Inspirational Women in Science (Poster Series)

In the past, the world of science was often seen as somewhat the preserve of men. Luckily in more recent times these perceptions have changed dramatically, with more and more women studying and working in science.

But even before these more enlightened times, women have made a tremendous contribution to the different fields of science (even if they haven't always been credited fully for their work). Some of their amazing work has had a profound effect on how we look at the world today.

To celebrate their outstanding achievements The Open University talked to female scientists currently working in The Faculty of Science. We asked them to share their personal nomination for ‘Outstanding Woman of Science’ and to also share their experiences.  These interviews have been compiled into a ‘Women in Science’ podcast as part of ITunes U.  You can listen to this here and be sure to take a look at the posters we made to commemorate some of the most outstanding and famous female scientists in history.


Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)

James Watson and Francis Crick are credited for determining the structure of DNA, but their discovery relied on research carried out by Rosalind Franklin. As a girl  Franklin attended one of the few girls’ schools in London that taught physics and chemistry, and went on to enroll in Cambridge University, receiving a doctorate in physical chemistry. In 1951 she worked in the laboratory of John Randall at King’s College, London. It was her X-ray images of DNA that helped Watson figure out that the structure was a double helix and, with Francis Crick, published the finding in the journal Nature. Watson, Crick and Wilkins won a Nobel Prize in 1962 for their discovery.


Caroline Herschel (1750 – 1848)

Herschel spent her formative years in Hanover, Germany. She moved to England in 1772 to live with her astronomer brother in Bath. Caroline began assisting her brother in his observations and in the building of telescopes, Caroline became a brilliant astronomer in her own right, discovering new nebulae and star clusters. She was the first woman to discover a comet (she discovered eight in total) and the first to have her work published by the Royal Society. Herschels’ work had increased the number of known star clusters from 100 to 2,500.



Marie Curie (1867 – 1934)

Marie Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win in two fields, and the only person to win in multiple sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.



 Jane Goodall (1934 – present)

Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall is a British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace. Considered to be the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees, Goodall is best known for her 45-year study of social and family interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. She is the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and the Roots & Shoots program, and she has worked extensively on conservation and animal welfare issues. She has served on the board of the Nonhuman Rights Project since its founding in 1996.


Related courses from The Open University:

MSc in Science

BSc (Hons) Natural Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science


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20 August, 2014 - 16:32
Inspirational Women in Science (Poster Series) | The Open University


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