Ada Lovelace Day blasts from the past: the science and technology Hoydens

I always enjoy spending Ada Lovelace Day reading about amazing women. However, due to timezones it hasn’t really heated up yet but luckily there’s advance reading in the Friday Hoyden archives. I thought others might enjoy a round-up of Friday Hoydens past in science and technology too.

Feel free to discuss these Hoydens in comments, or link to your favourite ALD posts as they come in.

Dagmar Berne:

Berne was thus the first woman to study Medicine in an Australian university, on a theoretically equal footing with men. The Dean of Medicine, Professor Anderson Stuart, is said to have protested her admission, and she faced hostility from her fellow students…

Berne excelled in her studies in Britain, with no further failures as she had suffered under her Sydney professors. She became one of only eleven women to be awarded the Triple Qualification: diplomas from the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow… Berne… became the second woman ever registered with the Medical Board of New South Wales, after Constance Stone.

Mahananda Dasgupta:

Dasgupta’s research takes place at the heavy-ion accelerator facility and investigates quantum tunnelling when heavy nuclei collide. Her Pawsey Medal award in 2006 cites cutting-edge contributions includ[ing] precision measurements of unprecedented accuracy.

Dasgupta moved to Australia from India for a postdoctoral position in the 1990s, and eventually was appointed to a tenured position in 2003. She became the first woman to hold a tenured position in the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering at the ANU in its entire 50+ years of existence!

Claudia Alexander:

I saw this marvelously enthused woman on my television last night as one of the experts on the Voyage to the Planets series, talking about her time as project manager at JPL for the final stage of the Galileo space probe’s extended mission in the orbit of Jupiter, where additional orbits gathered information particularly about the moons Europa and Io after the primary mission had fulfilled its 2 year overview study of the Jovian system.

Grace Hopper:

As a child of seven she notoriously took not only her own alarm clock apart, but then another six alarm clocks in the house trying to figure out how to put her own clock back together: when she was discovered she was restricted to tinkering with just one clock. This charming story is an early sign of a love of gadgets, fully supported by her parents, that never left her…

Amazing Grace was one of the pioneers of viewing computers as more than just giant calculators, and advocating their potential as key elements of information systems. She was also a renowned mentor of all information technicians, and particularly of women in maths and science careers.

Peggy Whitson and Pamela Melroy:

This is the first time in history that two female mission commanders have been in orbit simultaneously – and they’ve now met in space…

On October 11, 2000 Lt. Col. Pamela Ann Melroy USAF, aged 39, became the third woman to make her debut flight as pilot. She was promoted to Commander in 2006, the second woman ever to command a shuttle crew, just as Eileen Collins retired…

Born in Iowa, Peggy Whitson set her course for science… Whitson’s first stint on the ISS was a six-month tour of duty in 2002, installing equipment and conducting investigations in human life sciences and microgravity sciences. Whitson is currently serving as Commander of the International Space Station for Expedition 16.

Elizabeth Blackburn:

Dr Blackburn was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine for her joint discovery of Telomerase, an enzyme that replenishes a protective structure at the end of chromosomes called the telomere, an enzyme with exciting implications for the study of cancer and human longevity…

Dr Blackburn also owns another notable distinction: that of being fired by the Bush administration

For just doing what I do, which is to say “get the science right, get the science right.” That wasn’t a very popular attitude in the Commission or the Council that I was serving on as an advisor.

Jane Goodall:

Jane Goodall was probably the second female scientist I ever heard about (the first being Marie Curie) and of course amidst the fêting what I heard was that she wasn’t really a scientist at all, because she Wuz Doin’ It Rong…

But what Goodall discovered about the chimpanzees in Gombe National Park made biologists, psychologists and philosophers look more closely at the great apes and their similarities to humans, provoking redefinitions of exactly what it meant to be human, and raising the question of just how far back in pre-history should paleo-anthropologists be looking for clues to the development of human behaviours.

Categories: linkfest, medicine, Science, technology

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5 replies

  1. Mary, thanks so much for this round-up! How lovely to revisit some of these inspirational women.

  2. Thanks tigtog. I knew I had to do one when Lauredhel’s lovely entry on Dagmar Berne came up in related posts on my Dasgupta post.

  3. Goodall was probably the second female scientist I heard of too.

  4. I think after Marie Curie I came across women scientists next in Margaret Wertheim’s Pythagoras’ Trousers: God, Physics, and the Gender Wars, which introduced me to other historical women mathematicians and physicists, so Sophie Germain and Lise Meitner for example. (Worth a read for the history, the concluding section about how a more gender-equal physics would spend less money on particle accelerators I didn’t find so convincing, but it’s a short part of the book.) Goodness knows when I actually encountered the name of a living woman scientist.

  5. Thanks for this article! I definitely learned some new names.
    My father is the one who first told me about Grace Hopper back when I was in high school in the late 1970s. I don’t think he ever met her but he was in the US Navy (reserve corp by that time) so that’s how he knew about her. I was planning to study computer science (got my BS/CS in 1982) so Hopper was a great role model.

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