These legendary women paved the way for girls in science

Happy Women’s History Month!

Jane Goodall, English primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist, with a chimpanzee in her arms, in 1995. (Apic, Getty Images)

Tuesday marks the start of Women’s History Month, a time to commemorate and celebrate the vital role of women in American history.

It’s a great time to learn more about the powerful women who came before us: Especially in the field of science.

Now more than ever, we see STEM programs and opportunities for girls in the areas of science and math. But it wasn’t always like this. Here’s an interesting piece all about how Women’s History Month came to be, and why the U.S. has been celebrating (and making sure women get their due!) since the 1980s.

Below are 21 photos from Getty Images, showing some female scientist pioneers from throughout the years. Some of these faces you might recognize, and others, you might not. What a perfect time to learn more, this March.

American engineer and astronaut Mae Jemison works in zero gravity in the center aisle of the Spacelab Japan science module aboard OV-105, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, during NASA's STS-47 mission on Sept. 20, 1992. Jemison was a Mission Specialist (MS) on the flight, and became the first Black woman to travel into space. (Getty Images)
Scientist Jane Goodall studies the behavior of a chimpanzee during her research on Feb. 15, 1987, in Tanzania. (Liaison/Getty Images)
NASA scientist Valerie Thomas stands in front of a blackboard with early Landsat Computer Compatible Tapes at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, in this 1979 photo. (NASA/Getty Images)
A close-up of Dr. Virginia Apgar smiling, taken on Jan. 1, 1973. Apgar was an American physician, obstetrical anesthesiologist and medical researcher, best known as the inventor of the Apgar Score, a way to quickly assess the health of a newborn child immediately after birth in order to combat infant mortality. (Getty Images)
Lisa Meitner, Austrian-Jewish scientist who is credited with being one of the first to do research on the development of the atomic bomb, is pictured shortly after her arrival by plane in New York. (Getty Images)
British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey with the skull of a small primate, circa 1940. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Celebrating their return to the surface following a two-week stay on the bottom of the Caribbean in underwater research project Tektite 2, women scientists sip rum drinks from a pineapple after emerging from decompression. Dr. Sylvia Earle, of Los Angeles County Museum, Ann Hartline and Alina Szmant of Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego, California; Secretary Hickel; Dr. Renate True, of Tulane University; and Margaret Ann Lucas, of University of Delaware, are shown. (Getty Images)
Mathmatician Mary Jackson, the first Black woman engineer at NASA, poses for a photo at work at the NASA Langley Research Center in 1977 in Hampton, Virginia. (Bob Nye/NASA/Getty Images)
This is an undated photo of Dr. Margaret Mead, 1901-1978, as she holds an artifact from the Pacific Area. (Getty Images)
This is Austrian-American actress Hedy Lamarr. She's also known for inventing frequency hopping — a method of transmitting radio signals by rapidly changing the carrier frequency among many distinct frequencies occupying a large spectral band. (Corbis via Getty Images)
A portrait of Nobel Prize-winning Israeli scientist Ada Yonath as she poses in her laboratory at the Weizmann Institute, in Rehovot, Israel on March 7, 2002. (Getty Images)
Former Russian cosmonaut and lecturer Valentina Nikolayeva Tereshkova attends a news conference at the Soviet Embassy in London during a tour of England on Oct. 31, 1977. She was the first woman to orbit the Earth in Vostok 6 on June 16-19, in 1963. (Central Press/Getty Images)
Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, a nuclear physicist who spent 30 years researching hormones at the Bronx Veterans Administration Hospital, works in her lab on Oct. 13, 1977, after learning she was one of three American doctors awarded the 1977 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Sharing the honors with her for their work in the field of hormones were Dr. Roger Guillman of San Diego's Salk Institute, and Dr. Roger V. Schally of the Veterans Administration Hospital in New Orleans. (Getty Images)
Dr. Antonia Novello, who, at that time was a nominee to be the new surgeon general, is seen in this photo testifying before the Senate Labor and Resources Committee on Feb. 9 in Washington. When she was later confirmed (in 1990), Novello, then-45, a pediatrician born in Puerto Rico, became the first woman and first Hispanic to serve in the post. (Getty Images)
Barbara McClintock, a Nobel Prize-winning geneticist, is shown holding an ear of corn. (Getty Images)
Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, professor of physics at Columbia University in New York, is shown at work with the apparatus used in experimental work that reportedly has conclusively proven a new and fundamental theory in nuclear physics: the theory of conservation of vector current. Cited as one of the world's foremost experimental physicists, Professor Wu and two associates tested the theory in a lengthy series of experiments. The theory deals with a type of subatomic behavior known as "weak interaction," one of nature's four basic kinds of physical interaction. (Getty Images)
Here's a portrait of Elizabeth Blackwell, who lived from 1821 to 1910, the first woman (in 1849), to receive a medical degree in the U.S. (Getty Images)
Female medical students dissect cadavers during anatomy class at the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia. (Getty Images)
In this Oct. 22, 1947 photo, taken in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Gerty Cori, associate professor of pharmacology and biochemistry in the Washington University School of Medicine is shown. (Getty Images)
Researcher Gertrude Elion gets back to work in the lab after being named a Nobel Prize winner in Medicine. Elion and coworker George Hitchings were chosen for the honor for their work in developing drugs to treat leukemia and AIDS. (Getty Images)
Here's Madame Curie experimenting at the University of Paris. Curie was a physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. (Getty Images)

All photos: Getty Images


About the Author:

Michelle is the Managing Editor of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which writes for all of the company's news websites.