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Category: Science
  • This trailblazing engineer became the first person in history to design a Naval ship using a computer.

    Raye Montague, the groundbreaking engineer and ship designer, smashed both gender and racial barriers to revolutionize Naval ship design and become the U.S. Navy's first female program manager of ships. While Montague was the first person to ever design a ship on a computer, her contributions were little known until Margot Lee Shetterly's book Hidden Figures, which told the story of African American female mathematicians at NASA, generated a new interest in other little-known women who made remarkable contributions with their technical prowess. Montague, who died in late 2018 and whose story has been told in a new picture book, The Girl With A Mind For Math, always credited her mother's insistence on education for giving her the push she needed to reach for her dreams. "You’ll have three strikes against you," she remembered her saying. "You’re female, you’re black and you’ll have a Southern segregated school education. But you can be or do anything you want, provided you’re educated." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Pioneering mathematician Ada Lovelace is now the subject of a variety of books for all ages!

    English mathematician Ada Lovelace is widely considered the world's first computer programmer for her invention of the computer algorithm. Born in 1815 to the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron, Lovelace's mathematical talents led to an ongoing collaboration with mathematician Charles Babbage, who called Lovelace the "Enchantress of Numbers." While translating an article by an Italian engineer on Babbage's Analytical Engine, a proposed early version of a mechanical general-purpose computer, Ada added her own extensive set of notes, three times as long as the original article, which contained a tremendous breakthrough — the first computer program or algorithm! Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books, toys, and clothing for dino-loving girls of all ages!

    All too often, books, toys, and clothing featuring dinosaurs exclusively feature boys — but what about the countless dino-loving girls out there? There are plenty of girls who know a plesiosaur from a pachycephalosaurus, or who can talk for hours about the plant life of the Jurassic versus Triassic periods! And if you've got a dino-crazy Mighty Girl in your house, you may want to stock her bookshelves, toy box, and closet with things that remind her that dinos are definitely for girls. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Before Sara Josephine Baker took charge, a third of children died before their 5th birthdays.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, the pioneering physician Sara Josephine Baker revolutionized public health care for children in New York City. When Baker started her public health work, the impoverished slums of Hell's Kitchen on the city's West Side were among the most densely populated places on Earth, and epidemics killed an estimated 4,500 people each week in the overcrowded immigrant tenements, including 1,500 babies. With a third of children born there dying before their fifth birthday, Baker famously remarked that "It is six times safer to be a soldier in the trenches than a baby in the United States." Thanks to her initiatives, the death rate plummeted, and Baker became famous as doctor who had saved 90,000 children in New York City and countless others as her reforms were replicated across the United States and in other countries. Continue reading Continue reading

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    When she was 12 years old, Vinisha Umashankar watched an ironing cart vendor throw out burnt charcoal in her hometown in southern India. She started thinking about all of the ironing vendors across India who use charcoal to heat an iron and press clothing for a fee and the tremendous environmental impact of the common practice. "It made me think about the amount of charcoal burnt every day," Vinisha recalls, "and the damage it does to the environment." The science-loving Mighty Girl decided to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative and, after poring through college level physics textbooks to understand how solar panels worked, she designed a new ironing cart that uses solar panels to power a steam iron. Three years later, the now 15-year-old has gained worldwide acclaim for her invention, which she hopes to start manufacturing within the next few months, and even addressed COP26, the U.N.'s climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Patricia Bath was an early pioneer of laser eye surgery whose cataract-removal invention has saved the vision of millions of people around the world.

    A Renaissance woman in the world of vision, the pioneering ophthalmologist Dr. Patricia Bath not only founded the discipline of community ophthalmology to help underserved populations  have better access to vision care, she invented a device that quickly and easily dissolves cataracts, becoming the first African American female physician to receive a medical patent. Her invention of the Laserphaco Probe was recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2014 as "one of the most important developments in the field of ophthalmology" for having "helped restore or improve vision to millions of patients worldwide." A trailblazer for both women and African Americans in medicine, Bath always considered the people she helped her greatest accomplishment, asserting that "the ability to restore vision is the ultimate reward." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Mary Golda Ross spent over 30 years at Lockheed, much of it as a member of the top-secret Skunk Works program involved in cutting edge research during the early years of the space race.

    When Mary Golda Ross, the first Native American aerospace engineer, began her career at the aerospace company Lockheed during World War II, women engineers were rare and most companies expected them to leave after the war was over to make room for returning men. Ross was such a phenomenal talent, however, that she not only stayed at Lockheed for over 30 years years, she became an integral member of the top-secret Skunk Works program involved in cutting edge research during the early years of the space race. As one of 40 engineers in Lockheed's Advanced Development Projects division, Ross was the only female engineer on the team and the only Native American. Her research was so secret that, even in 1994, she had to be coy with an interviewer about her work: "I was the pencil pusher, doing a lot of research," she said. "My state of the art tools were a slide rule and a Friden computer." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Jeanne Villepreux-Power began her adult life as a dressmaker, but rose to become one of the preeminent marine biologists of her day.

    If you've ever been captivated by colorful fish and sea creatures darting around an aquarium, you can thank 19th century French scientist Jeanne Villepreux-Power! Villepreux-Power began her adult life as a dressmaker, but rose to become one of the preeminent marine biologists of her day. Her invention of a glass box for holding and observing marine specimens — the first recognizable glass aquarium — earned her the title "Mother of Aquariophily" from British biologist Richard Owen. "[She] was not content with purely descriptive studies of dead specimens," French scientist Claude Arnal wrote in a tribute to her. "She was excited by life and its mysteries." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Emily Warren Roebling became the first female field engineer in history as the "surrogate chief engineer" of one of the greatest architectural projects of the 19th century, the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

    When the Brooklyn Bridge was completed after fourteen years of construction in 1883, Emily Warren Roebling — the "woman who saved the Brooklyn Bridge" — was the first to cross it by carriage, carrying a live rooster in her lap as a sign of victory. Early in its construction, Roebling's husband, Washington, the chief engineer in charge of the bridge’s construction, became severely debilitated and bedridden due to decompression sickness. Emily Roebling stepped in and, for over a decade, oversaw the completion of one of the greatest architectural feats of the 19th century — making history by becoming the first female field engineer in the process. "I don’t think that the Brooklyn Bridge would be standing were it not for her," asserts Erica Wagner, the author a biography about Washington Roebling. "She was absolutely integral." Continue reading Continue reading

  • For her discovery of artificial radioactivity, Irène Joliot-Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935, just as her mother, Marie Curie, had in 1911.

    Radiation can be dangerous, even deadly — but it has also saved millions of lives thanks to Irène Joliot-Curie's discovery of artificial radiation! Joliot-Curie, the daughter of Marie Curie, the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize, carried on her mother's legacy of scientific study. Joliot-Curie's groundbreaking research allowed scientists to produce 'designer' radioactive elements quickly and easily, making them widely available for use in research and medical treatment for the first time. This discovery won Joliot-Curie and her husband, Frédéric Joliot-Curie, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935, cementing her place in scientific history — and making the Curies the family with the most Nobel laureates to date.  Continue reading Continue reading

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