A YouGov survey, conducted a few years ago, found that most UK adults were unable to name a single female scientist. Scary, huh? Although every single one of us benefits from the work of female scientist every day, most are completely unaware of the women behind the innovations.
We love England and everything its clever inhabitants have graced the Earth with, so get ready for some educational reading!
Here are 5 pioneering, English female scientists that you may or not have heard of:
1: Ada Lovelace (1815-1852) – Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. This machine was a predecessor of the modern computer – something many of us just couldn’t live without these days!
2: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (1836-1917) – Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was a pioneering physician and political campaigner. She was the first Englishwoman to qualify as a doctor, paving the way for women wishing to enter the previously male-dominated industry.
3: Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) – Hertha Ayrton was a seriously impressive lady – an engineer, mathematician, physicist, AND inventor! She was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society for her work on electric arcs and discovering that that ripples appear when waves wash over sand, which had previously been a scientific mystery. Be sure to think of Hertha next time you’re exploring a beach!
4: Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) – Rosalind Elsie Franklin was an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer whose work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA, RNA, viruses, coal, and graphite.
5: Anne McLaren FRS (1927-2007) – Anne McLaren was a pioneering scientist who made fundamental advances in genetics which paved the way for the development of in vitro fertilisation. Her ground-breaking work led to the birth of the first test-tube baby.