Ada Lovelace Day 2013: Which female scientists inspire us?

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematici...

Ada Lovelace, 19th century British mathematician (1836). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is Ada Lovelace Day* <> which aims to raise the profile of women working in STEM
subjects across the globe.

I emailed my list of women scientists whom I have admired, or from whom I have drawn inspiration to my work colleagues, and now I’m posting it here. Each of them are admired for different qualities or acheivements, and by no means do I admire 100% of any of many of them. Also, I do draw inspriation from male scientists and engineers and from non-scientists, but I list the women here in honour of Ada Lovelace Day. I have added in purple suggestions sent by my colleagues in response to my original email. Thank you!

The fore-runners
Laura Bassi
Rosalind Franklin
Marie Curie
Dorothy Hodgkin (recommend excellent biography by Georgina Ferry)
Lise Meitner
Rosalind Yalow
Mary Anning (
Beatrice Tinsley
Caroline Herschel ( )
Elisabeth Mann-Borgese
Marie Tharp (
Emmy Noether

Todays women
Athene Donald  her blog is great
Uta Frith
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Georgina Mace
Ann Druyan

And in my/our fields:
Joanne Malkus Simpson
Jerri Nielsen
Julia Slingo
Lesley Gray
Susan Solomon
Jo Haigh
Gabi Hegerl
Ulrike Lohmann
Dorothy  M Koch (not the one you find on wikipedia)
Liane Benning
Dian Seidel
Karin Labitzke
Helen Byrne
Sarah Waters
Kathryn Gillow
Diane Maclagan.

To contribute to the Guardian’s celebration of women in science, see

Also, several people pointed out that Wikipedia entries for female scientists are generally a lot less extensive than those for men. Projects to remedy this such as that at
Brown University

try to redress the balance.

Finally, there are also voices  questioning whether historical figures should be used in this way, e.g.

*Ada Lovelace was a leading 19th century mathematician, daughter of the poet Lord
Byron and described herself as a “poetical scientist”. She is often described as the first computer programmer, although this is a matter of debate. She has left a lasting legacy as a role model for women around the world working in
science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). And  in 2012 she was
honoured by a Google doodle