10 Famous Scientific Discoveries With Suppressed Female Contributors

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There are very few woman scientists in history, known to have made great discoveries and inventions. This leads to the misconception that the contribution of woman in science is very meagre. The fact is, woman had made amazing discoveries only to have them robbed by men and hidden by a male dominated society. This article throws light on some of such discoveries.

10. The Structure of DNA

structure for DNA
In the year 1962, Scientist Francis Crick was awarded a Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, along with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins who worked with him on the endeavor.

Rosalind Franklin from Britain played a vital role in the discovery of DNA structure and her observations were highly critical for Crick and James. Sadly, she passed away four years before her fellow workers received the Award. Her colleagues who made use of her observations left her un-recognized and stated that she was insignificant in the discovery and not eligible to be honored.

A study on her career history showed that even if she was alive, she would not have been recognized for her mind-blowing works. (reference)

9. Pulsars

In the year 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who was then a Cambridge University Student in England, discovered Pulsars.

A pulsar is a Pulsating Radio Star which is a highly magnetized, rapidly rotating neutron star which emits regular pulses of radio waves and a beam of electromagnetic radiation.

This great finding was chosen for a Nobel Prize – the Award in Physics (1974). However, it was given to Anthony Hewish, who was Burnell’s supervisor and Martin Ryle, who was also a radio astronomer at Cambridge University.

8. Replica Plating

Replica Plating
Esther Lederberg who is well known for discovering a virus called ‘Lambda Bacteriophage’ that infects bacteria, also played a significant role in the discovery of ‘Replica Plating’.

Joshua Laderberg was Esther’s first husband, who worked with her in discovering Replica Plating – a way to transfer bacterial colonies from one petri dish to another. This discovery led to the study about antibiotic resistance.

Joshua Lederberg was awarded 1958 Nobel Prize for physiology or medicine for the discovery of Replica Plating and it was shared with George Beadle and Edward Tatum.

7. Disproving The Law of Parity

Brilliant Female Physicist
Chien-Shiung Wu was one of the best experimental physicists in the 1940s. She was recruited by the Columbia University for the Manhattan Project and for researches on Radiation Detection and Uranium Enrichment.

Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang who were theoretical physicists, sought Wu’s help to disprove the law of parity. Wu conducted experiments using Cobalt-60 which is a radioactive form of cobalt metal to disprove the law.

This milestone was chosen for 1957 Nobel Prize and was awarded to Yang and Lee and not Chien-Shiung Wu, though her contribution was critical.

6. Nuclear Fission

Nuclear Fission
Lise Meitner’s research was instrumental in the discovery of Nuclear Fission, which in turn laid the foundation for the discovery of atomic bomb.

Meitner completed her doctoral degree at the University of Vienna and shifted to Berlin in the year 1907, where she started working with the chemist Otto Hahn.

Hahn conducted experiments that provided some supporting evidence for the idea of nuclear fission. However, he was unable to come up with proper explanation. It was Meitner who came up with the theory.

Hahn won the 1944 Nobel Prize in chemistry for his contributions to Nuclear Fission, while Meitner was left un-recognized.

5. Period-Luminosity Relationship

Period-Luminosity Relationship
Henrietta Leavitt’s discoveries laid the foundation for many scientific studies about the Universe. Leavitt’s work started in the Harvard Laboratory where she was assigned the task of cataloging stars for her male supervisors and superiors.



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