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Women Who Shaped STEM: The Unsung Heroes of Science

As we reflect on the history of women in STEM, it becomes evident that the contributions of remarkable women have been both substantial and impactful. Despite encountering numerous obstacles, many women in STEM have forged ahead to make their mark on the field, paving the way for future generations of women.

One such trailblazer was Marie Curie, who is considered one of the most significant scientists of the 20th century. Born in Poland in 1867, Curie moved to France in 1891 to study at the Sorbonne. She went on to earn two Nobel Prizes, the first in Physics in 1903 for her work on radioactivity, and the second in Chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of radium and polonium. Curie's groundbreaking work revolutionized our understanding of atoms and radioactivity and paved the way for future advancements in nuclear medicine.

Another pioneer was Dorothy Hodgkin, who is widely considered one of the most important crystallographers of the 20th century. Born in Cairo in 1910, Hodgkin's work focused on the study of large biomolecules, particularly proteins. She is most famous for her work on the structure of important biochemical compounds, including penicillin and vitamin B12. Her contributions to the field earned her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1964, making her the third woman to receive the award.

Rosalind Franklin is another female scientist whose contributions to science cannot be overlooked. Born in London in 1920, Franklin was a crystallographer whose research on X-ray diffraction images was instrumental in discovering the structure of DNA. Despite her significant contributions to this groundbreaking discovery, Franklin was largely overlooked and her work was not recognized until many years later. Franklin passed away in 1958 at the age of 37 from ovarian cancer, and unfortunately did not live to see the extent of her contribution to the field.

When it comes to immunology and antibody research, Dr. Baruj Benacerraf and Dr. Jean Dausset are among the most influential female scientists. Benacerraf was born in Venezuela in 1920 and moved to the United States to attend medical school. She later joined the faculty at Harvard Medical School and went on to discover the genetic basis of the immune response to foreign substances, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1980. Dausset was born in France in 1916 and also earned a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1980 for his work on the genetic basis of the immune system and tissue typing, which revolutionized organ transplantation.

Dr. Susumu Tonegawa is another female scientist who made significant contributions to the field of immunology and antibody research. Born in Japan in 1939, Tonegawa is a molecular biologist whose work on the genetic basis of antibody diversity earned him the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1987. His discoveries have had a profound impact on our understanding of the immune system and the development of new treatments for diseases.

In conclusion, the contributions of women in STEM are both inspiring and essential to the progress and development of the field. Let us continue to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in STEM, while working towards creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for all scientists.

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