Four Inspirational Female Inventors

Over the years, lots of women have been at the forefront of STEM - inventing, discovering and pioneering in science, technology, engineering and maths. Check out some of these inspiring women who have discovered, invented and worked on things we use to this day!

Marie Curie

Discovered polonium and radium used in x-rays and radiology.

A cartoon image of Marie Curie holding a beaker of liquid

Marie Curie was a Polish physicist and chemist and is one of the most famous scientists of her time – winning two Nobel Prizes. Along with her husband, Pierre Curie, she worked on researching radioactivity and discovered two new chemical elements called polonium and radium. Their research and discovery was very important in the development of x-rays in surgery and has contributed hugely to the fight against cancer using radiology.

Grace Hopper

Developed the first computer compiler.

a cartoon image of a laptop with the phrase COBOL on the screen

Grace Hopper was a computer scientist and Rear Admiral in the US Navy famed for her work in computer technology and programming. In 1944 she was assigned to work on a new computer called the Mark 1 at Harvard University and then went on to develop the first compiler for a computer programming language which would convert language-based instructions into code so they could be read and executed by a computer. Her work made programming quicker, revolutionising how computers worked, and lead on to the development of a computer programming language called COBOL which is still used today.

Emily Warren Roebling

Worked on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

A cartoon image of the Brooklyn Bridge in New York

Emily Warren Roeling is known for working on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. Her husband, Washington Roebling, was a Civil Engineer and after his father passed away become Chief Engineer of the construction. Not long after, Washington became ill and was bed bound. Emily visited him and relayed information from him to the construction team and took on many of the duties of the Chief Engineer including day-to-day supervision and project management. Through working on the bridge she developed an extensive knowledge of strength of materials, stress analysis, cable construction and much more through her husband’s teachings. Emily worked on the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge for 11 years until its completion in 1883.

Elizabeth Magie

Designed the predecessor of Monopoly.

A picture of a Monopoly board.

Elizabeth Magie was a games designer from America and is believed to have created one of the most popular board games in history, Monopoly! While Monopoly was published by the Parker Brothers in 1935, Elizabeth Magie patented her design for ‘The Landlords Game’ 31 years earlier in 1904, which was the foundations of the much loved board game. Elizabeth Magie wanted to design a game that showed the problems with capitalism in a unique and innovative game.

Mary Somerville

Wrote many important scientific books.

A cartoon image of a pile of books stacked on top of each other

Mary Somerville was a Scottish science writer born in Jedburgh in 1780. She studied mathematics and astronomy and in 1833, was named an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society, the first time a woman had earned that recognition. She was also awarded a gold medal from the Royal Geographical Society, and was elected to the American Philosophical Society. Her scientific journals on many different topics were used in universities across the world - including being recommended to Cambridge undergraduates. 

She has also been on the Bank of Scotland's £10 polymer note since 2017.

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