WHM: HE&R Celebrates Women's Impact on Science
Throughout March, Hershey Entertainment & Resorts is celebrating Women's History Month. This email was shared with our team members in honor of women's impact on science.
Earlier generations of American women were often discouraged from pursuing careers in science. At a young age, girls were encouraged to follow other interests. Despite these obstacles, women persevered and have made some of the world’s most remarkable scientific breakthroughs. Below are some of the women who have excelled in various science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many universities did not allow women to pursue science programs; however, there were female pioneers who made significant impacts during this time. Leprosy, a disease that often sent those afflicted into exile, was highly contagious in the late 1800s and early 1900s until 1915 when Alice Ball developed the first effective treatment for the disease. Ms. Ball later became the first female chemistry professor at the University of Hawaii, her alma mater. Britain’s Rosalind Franklin is credited with discovering the double helix structure of DNA. Although the impact of her discovery was not fully acknowledged for years, much of her work continues to influence scientists today.
Hired by NASA in 1953, Katherine Johnson was often referred to as “the computer” for her remarkable mathematical capabilities. Her work was pivotal in getting Americans to the moon and back in the 1960s. Honored with the Medal of Freedom in 2015, Johnson was depicted in Hidden Figures, the 2017 movie showcasing a group of black women whose contributions to America’s space program were often overlooked. In 1983, astronaut Sally Ride became the first American woman in space. Ride later took her love of science to the University of California, San Diego as a physics professor and also founded Sally Ride Science, an organization inspiring students to explore careers in STEM.
Many consider the pinnacle of achievement in select STEM fields to be the Nobel Prize. According to the Associated Press, “In the 120 years of Nobel prizes in medicine, physics, and chemistry, prizes were awarded 599 times to men and 23 times to women.” Famed scientist Marie Curie is the only woman to have received the Nobel Prize twice - for Physics in 1903 and in 1911 for Chemistry. In 1983, Barbara McClintock earned the Nobel Prize in Medicine for her extensive research on genetics. In 2020, two women - Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna - shared the honors for the chemistry prize. A third woman, UCLA professor Andrea Ghez, became only the third woman to earn the prize for physics.
Although STEM opportunities for young women have increased in recent years, there is still a disproportionate gender gap in these industries. It is estimated that just 28% of women make up the workforce of STEM-related occupations. Teachers, parents, and mentors must continue to encourage young women to pursue a STEM career while companies and educational institutions need to continue to support and empower them as they enter these male-dominated fields.