The first computer algorithm. Stellar classification systems. The discovery of new elements, forces, and other building blocks of nature.
Such fundamental discoveries have shaped our understanding of the universe and ourselves. Many were made by women who pursued their research in the face of gender discrimination and did not get the recognition they deserved.
Women have been historically under-represented in physics; progress is happening, but there is much work to be done. Systemic and cultural barriers still exist. Part of making positive change includes celebrating the contributions women have made to science, especially those women overlooked in their time. That’s why Perimeter Institute has created the “Forces of Nature” poster series.
Dr. Claudia Alexander was a specialist in geophysics and planetary science, the last project manager of NASA’s Galileo mission to Jupiter, and served as a project manager and scientist for NASA on the European-led Rosetta mission to land a spacecraft on a comet. She was also a fierce advocate for women and minorities in science.
Vera Rubin was a legendary astronomer who discovered that galaxies have flat rotation curves, the strongest evidence yet for dark matter. This discovery has driven physics theory and experiment for more than 40 years. She also spent her life advocating for women in science and mentored many aspiring female astronomers.
Vivienne Malone-Mayes was one of the first African-American women to earn a PhD in mathematics. An active participant in the civil rights movement, Malone-Mayes fought persistent racism and sexism throughout her long and distinguished career.
Women have made some of the most important discoveries in science. Ada Lovelace was the first computer programmer. Chien-Shiung Wu was a leading experimental physicist of her time. Emmy Noether’s work in symmetry and conservation underpins much of modern physics. Annie Jump Cannon led the development of stellar classification systems. Marie Skłodowska Curie made revolutionary contributions to physics and chemistry. These women were forces of nature.