The Science World is Run by Women

Alana Lewis, Staff Writer

The world of science is one of pioneering and procedures, revelations and research. Many famous scientists are household names, such as Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton. However, not many people know the discoveries that occurred due to the intellect and intelligence of a woman’s mind. Two female scientists that were examples of character, defiance, strength, ambition, creativity, and acumen are Lise Meitner and Rosalind Franklin.

Lise Meitner – This female scientist was born on November 7, 1878, in Vienna, Austria. Her family was relatively wealthy and cultured, supporting her, yet leaving her with independence. As an article on Lise Meitner from www.famousscientists.org states, “Her [Lise Meitner’s] mother told them: “Listen to your father and me, but think for yourself” (“Lise Meitner”). From a young age, Lise was excelling in her academics. When most girls in Meitner’s time reached the age of 14, they would end their schooling and not proceed to college. Yet Lise was determined to complete her education, and with the encouragement of her father, she became one of the few women who earned a Ph.D. in physics. Since women were not permitted into many laboratories, nor to take certain classes, Meitner had many failures in finding a job or suitable place to research. But remaining diligent, Meitner finally did find a place to continue her research and a job in chemistry. One of her prominent research partners, Otto Hahn, made many discoveries and attempts at discoveries. Yet the most important discovery of Mietner’s career was made with her nephew, Otto Frisch. This discovery is nuclear fission, (a heavy nucleus splits and releases an enormous amount of energy) and the astonishing amount of power it has.

During the time of this discovery, World War II was going on, and due to both Meitner’s and his safety, Otto Hahn downplayed Meitner’s part in the discovery, though after the war, he continued to downplay her role, and in 1994 Otto Hahn alone was rewarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of nuclear fission, which he did not discover at all. The prize being given to Otto Hahn alone was under extreme controversy, and in 1997 Meitner was given an even greater honor when the element 109 was named Meitnerium, in honor of Meitner herself. Through wars, failure, stereotypes, being downplayed, and at last success, Lise Meitner is an example of how to keep faith in what you believe, as well as keeping faith in yourself, and also relying on your intelligence to get you through hard times.

Rosalind Franklin – Was born on July 25, 1950, in London, England. Franklin began going to high school at only 11 years old before attending Cambridge University to study physical chemistry. After spending three years there, supported by her mother, she took her final tests, passing at the top in her chemistry class. After researching the properties of coal, a vital resource in the war, Franklin got her Ph.D., and moved to Paris to study the atomic structure of coal using X-ray diffraction. Rosalind was then recruited to work in King University’s laboratory in studying DNA. Later, she and her partner, Raymond Gosling discovered a type of DNA that was not realized to exist in the past. This was important because it more or less discredited research done on DNA in the past, because scientists were studying the DNA as only one type, type A, when in reality, there was a second type, type B.

Rosalind Franklin dealt with many failures when doing research and going through school, yet she never let these failures stop her from believing in her goal. She was a perfectionist, and tried her best in everything she did, making her an excellent role model for all people today.

The science world can be discouraging. There will be failures and losses, misunderstandings, and inaccurate hypotheses. The world of science is not for the faint of heart. Many women have braved this world, and dedicated their entire lives to their passion, science! As you go through your life, don’t forget to take a moment to realize and thank the women that have worked and still work in the science field who gave you many of the inventions, knowledge, and rights that you have today.

Sources:

  • famousscientists.org
  • “Lise Meitner.” Famous Scientists – List and Biographies of Most Famous Scientists and Inventors in History, 28 Sept. 2016, www.famousscientists.org/lise-meitner/.