By Harry Jones and Jacob Herd, Expect Everything young correspondents from Ireland

17th and 18th century


Science was becoming wildly popular throughout the world at this time in history. People were questioning more and looking for answers.  In this time women were viewed as intellectually inferior so getting into science was much more difficult.  Margret Cavendish a 17th century aristocrat was once of the first advocates for women in science. Her 1666 book “Observations Upon Experimental Philosophy” both encouraged women to get into the sciences and critiqued the science of Francis Bacon.

Image of Margaret Cavendish, accompanied by the symbol of a book

Margaret Cavendish

Laura Bassi was the first woman to earn a university chair in a scientific field. She was also the third woman to obtain a university degree in the western world. Towards the end of the 18th century she also became the world’s first female professor.

Laura Bassi

Charlotte Frolich was the first female historian in Sweden and was also the first woman to be published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. 7 years later Eva Ekebald became the first woman inducted into the organisation.

An image of female scientist Eva Ekebald accompanied by the symbol of a grain, to denote her career as an agriculturalist

Eva Ekebald

19th and 20th century

The latter part of the 19th century saw a rise in education for women. All around the UK schools for girls were set up. The Crimean war also gained Florence Nightingale high regard and with her public following she was allowed to set up a school for nursing.

An image of Florence Nightingale accompanied by a stethoscope symbol to denote her interest in nursing and medicine

Florence Nightingale

In the early 20th century Marie  Skłodowska-Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel prize in physics and then went on to become a double Nobel Prize winner in 1911 for chemistry. Only three other people in history have won two Nobel prizes.

In 1998 the L’Oréal-UNESCO Awards for Women in Science were set up. One award is given for each geographical region of Africa, the Middle East, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, The Caribbean and North America. These awards were set up to reward and acknowledge innovative women in science and further encourage women to go into the sciences.

Learn more

Here is also a link to a great video about some other important female scientists in history.

Be inspired!

Marie Maynard Daly

The first female African-American to get a PHD in Chemistry

“Courage is like – it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: you get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging”.

An image of scientist Marie Skłodowska-Curie accompanied by a symbol of the atom

Marie Skłodowska-Curie

Double Nobel Prize Winner

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”