Our pick of the most inspirational women in science

We asked our Science team to chose their favourite women in science. It was a struggle, but here’s who they came up with. Let us know yours in the comments!

Photo of SophieCommissioning Editor Sophie chose Hedy Lamarr, pioneer of spread spectrum technology. Lamarr’s Secret Communication System was intended to protect Allied torpedoes from Axis jamming during WWII and was adopted by the US Navy in the 1960s. She was also a famous Hollywood star!

Photo of GuyEditor Guy says, “Margaret Oakley Dayhoff is my favourite – the founder of bioinformatics and computational biology, and staggeringly smart! She needs more recognition.”

Photo of SadieDevelopment Editor Sadie chose the fossil collector and paleontologist Mary Anning. She says, “I grew up on the Jurassic coast, where she lived, so I knew about her from local history and I also used to go fossil collecting (in fact, I still do when I’m back in the area!)”

Photo of LamornaCommissioning Editor Lamorna says, “Mary Fairfax Somerville was a self-taught mathematician and physicist in the mid-1800s. She wrote translations of Newton and Laplace and several books of her own, where she added clear explanations, examples in familiar contexts, and illustrations in order to make the most complex calculations and concepts accessible to a wider audience. These books were used in universities for many years due to their comprehensiveness and ease of explanation.”

Photo of SarahAssistant Editor Sarah says, “My chosen scientist is Karen Horney – a German psychoanalyst who worked on the idea of ‘self’, women’s position in society, and anxiety. Her own experience with depression led her to study psychology. She is credited as being the founder of feminist psychology – with her work disagreeing with Freud’s view that all women wanted to be men – believing that gender was not the main basis of an individual’s personality. She also worked on anxiety, arguing it can be caused by the environment we live in and not just our biology.”

Photo of Carwen

Commissioning Editor Carwen chose Ada Lovelace, who is considered to be the computer programmer. She recognised that the Analytical Engine had possibilities beyond pure calculation, stating that it ‘might act upon other things besides number… the Engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent’.