As Cheddar celebrates phenomenal women during the month of March, we’re taking a second to highlight a few trailblazers who have helped shape the world we live in today through science and technology. Without these innovators, fields like genetics and nuclear physics might have taken a different trajectory.
Rebecca Lee Crumpler
Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African American woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S. She graduated from the New England Female College of Medicine in 1864 and relocated to Virginia following the end of the Civil War to care for newly freed Black Americans. Crumpler also established A Book of Medical Discourse, one of the first medical publications by a Black scientist.
Nettie Stevens, a one-time science and math teacher, pursued a career in genetic research after graduating from Bryn Mawr College with a Ph.D. in cytology. Stevens’ research led to the discovery of the two sex chromosomes in 1905, ultimately proving that biological sex is decided by nature, not nurture.
Physicists Chien-Shiung Wu, known as the “First Lady of Physics” stood on principle even before college, turning down an acceptance at the University of Michigan as the institution did not allow women to enter through its front entrance. Wu was part of the Manhattan Project team that created atomic bombs during World War II.
Marie Van Brittan Brown
Marie Van Brittan Brown was a nurse who worked extremely long hours, often leaving her home empty late into the night. To protect her home, Brown and her husband developed the very first home security system using cameras, microphones, and television monitors. Brown’s invention went on to lay the foundation for closed-circuit television — better known as CCTV — and today’s security systems.
Ellen Ochoa became the first Latina to travel to space when she took off aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. Ochoa logged more than 1,000 hours during four missions, and, back on Earth, she would become the first Latina — and just the second woman ever — to head NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.
Video produced by Megan Pratz, Aly Ellis, and Bella Santos. Article written by Lawrence Banton.
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