Here’s a riddle for you:
A father and a son have a car accident. They are taken to the hospital to be checked for injuries. The surgeon comes, looks at the son and says “I can’t operate this boy, he is my son.”
How can this be?
More than a half of the people who hear this riddle come up with answers as “the son is adopted”, but rarely do they remember that the surgeon might actually be a woman who is his mother. This is a great example of the hidden gender bias that many of us carry, without even being aware of it. And while throughout history the media portrayed and the world saw men as those who did most of the incredible discoveries and changed the world, there are plenty of women who did the same, and often they were never given credit for their remarkable work.
So, here are four women that we rarely hear about, who have made remarkable discoveries that changed and improved our lives:
- Valentina Tereshkova
“If women can be railroad workers in Russia, why can’t they fly in space?”
In her earlier life, Valentina Tereshkova was just an ordinary Russian woman that worked in a textile factory. Later on, in June of 1963, she became the first woman to ever fly in space. She graduated and earned a doctorate as a cosmonaut engineer. A year after her flight in space, Tereshkova gave birth to her daughter Elena, who is actually the only person in the world whose mother and father both traveled into space, as her father was also a cosmonaut.
- Hedy Lamarr
“Films have a certain place in a certain time period. Technology is forever.”
Did you know that the concept of what we have today as modern WiFi was actually invented by a woman? Many people know her as a famous Austrian-born American actress and a Hollywood beauty, but Hedy Lamarr was a lot more than that. She was a self-taught inventor that in her spare time would conduct various of experiments, and explore areas of mathematics, physics and technology. During World War II, Lamarr developed a “radio frequency-hopping device” with the help of a friend who was a pianist. This device transmitted signals without them being jammed, creating the basis of what today is WiFi.
- Rosalind Franklin
“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.”
Rosalind Franklin was an English X-ray crystallographer and chemist that made the remarkable discovery of DNA. Yes, if two men by the name Crick and Watson come to your mind as those who discovered DNA, you should know that Rosalind Franklin was the one that captured the first X-ray images of DNA in human history. However, in 1962 two men were given the Nobel Prize for this discovery, stating that even though Franklin should get the award, the Nobel Committee doesn’t make posthumous nominations. Franklin passed away only four years prior to Crick and Watson getting the award, after a battle with ovarian cancer at only 37 years old. Unfortunately, the saddest part of her story isn’t even the fact that she didn’t get the award, but that to this day the world fails to give her the credit she deserves or her discovery.
- Margaret Hamilton
Way before computers were so advanced that you could write code and create all kinds of programs on them, Margaret Hamilton wrote code by hand. And not any code, but the code for the Apollo Space Program, the space program that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (yes, there was another guy with him! In fact, he is the one from the famous “man on the Moon” picture!) on the Moon. This code was contained in folders that put one over another created a pile taller than Hamilton herself! She was only 33 when she wrote the code.
What do all these women teach us? The important lesson that we are as capable as men to achieve things as professionals in any field. Giving young women the opportunity to learn, encouraging their curiosity and teaching them to embrace themselves the way they are creates a world where everyone is equal and where everyone is indeed - remarkable.