovery of new drugs that led to the development of the AIDS drug AZT.
Françoise Barré-Sinoussi5 of 11
This French virologist was instrumental in discovering that HIV is the cause of AIDS, and she received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2008 for her work. The following year, she wrote to the Pope protesting his statement that condoms are ineffective in preventing HIV/AIDS.
Ruth Handler6 of 11
While this woman’s contribution to society may not be of the scientific or medical variety, her influence was significant. As the inventor of Barbie, Ruth created a pop-cultural phenomenon that’s brought joy to young girls for over 50 years. Barbie was the first doll to look like a woman, a far departure from the baby-mimicking dolls available at the time of her debut.
Amelia Earhart7 of 11
As an aviator, this woman set numerous records, including the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and she organized other women to follow in her footsteps. While she tragically disappeared trying to circumnavigate the globe, the memory of her trailblazing spirit continues to inspire women today.
Valentina Tereshkova8 of 11
This woman also had a hunger for flight, and she became the first woman, and the first civilian, in space. Born in a village in central Russia, she was one of 400 applicants who wanted to pilot Vostok 6 in 1963, and during the three-day expedition she collected data on her body’s reaction to space flight.
Clara Barton9 of 11
During the Civil War, Clara organized a way to get medical supplies and deliver them to soldieries on the battlefield, even going to the front lines herself when needed. After networking with Susan B. Anthony of the women’s suffrage movement and Frederick Douglass of the civil rights movement, she worked to establish what we know today as the American Red Cross.
Emilie du Chatelet10 of 11
This French mathematician commentated on and translated Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica, which remains the standard French translation of that work. Plus, she was a wife and a mother and also had a love affair with Voltaire.
Marie Curie11 of 11
Arguably one of the most famous female scientists in history, this Polish-born physicist and chemist was the first women to be honored with a Nobel Prize (and the first person to be honored twice!) for her advancements in the field of radioactivity.