Historic photos of female scientists at work


23 Responses to “Historic photos of female scientists at work”

  1. Brainspore says:

    Ms. Foster was an important trailblazer for both female scientists everywhere and cartoon ducks alike.

  2. wysinwyg says:

    I can already hear them asking. “Aren’t you doing a disservice to female scientists by singling them out as something special?”

    Singling out women scientists won’t be doing them a disservice until the prompt “name 10 famous scientists off the top of your head” routinely elicits answers including 4 or 5 or (dare I dream?) 6 female scientists instead of, you know, one. Thanks for posting this, Maggie.


  3. arikol says:

    I also think of the first computer programmer (the ENIAC programmers, and of course Ada Lovelace) as examples I want to have visible to my children.
    That kind of suggests that the “girls don’t know math” and “girls don’t know technology” lines are somewhat stupid..

  4. Cowicide says:

    Is this the late unicorn chaser for the 80MPH post?

  5. CRonMorgan says:

    See also, Henrietta Swan Leavitt (1868-1921). As women were not allowed to operate the telescopes in early 20th century, she performed the manual task of computing star luminosity from photographic plates. She went on to discover the luminosity-period relationship of cepheid variable stars. This was ground breaking (sorry, bad pun). @aricol, I used to teach the Ada programming language; always pointed out the genesis of the name to the students.

    • Brainspore says:

      As women were not allowed to operate the telescopes in early 20th century…

      That would be funny if it weren’t so sad… some of the greatest deductive minds of their age acting like a bunch of kindergarteners.

      “Can I look?”

      “NO! You’ll get cooties on it!”

    • Catherine Roberts Shteynberg says:

      You might enjoy the Smithsonian Institution Archives’ blog post on Leavitt and other women “computers” that worked in astronomy labs in the 19th century: http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/pickering-women

      Thanks for calling out Leavitt, who was one amazing woman.

      Catherine Shteynberg
      Smithsonian Institution Archives

  6. suburbanhick says:

    My 7-year-old daughter’s science hero is Lise Meitner. She was SO pissed to learn that Otto Hahn got all the credit just ‘cuz he was a guy. Grrr!!!!

  7. Jeb Adams says:

    Hard to believe no shots of Darleane Hoffman in there. She was in government sponsored posts from about 1953 or so at Oak Ridge and then LANL. 


  8. DeanCutlet says:


  9. petsounds says:

    Smart is sexy. I wonder if there’s a similar collection of women in early computer engineering?

  10. jimmersd says:

    Ms Curie was a ground breaker in the physical sciences. The shame is that there are items of her personal property that still can’t be handled without special protections. Makes me wonder about the antique stuff that can be found at the flea market.

  11. Tynam says:

    XKCD is right, Noether for the win.

    My personal favourite overlooked female scientist right now, however, is WWII crypto nerd Joan Clarke Murray, a name that by rights ought to be nearly as famous as her co-worker (and one-time fiance) Alan Turing. A key member of the Bletchley Park team and critical to Naval Enigma decryption in particular, despite the prejudice against female mathematicians.

    (She was also, later, a big figure for historians interested in Scottish coinage, but that’s not the mathematical achievement I think she should be known for.)

  12. Catherine Roberts Shteynberg says:

    Many thanks to you, 
    Jacquelyn Gill, for your wonderful profile of our “Women in Science” set on the Smithsonian Flickr Commons stream. Our archivists at the Smithsonian Institution Archives, are always thrilled to add photos to this set yearly. It has been incredible to see the detailed research the public has been able to add to some of these women’s profiles, and to see the identifications of unidentified women within the set come in thanks to the generosity of so many.

    We have many sets of images on the Flickr Commons, but this one in particular has generated so much interest and has a special place in my own heart. For those of you who are interested, the Archives is doing profiles about some of these women on our blog. Feel free to hop on over: http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/tag/women%E2%80%99s-history-month and if you have any hunches about those scientists who are still unidentified, please do chime in on Flickr!

    Best,Catherine Shteynberg
    Smithsonian Institution Archives

  13. Brainspore says:

    Somebody missed a golden opportunity for a bad radiation pun. The title should have been “Marie Curie: A Half-Life.”

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