What are the core elements necessary to become a scientist? Maybe knowledge or years of experience? Yes, definitely these qualities. But there are some things way more important! Love and persistence! These are what made the following women scientists pioneers in their fields.
Photo credit: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Vera-Rubin
Vera Rubin, an American astronomer, offered to the scientific community and to the whole world something beyond words. Her discoveries in the galaxy rotation problem supported the evidence of dark matter. Vera was very curious in astronomy from a very young age and she said ‘’Even then I was more interested in the question than in the answer, I decided at an early age that we inhabit a very curious world.’
Photo credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katie_Bouman
Katie Bouman (a computer engineer) despite her young age (30 years old) achieved something really amazing. Katie gave to the whole world in 2019 the opportunity to see how a black hole looks for the first time. In collaboration with a team of 200 scientists (working on the Event Horizon Telescope project) she developed a series of algorithms that converted telescopic data into the historic image. Katie emphasises the importance of collaboration and equal opportunities for all. In her words: “I’d like to encourage all of you to go out and help push the boundaries of science, even if it may at first seem as mysterious to you as a black hole.”
Photo credit: http://www.rabiasaid.org/2018/02/second-testing.html
A brilliant example of persistence, courage and self-belief is that of Rabia Sa’id, a Nigerian physicist who struggled against cultural stereotypes and poverty. Quoting her words: "Within that time, all my classmates had finished university and were working, and I was just a housewife, and I wanted to also be in their league". While she was a mother of three children, she returned to school and obtained her Ph.D. degree. She won the Elsevier Foundation Award for research that aims to solve Nigerian environmental challenges in Physics, and she is now working as a deputy dean of student’s affairs at Bayero University. Rabia fought against social stereotypes in a country where girls' education is struggling to be recognized, and she is a winner.
Examples of women scientists with brilliant achievements and recognitions are numerous. Yet, some women’s road to education and success was more difficult than others. These women had one thing in common: they set their own limit and pushed hard to overcome it. Even if success has a different meaning to each of us, one thing is for sure. We are our own limit and we are our own motivational power.
With thanks - this article was written by Stella Manoli.