Grace Hopper   Maassic

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

Grace Hopper   Maassic

Today is Women in STEM day, for those who may not know STEM stands for; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. At Signify we are advocates for diversity internally and play an active part in supporting diversity events in the tech community, like The Women of Silicon Roundabout, which we are sponsoring this year! Massive Science have created some beautiful GIFs that are essentially character cards, in the style of tarrot cards (which you can also buy a deck of!), for some amazing and inspirational Women who have been made famous through their work in STEM. Check them out below as well as some information on each woman and their successeses in the STEM world...

Mae Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. She attained a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and a bachelor of arts in African and African-American studies, and then went on to earn a doctorate in medicine from Cornell University in 1981. After leaving NASA in March 1993, she went on to teach at Dartmouth College. She also founded her own company, the Jemison Group, which seeks to encourage a love of science in students and bring advanced technology to schools around the world. She is a strong advocate for science and established an international science camp for high school students. 

"Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations...If you adopt their attitudes, then the possibility won't exist because you'll have already shut it out ... You can hear other people's wisdom, but you've got to re-evaluate the world for yourself."

Chien-Shiung Wu was a Chinese-American experimental physicist who made significant contributions in the field of nuclear physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.The discovery of parity violation was a major contribution to high energy physics and the development of the Standard model. In recognition for their theoretical work, Lee and Yang were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1957. Wu received the first Wolf Prize in Physics in 1978 for her experimental work. Wu's book titled Beta Decay (published 1965) is still a standard reference for nuclear physicists.

'It is shameful that there are so few women in science. [...] In China there are many, many women in physics. There is a misconception in America that women scientists are all dowdy spinsters. This is the fault of men. In Chinese society, a woman is valued for what she is, and men encourage her to accomplishments yet she remains eternally feminine.'

Annie J. Easley was an African-American computer scientist, mathematician, and rocket scientist. She worked for the Lewis Research Center of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. When human computers were replaced by machines, Easley evolved along with the technology. She became an adept computer programmer, using languages like the Formula Translating System (Fortran) to support a number of NASA’s programs. She developed and implemented code used in researching energy-conversion systems, analyzing alternative power technology—including the battery technology that was used for early hybrid vehicles, as well as for the Centaur upper-stage rocket. Her contributions to the Centaur project framed the technological foundation for launching future satellites and space vehicles, including the 1997 launch of Cassini to Saturn.

'Don't give up on it. Just stick with it. Don't listen to people that always tell you it's hard, and walk away from it.'

Mary Golda Ross was the first known Native American female engineer, and the first female engineer in the history of Lockheed. She was one of the 40 founding engineers of the renowned and highly secretive Skunk Works project at Lockheed Corporation. As a mathematician and engineer, she wrote a number of professional and theoretical works and was one of the authors of the NASA Planetary Flight Handbook Vol. III, about space travel to Mars and Venus.

'Perfection can be achieved by no one, because perfection is achieved from faults- yet faults tear away the perfection in you.'

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was an English mathematician and writer, chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage's proposed mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She has been described as a Victorian Computer Visionary because from a young age Ada loved machines. She spent hours poring over diagrams of new inventions and eagerly devouring any new periodical journals she could get her hands on. She began to think about how she would design a steam-powered flying machine, studying the anatomy of birds to help her understand the mechanics of flight. She realised that the wings would need to be in proportion to the size of the body, where the steam engine would be located to provide power. Her design preceded the aerial steam carriage, patented by William Henson and John Stringfellow in 1842, by 15 years. Ada was just 12.

'That brain of mine is something more than merely mortal; as time will show.'

Katsuko Saruhashi was a Japanese geochemist who created tools that let her take some of the first measurements of carbon dioxide levels in seawater. She later showed evidence of the dangers of radioactive fallout and how far it can travel. Saruhashi developed the first method for measuring CO2 using temperature, pH, and chlorinity, called Saruhashi’s Table. This method became a global standard. Perhaps more importantly, she discovered that the Pacific Ocean releases more carbon dioxide than it absorbs: a concept with dire consequences today as the climate changes.

Hedy Lamarr, born Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, was an Austrian-born American film actress and inventor. In 1942, during the heyday of her career, Lamarr earned recognition in a field quite different from entertainment. She and her friend, the composer George Antheil, received a patent for an idea of a radio signaling device, or "Secret Communications System," which was a means of changing radio frequencies to keep enemies from decoding messages. Originally designed to defeat the German Nazis, the system became an important step in the development of technology to maintain the security of both military communications and cellular phones. However, she was only posthumously inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.


'Hope and Curiosity about the future seemed better than guarentees. The unknown was always so attractive to me... and still is.'

Vera Florence Cooper Rubin was an American astronomer who pioneered work on galaxy rotation rates. She uncovered the discrepancy between the predicted angular motion of galaxies and the observed motion, by studying galactic rotation curves. She changed the way we think of the universe by showing that galaxies are mostly dark matter. Rubin's affinity to astronomy began at a young age. She was born on July 23, 1928, from two Jewish immigrant parents who encouraged Rubin's scientific interests from the start. Her father helped her build a cardboard telescope, which she used to photograph the motion of stars. Her mother persuaded the librarian to let Rubin checkout science books from the adult section of the local library. But it was mostly Rubin's undying curiosity that drove her.

“There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman.”

And I will leave this blog on that final thought from Vera Rubin back in the 20th century.... 


All images taken from Massive Science.