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women Scientists

According to United Nations data, about 30% of scientific researchers worldwide are women and this is due to the challenges of gender discrimination and lack of recognition of the women folk in the scientific community. However, there are countless inspiring women in the science fields that have made historic contributions to science and helped advance understanding of the world.

Various Support Opportunities for Women Scientist

There are various support opportunities for women scientists both in Africa and Internationally. Some of these include;

Medical Research Council (MRC)/Department for International Development (DFID) African Research Leader Scheme

Mawazo research fellow program in Nairobi, Kenya.

International Opportunities in Africa

  • Forte MBA Fellows Program for Women: This program was created to increase the number of women applying to and enrolling in MBA programs by offering fellowships to women pursuing a full-time, part-time, or executive MBA education at sponsor business schools. Fellows also gain exposure to leading companies in the Forté network.
  • UNESCO-L’Oreal Fellowships For Women in Science: L’Oreal in partnership with UNESCO, awards fellowships to women researchers pursuing doctoral research programs in various fields within the life sciences.
  • Hertha Firnberg Program for Highly Qualified Female Scientists: this is an Austrian Science Fund which offers to fund to well qualified female scientists in any science discipline. The length of the scholarship award is up to 12 months.

10 Most Successful Women Scientist Around the World and Their Achievements

  1. Alice Ball: she was an American chemist and the first woman and first African American to receive a master’s degree from the University of Hawaii. At 23 years of age, Alice Ball developed a treatment for leprosy disease which believed to be a killer disease Alice Ball developed an injectable form of oil that was used to save countless lives and became the best treatment for leprosy until the 1940s. The governor of Hawaii declared February 29 “Alice Ball Day.”
  2. Rosalind Franklin: was a British chemist and DNA researcher. Her research data was the first to demonstrate the basic dimensions of DNA strands and reveal the molecule was in two matching parts, running in opposite directions. Her work has since then been the basis of other DNA researches all over the world.
  3. Dorothy Hodgkin: was a British chemist and one of the major researchers of X-ray crystallography. In 1964, Dorothy became the first and only British woman to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. She made numerous breakthrough discoveries, including the atomic structure of penicillin, the structure of vitamin B12 and the structure of insulin. Hodgkin also spent decades improving X-ray crystallography techniques, which made it possible for her to complete her innovative research on insulin and improve treatments for diabetes.
  4. Grace Hopper: she was a computer programmer who helped develop multiple computer languages and is considered one of the first programmers of the modern computing age. Grace obtained a master’s degree and PhD in mathematics at the University of Yale. She became the first person to call computer problems “bugs” while repairing a computer.
  5. Barbara McClintock: she was an American botanist who was responsible for several discoveries in the field of genetics. McClintock studied how genetic characteristics are passed down through generations, she also discovered that some genes could be mobile that is, the genetic elements could sometimes move on a chromosome and thus cause nearby genes to activate. Barbara McClintock was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1971 and won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983.
  6. Lise Meitner: an Austrian physicist she contributed significant advancements to the field of nuclear physics. She was also the first woman to become a physics professor in Germany. She worked on nuclear fission which won her the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
  7. Sally Ride: a NASA astronaut, she became the first American woman in space, serving as a mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. She helped investigate the space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003. She also founded “Sally Ride Science,” an organization that aims to inspire young people in STEM, and she wrote several books about her experience in space to teach children about science.
  8. Tu Youyou: a Pharmaceutical chemist who discovered a new malaria treatment that has saved millions of lives. Tu and her research team were able to extract a malaria-inhibiting substance called artemisinin from wormwood. Since her discovery of artemisinin in the 1970s, antimalarial drugs based on the substance have saved millions of lives. She won the 2015 Nobel Prize in Medicine for her discovery.
  9. Maria Winkelmann: was a pioneer in German astronomy. In 1902, she became the first woman to discover a new comet. She also took on an active role in improving the Berlin Academy of Science, where her husband served as the principal astronomer.
  10. Chien-Shiung Wu: a Chinese-American physicist who is credited with disproving the conservation of parity. She worked on the Manhattan Project, helping develop the process for separating uranium metal and developing better instruments to measure nuclear radiation. In 1973, Wu became the first woman to lead the American Physical Society, and in 1975 she received the National Medal of Science.

There are many women scientists who were not recognized in their own lifetimes, but their achievements have now helped generations of female scientists to do better in their field.


Get training and networking opportunities for women scientists throughout the developing world at different stages of your career. Scroll down to see