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Women in Science

Women have long been integral to the advancement of science, yet their contributions have often been overlooked or undervalued. As we approach the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11th, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the significant role that women play in shaping the landscape of scientific discovery.

Despite facing systemic barriers and biases, women continue to excel in various scientific disciplines, driving innovation and progress forward. This serves as a reminder of the importance of promoting gender equality in STEM fields and recognising the achievements of women and girls in scientific fields worldwide.



Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867-1934) is one of the most famous scientists of all time. She was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel prize and the first person (and still the only woman) to win two Nobel prizes (for physics in 1903 and for chemistry in 1911). However, she had been discriminated against as a scientist; for example, her membership application to the French Academy of Sciences was turned down even though she had already won her first Nobel prize. Several prejudiced campaigns were also conducted against Curie, such as false rumours spread by the right-wing press, which included claims that she was Jewish and not truly French, and thus unworthy of a place in the French Academy.

In this book, written by the scientist’s daughter, Ève Curie, it is possible to discover Marie Curie’s life from an insider perspective. From her childhood in Poland to her storybook Parisian marriage to fellow scientist Pierre Curie, to her tragic death from the very radium that brought her fame, this timeless biography celebrates an astonishing mind and an extraordinary woman’s life.


Ève Curie Labouisse, a journalist and humanitarian, is best known for her biography of her mother, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie. Ève Curie was also known for her staunch public advocacy of the Free French cause after the Nazis occupied France in 1940. After the war, she was a publisher of the French newspaper Paris-Press, and in the early 1950s was a special adviser to the secretary general of NATO. Her other books include “Journey Among Warriors” (Doubleday, Doran, 1943), a best-selling account of her 40,000-mile trip across a series of wartime fronts: North Africa, Iraq, Iran, Russia, India, Burma, and China.


The Lost Women of Science podcast sheds light on the lives and contributions of numerous female scientists, many of whom, unlike Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin, have not yet received widespread recognition. This podcast delves into the stories and achievements of these groundbreaking scientists who have been overlooked due to factors such as their gender, the time period they lived in, or their geographic location. Each season of the series is dedicated to exploring the life of a different scientist, providing not only insights into her scientific endeavours but also delving into the societal and historical contexts that shaped her experiences. The podcast also examines how the work of these scientists continues to have relevance in the present day. Each episode of the series focuses on the narrative of one overlooked woman in the field of science, ensuring that their stories are brought to light and appreciated.

Listen here.


Movie: Hidden Figures

The three Academy Awards nominated movie Hidden Figures, based on the homonymous non-fiction book by Margot Lee Shetterly, is a call against inequalities in STEM, being them racial, gender-based, or any other nature. This drama, starring Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner, tells the true story of three African-American female mathematicians (Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson) who worked for NASA during the Space Race.

The movie focuses on the role of the three women, among the first black women to work for NASA, in John Glenn’s Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, the first orbital spaceflight in United States history. Describing all the problems they had as women and African Americans in the 1960s, the story shows how the strength and determination of people like Mary, Katherine and Dorothy still help to this day to break down barriers and enhance equality in the STEM world.


STEM Passion – a Journey Inspired by Women in Science

Despite facing greater barriers in the field of science, women continue to play a crucial role in driving scientific progress across all scientific fields. The exhibition “STEM Passion – a Journey Inspired by Women in Science” by Elisabetta Citterio and Claudia Cagliano celebrates the achievements of women in science, showcasing individuals from diverse backgrounds who have made significant contributions to their respective fields. This exhibition will be hosted at the Rahel Hirsch Center for Translational Medicine at BIH from February 13th to March 12th, 2024.

The opening event on February 13th, organized by the Max Delbrück Center and the Berlin Institute of Health, will aim to celebrate the accomplishments of women in science while increasing their visibility within the scientific community. It seeks to foster networking opportunities among early- and mid-career women, as well as non-binary, trans, and inter scientists from all STEM disciplines. There will be resources available to help participants enhance their public presentation skills on social media and on various other platforms for women scientists. By joining the event, attendees will have the chance to become part of the vibrant community of women in science in Berlin, contributing to a more inclusive and supportive environment for all individuals in STEM.

Want to know more about this topic? Here is a list of selected resources.

More Useful Links

Women Scientists on the Forefront of Climate Action | UN : https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/women-scientists-forefront-climate-action

Women in Science | Science Museum : https://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/objects-and-stories/women-science

Women in Science Tour | Natural History Museum : https://www.nhm.ac.uk/events/women-in-science-tour.html

The STEM Gap: Women and Girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics | AAUW : https://www.aauw.org/resources/research/the-stem-gap/

International Day of Women and Girls in Science | UN : https://www.un.org/en/observances/women-and-girls-in-science-day