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Badass Ladies of Science and Technology: A Listicle

We’ve profiled many awesome women this month, including Zitkala-Å a, Decca Mitford and Miné Okubo.  I thought I’d do something a little different today and give you a whole list to enjoy on a Tuesday afternoon.  These ladies are not only bookish and clever, they’ve each done something to change the world or the way we look at it.

Ellen Ochoa (born May 10, 1958) In 1993, Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina to travel to space, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.  She’s authored and co-authored numerous patents relating to optical technology as used in automatic space exploration.  Currently, she’s the Deputy Director of Johnson Space Center.

Maria Mitchell (August 1, 1818 ““ June 28, 1889) Mitchell was an American astronomer, the first woman to hold the job in the states.  She was the second woman to ever discover a comet, which earned her a gold medal prize from King Frederick VI of Denmark.   In addition to her work as an astronomer, Maria Mitchell taught at Vassar, fought to end slavery and with the suffragettes, and co-founded the American Association for the Advancement of Women.  While working at Vassar, Mitchell discovered her salary was less than those of her male peers, even those who were younger and with less experience.  She fought for and won a raise.

Barbara McClintock (June 16, 1902 ““ September 2, 1992) McClintock, a cytogeneticist, won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of genetic transposition.  She is the only woman to win an unshared Nobel Prize in this category.  McClintock’s work with maize genes has unlocked many mysterious about genetic behavior.

Mae Jemison (born October 17, 1956) Mae Jemison is a former astronaut and physician.  She was the first American woman of color to enter space, when she flew on the space shuttle Endeavor in 1992.  Jemison wanted to be a scientist when she was a little girl, and had a lifetime fascination with space, deciding joining the space program would we easier than waiting to be abducted by aliens.

Lillian Moller Gilbreth (May 24, 1878 ““ January 2, 1972) You may know of Lillian Moller Gilbrath as part of the mother/father team of industrial engineers from the book Cheaper by the Dozen, written by her children, Frank Jr. and Ernestine. Lillian Gilbreth was one of the first working women engineers with a PhD in the US.  She worked primarily with her husband, and their work in time and motion study may have developed from trying to manage a very large family.   Or perhaps the very large family was created to test some of their theories.   Either way, Lillian Gilbreth was a trailblazer who lived her entire life in motion.

Gertrude Elion (January 23, 1918 ““ February 21, 1999) Winner of a shared Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine in 1988, Elion’s research as a biochemist and pharmacologist let to the development of AZT, a revolutionary drug cocktail that has been able to significantly lengthen the lives of those who are HIV-positive.

Mary Appelhoff (June 11, 1936 – May 4, 2005) Mary Appelhoff was a biologist, and after writing Worms Eat My Garbage in 1988, she became known as The Worm Woman.  Appelhoff spent her career teaching others about the miraculous powers of earthworms to help sustain our environment.

Sylvia Earle (born August 30, 1935) Known as “Her Deepness” or “Sturgeon General” at National Geographic, where she serves as Explorer-in-Residence, Earle is a renowned aquanaut and deep sea explorer.  Earle has led over 400 missions to previously unexplored or unexamined areas in our oceans.  She’s also an expert on spills, and consulted on the impact of the Exxon Valdez spill.

Grace Hopper (December 9, 1906 ““ January 1, 1992) In addition to being a Rear Admiral and computer specialist for the US Navy, Grace Hopper envisioned the first machine-independent computer language, which led to COBOL, and also can be credited with the widespread use of the term ‘debugging.’  While in current lingo, that means fixing buggy code, in Hopper’s case she was actually removing a moth from a computer.  Nicknamed Amazing Grace by the Navy, they ended up naming a Destroyer after her.

Ellen Swallow Richards (December 3, 1842 ““ March 30, 1911) Ellen was a woman of many firsts.  She was the first woman to be admitted to MIT, she was the first woman to teach at MIT, she was the first American woman to ever be admitted to any science program in any university and she was the first woman to earn a degree in chemistry.   In addition to teaching at MIT, Richards was a prominent industrial and environmental chemist.  She was a founding eco-feminist, who believed work women did around the house had value to the economy, as well as a self-described pragmatic feminist.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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