Wednesday's Women in STEM: Marie Curie
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
Project STEMinist is so excited to start a fun and educational series called Wednesday’s Women in STEM! Each Wednesday we will feature a different woman who has or is making a difference in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. Our aim is to display the amazing accomplishments of women, both past and present. We would love for you all to tune in every Wednesday for a brief story on an inspiring role model that could become you one day!
Our first Wednesday’s Women in STEM is the famous Marie Curie. Born in 1867 Poland, Marie Curie was a trailblazer for women in science during a time when very few women were studying science. Even attending college for women was a miracle in the 19th century. She was the first woman to ever win a Nobel Prize in 1903 and the first person and only woman to win two science Nobel Prizes in 1911. She was a physicist, chemist, and feminist. Her work in chemistry and physics introduced the theory of radioactivity and she developed methods to isolate radioactive particles (known as isotopes). Curie came up with the term "radioactivity" to describe elements that emitted strong rays. She also helped to discover two new elements to be added to the Periodic Table, polonium and radium. Radium, known for its strong rays specifically, has been very important in cancer research and treatment. Marie Curie first published that when exposed to radium, tumor cells died faster than healthy cells breaking ground for modern-day cancer radiation treatments. Marie named polonium after her homeland Poland. It is occasionally used to remove static electricity in machinery or dust from photographic film.
She also helped to set up and operate mobile X-ray equipment to help wounded soldiers on the front lines during World War 1. She later worked to train other women as aids to operate during the war. She became the first woman professor at the University of Paris and helped train several women graduate students in chemistry and physics.
Not only did her work in radioactivity have a huge influence on the fields of science and medicine, she successfully modeled that women could make amazing contributions to the sciences in ways no one would imagine. She opened the door for all girls interested in STEM and supported other females to pursue their own careers in STEM. We hope you all get inspired by the amazing Marie Curie and follow your true passions. Show the world what you have just like Marie. Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Women in STEM series!
BY: Wafa Akbar