Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin was a remarkable woman. Not only was her work hailed as “undoubtedly the most brilliant Ph.D. thesis ever written in astronomy” by renowned astronomers Otto Struve and Velta Zebergs, but she also made breakthroughs in the cyclic domination of science by men. Her story is one of great triumphs in the sphere of scientific breakthrough, made all the more impressive due to her disadvantaged position as a young woman in the male-dominated scientific domain. There were innumerable odds stacked against her, yet she prevailed, championing the creation of the most powerful analytical tool used in astrophysics. Cecilia…


From Rosalind Franklin’s revolutionizing insight into DNA’s structure to Marie Curie’s prolific championing of two Nobel Prizes, women have been held against the most tumultuous of adversaries and achieved great heights just to have themselves re-written “out” of history. Yet, one woman in particular has triumphed to cease the cyclical movement of patriarchal cultures within the scientific domain, demonstrating that women in science deserve to be rendered with equal resources and admiration on all frontiers. Jacqueline K. …


Lin Hai Yin, formerly known as Lin Han Ying and nicknamed Ying Zi, was an influential modern Chinese author and served as a bridge between mainland and Taiwanese literature and China and the great literary world. Lin Hai Yin was born in Osaka, Japan on March 18, 1918, and she returned to Taiwan, where her family is originally from, with her parents at the age of 3. At that time, Taiwan was invaded by Japanese imperialists. Her father, Lin Huan, refused to live under the iron fist of the Japanese invaders, so when she was 5, the family moved to…


Sally Ride was born in Los Angeles, California, on May 26, 1951 to a political science professor and a counselor in a womens’ prison. he attended Stanford University and received her Bachelor’s degrees in both Physics and English in 1973 then went on to earn a M.Sc and a Ph.D in Physics, specializing in astrophysics research. Interestingly, she considered becoming a professional tennis player before college and was nationally ranked.

When NASA began recruiting women astronauts in 1977, she answered their newspaper ad and was one of six applicants hired. Ride moved to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas…


Anne Brontë was the youngest of six siblings, including Charlotte, Emily and Branwell Brontë. She was born on January 17, 1820 in Thornton, Yorkshire, England, at the beginning of King George IV’s rule. Her mother died when she was just one year old as well as her two youngest siblings Maria and Elizabeth.

Anne was educated at home for many years, learning music and drawing from others in the village. She read from her father’s (Patrick Brontë, an Anglicand priest) library and attended Roe Head School while her sister Charlotte taught there for two years. She fell in love with…


Lillian Evelyn Moller Gilbreth (1878–1972) was a psychologist, industrial engineer, consultant, and educator who pioneered the application of psychology to time-and-motion studies and shaped the development of the field of applied psychology in the early 20th century.

Gilbreth noted that engineers were addressing their technical problems scientifically, but they appeared to be unaware that psychology had much to offer as a science. She believed that the scientific management system neglected individual needs in the work setting. Gilbreth understood the importance of identifying the best motions to improve efficiency but she also wanted to know if those best motions provided the…


When Radia Perlman attended MIT in the late ’60s and ’70s, she was one of just a few dozen women out of a class of 1,000 students. There were so few other women around that she was no longer bothered by the gender imbalance — it became normal to her to never see another woman. It was not until she had a class with another female student, “that I’d notice that it kind of looked weird…this other gender person looking curiously out of place in the crowd. I’d have to remind myself that I was also that other gender.”

Growing…


Leta Stetter Hollingworth, born Leta Hollingworth on May 25, 1886, was raised in an abusive home for a large portion of her childhood. Her mother died when she was only three-years-old. Her father left the family, leaving Leta and her two younger sisters to live with their maternal grandparents in Nebraska. Nearly a decade later, however, she and her sisters would move back in with her father when Leta was 12. Her father was an abusive alcoholic, and Leta found herself writing poetry and studying to escape her home life. …


Dorothy Vaughan was a mathematician, human-computer, and electronic computing pioneer who helped send satellites to space and put the first man on the moon. Back when NASA was called NACA, Vaughan led around 400 female African American mathematicians within NASA Langley’s segregated West Area Computing unit.

In an era when NASA is led by an African American man (Administrator Charles Bolden) and a woman (Deputy Administrator Dava Newman), and when recent NASA Center Directors come from a variety of backgrounds, it is easy to overlook the people who paved the way for the agency’s current robust and diverse workforce and…


Martha Jane Coston was born in Baltimore, Maryland on December 12, 1826. When she was 15 or 16, she eloped with a promising young inventor named Benjamin Franklin Coston. They had four children over the next 5 years. Unfortunately, Benjamin Coston’s work had a disastrous effect on his health and he died from chemical exposure in 1848.

At the age of 21, Martha J. Coston found herself a nearly penniless widow with four children to support. She found notes for a pyrotechnic flare in her late husband’s notebook and realized that she could design a signal flare that would work…

RS Staff

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