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Sally Ride Day was created to honor Sally Ride‘s birthday, May 26. Who was Sally Ride (1951-2012)? She was the first American woman to ever go into space! (Two Soviet Cosmonauts preceded her as the first women in space: Valentina Tereshkova in 1963 and Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982.)
Take some time to honor women in science like Sally Ride, whose legacy lives on in Sally Ride Science. Here are two more women scientists you should know.
Though not an American, Mary Anning (1799-1847) is “the greatest fossilist the world ever knew”: a woman paleontologist living in the first half of the nineteenth century in a man’s England. Wikipedia notes, “Her discoveries included the first ichthyosaur skeleton to be correctly identified, which she and her brother Joseph found when she was just twelve years old; the first two plesiosaur skeletons ever found; the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany; and some important fish fossils.”
Unfortunately, Anning was not eligible to join or present any of her work in front of the Geological Society of London during her lifetime, and she didn’t often receive full credit for her discoveries and scientific contributions. (Finally, in 2010, the Royal Society of London included her in a list of the ten British women who have most influenced the history of science.)
Roger Arliner Young (1889-1964), an American biologist and zoologist, was a woman with one hell of a story. Her inspiring narrative is full of setbacks, confrontations with mentors, and and even time in a mental institution.
To learn more about Young and other great women, check out Black Stars: African American Women Scientists and Inventors by Otha Richard Sullivan.
BONUS: Did you know that a woman wrote the very first science fiction novel? Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein; or: The Modern Prometheus was published in 1818 to high acclaim, paving the way for all other science fiction novels to come after it.
Though there is admittedly some debate about what “counts” as science fiction and therefore which piece of writing was first, one contemporary author claims that Frankenstein represents “the first seminal work to which the label SF can be logically attached” (SF meaning, of course, science fiction).
Is there a woman scientist in your life who you’d like to thank for inspiring you? Is there a girl or young woman with an inclination for science that you’d like to nurture? On Sally Ride Day, think about how you can inspire future women scientists to go for the gold!