But how many others could you name?
Dorothy Hodgkin (1910 – 1994) a British biochemist who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1964 for her work in protein crystallography and mapped the structure of penicillin. The only British woman to have won a Nobel in the sciences, the newspapers of the day celebrated her win with headlines such as "Oxford housewife wins Nobel".
Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958) an English chemist and X-ray crystallographer who’s research encompassed RNA, DNA, graphite, coal and viruses. At 33, she was hard at work on a yet-to-be-published discovery that would revolutionize biology, the structure of DNA. Unbeknown to her a colleague passed on her findings to Watson and Crick. Not only did they take the credit for her findings, but Watson used their friendship to convince Rosalind that she should publish her findings after theirs, making her work look like a confirmation not a discovery. Watson and Crick went on to win the Nobel Prize for their “discovery” while Franklin is largely forgotten.
Cecilia Payne (1900 – 1979) the first woman to earn a PhD in astronomy at Cambridge, publishing six papers and earning her doctorate by 25, her biggest discovery was what elements made up the stars. You might think that was a pretty big thing, not her male colleagues. One Henry Norris Russell, in charge of reviewing her work, persuaded her not to publish because her discoveries was contradictory to the standard model of the time, and wouldn’t be accepted. Four years later the same Henry Norris Russell was miraculously credited with “discovering" the sun’s composition. To add insult to injury Payne was subsequently “honoured” with the Henry Norris Russell Prize for her contributions to astronomy.
Ada Lovelace (1815 – 1852) a gifted mathematician and daughter of Lord Bryon, introduced many computer concepts and is widely considered to be the first computer programmer. When asked to translate an article on Babbage's analytical engine she added her own notes, three times longer than the original article. She described how codes could be created to handle letters and symbols, along with numbers, and theorized a method for repeating a series of instructions, a process known as looping that computer programs use today. In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defence named a newly developed computer language "Ada," after her.
Grace Hooper (1906 – 1992) an American computer scientist and United States Navy Rear Admiral who invented the first compiler for a computer programming language. She was also instrumental in the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages. In addtion to which she popularised the use of the term 'bug' for an error/fault in a computer program, recording in her notebook a moth found between the relays on the Harvard Mark II computer she was working on, which had casued it to crash. She was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2016 and has a guided-missile destroyer and supercomputer named after her.
Mária Telkes (1900 – 1979) a Hungarian-American scientist and inventor who worked on solar energy technologies and is often referred to as the ‘"sun queen" for her work on the use of salts to store solar energy. During her time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology she invented the first thermoelectric power generator in 1947, designed the first solar heating system and the first thermoelectric refrigerator in 1953. She also invented a miniature solar powered desalination unit for use on lifeboats that saved the lives of countless airman and sailors who would have otherwise been without fresh water when abandoned at sea.
I've barely begun to scratch the surface in the short-list above so try googling ‘famous’ or ‘forgotten’ women scientists sometime, I think you’ll be surprised at what you find.