Her’s Day Thursday

 

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During the Oscars this past Sunday, GE debuted an awesome new commercial. Didn’t see it? No worries! I’ve got it right here:

 

I. LOVE. THIS.

(Also, the irony that this commercial was played during an awards show honoring celebrities was not lost on me)

I wish great women like Millie Dresselhaus were held to the same esteem as celebrities. And Millie deserves it! She was the first female professor at MIT (she taught physics and electrical engineering) and has won several awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the National Medal of Science (among more than a dozen others)!

You can learn more about Millie here!

Her’s Day Thursday

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I’m super excited about today’s leading lady! I’ve been wanting to write about her for a while, but I also know she’s more well-known than others, and I’ve been wanting to highlight some ladies you may not have known about. But this woman is just too great NOT to write about! Today’s Her’s Day Thursday BAMF is: Marie Curie.

 

Marie Skłodowska (Curie) was born in 1867 in Warsaw, Poland to a family that had recently lost all of its fortune. Though many thought she and her siblings were doomed to live an impoverished life, Marie worked hard on her education. She attended a boarding school at the age of ten, having been taught by tutors until then. When she was older, she and her sister began their advanced studies at the Flying University—the only university that admitted female students in Warsaw.

Hers Day Thursday Marie Curie

Marie and her sister travelled to Paris in 1891 and enrolled at the University of Paris. Marie studied during the day and tutored students at night as a way to keep herself financially afloat. She earned a degree in physics in 1893 and continued her education, earning a second degree in 1894.

 

Marie began research into the properties of different kinds of steels and needed a laboratory to work. A fellow physicist introduced her to Pierre Curie, another scientist who had access to a large laboratory. Pierre allowed Marie to conduct her research at his lab and the two soon fell in love and married.

Hers Day Thursday Marie and Pierre Curie

Marie went on to earn her PhD and became the first female professor at the University of Paris. Marie’s research continued as she discovered two elements: polonium and radium. She also coined the term “radioactivity” and found the methods for isolating radioactive isotopes.

Hers Day Thursday Marie Curie Lab

She was awarded not one but two Nobel Prizes; once for physics in 1903 (which she shared with her husband and another physicist) and again for chemistry in 1911.

 

During World War I, Marie saw the need for mobile x-ray units to help doctors and battlefield surgeons on the front lines. She was soon appointed director of the Red Cross Radiology Service and trained other women to serve as aides. She also produced needles containing radon to use for sterilizing infected tissue.

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During the war, Marie’s research went on the backburner. However, after the war, she continued her humanitarian work as well as her research. Marie Curie died in 1934, due to aplastic anemia—contracted from her exposure to radium over many, many years. The dangers of radium were unknown at the time, and Marie would carry test tubes of it in her pocket and leave it in her desk drawers. Even today some of Marie’s personal papers and belongings are considered dangerous because of the high levels of radioactivity.

 

Marie Curie was an innovator, a determined woman, and a scientist. Her legacy still lives on today.

Her’s Day Thursday

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Earlier this week, I opened my browser and saw the CUTEST Google Doodle:

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The doodle was for Sally Ride‘s birthday and I thought, “Hey! Now I have my Her’s Day Thursday lady!”

Sally Kristen Ride was was born on May 26, 1951 in Los Angeles, CA to a women’s correctional facility counselor and a political science professor. Sally always had a heart for science and earned her bachelor’s degree (and later her master’s and Ph.D.) in English and Physics.

In 1978, Sally saw an advertisement in the Stanford school newspaper seeking people for the space program. Sally was one of 8,000 applicants and was chosen to join NASA as an astronaut.

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Being the first female astronaut, Sally faced a lot of scrutiny. During a press conference before her first space flight in 1983, Ride was asked, “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?” (Really? Really?) But Sally faced it with grace. She went on to totally rock her position aboard the Challenger and became the first American woman in space, the first woman to use the robot arm in space, AND the first woman to use the robot arm to retrieve a satellite! (Take that, Howard Wolowitz!)

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Before her third mission, tragedy struck close to Ride. The Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986. After that, Ride was stationed in Washington D.C., and appointed to a presidential committee that investigated the disaster. Ride went on to found NASA’s Office of Exploration.

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In 2003, Sally founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that produces science entertainment and publications to help get middle and high school students (especially girls) excited about science!

Sadly, Sally passed in 2012, less than two years after receiving a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Though she is gone, her legacy will live on and inspire young girls to believe in their dreams and keep shooting for the stars!

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