History hasn’t always been kind to women. They were denied education. Those that were ‘lucky’ enough to be informally educated couldn’t enter university seminars; those that were formally educated weren’t considered equal to their male peers. Having an opinion was blasphemous, let alone having an intellectual and a scientific one at that. Despite such dark times, many women managed to rise above society’s idea of what they were capable of.
For centuries, womankind has had to strive doubly hard to make itself heard and accepted. Some women not only managed to be heard and accepted but also respected. If making a mark in a male-dominated world was hard, then stepping into the field of science was no less than entering the dragon’s lair, right until the early 20th century. And yet, many commendable women did just that, contributing significantly to the way the world works today.
On the occasion of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, here are a few women who were brave enough to break the norm and make a mark in the field of science.
This 20th-century woman wasn’t just a pretty actress; she was an inventor. Self-taught though she was, Lamarr was known to dabble in technology; she used to call it ‘tinkering hobbies’. Improvising traffic stoplights and modifying the wing design to make planes fly faster were among the things she ‘tinkered’ with. During World War II in 1942, Lamarr, with the help of her friend and pianist George Antheil, actually developed a secret communication system for the US government. While the US Navy couldn’t use inventions made outside of the military, Lamarr’s technology eventually got incorporated into Bluetooth, wi-fi, and CDMA.
Anandi Gopalrao Joshi
Joshi was the first Indian woman to ever graduate with a degree in medicine from the United States. People also say that she was the first Indian woman to set foot on American soil. What’s remarkable about Joshi was that she earned a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree in 1886, when most girls in India weren’t formally educated. Unfortunately, Joshi died of tuberculosis in 1887, before she could practise medicine and be a physician.