“Forgotten” Female Pioneers

Calista Self, Staff Writer

I will be discussing and providing examples of women in history who were not credited for their findings. Instead, men choose to steal and publish the ideas as if they were their own. So, sit down and be properly educated.

Throughout history, relatively all of human discovery has been credited to men. So, if men were running around getting published, what were women doing?

The first woman to be discussed is Rosalind Franklin. Her discovery of the double helix was one of the most important scientific revelations of the twentieth century; however, James D. Watson and Francis H.C. Crick are credited with the discovery that would change our understanding of human DNA forever. In reality, Franklin had been studying DNA at King’s College in London in 1951 when she produced the famous image of the first captured double helix. A colleague of hers showed the image to Watson and Crick without permission from Franklin. When Watson and Crick published their findings in 1953, they gave only passing reference to Franklin’s contributions. They received the Nobel Prize in 1958, four years after Rosanna Franklin died of ovarian cancer.

The next woman on our list is Lise Meitner. Meitner was a student under the physicist Max Plank, who was the first German woman to be a professor at a German University. During the rise of the Nazi forces, Meitner was forced to leave her country, however she continued to communicate with her research partner, Otto Hahn. Meitner and Hahn, together, created an outline for the concept of nuclear fission. Despite working together, Hahn omitted Meitner’s name and was the sole recipient of the 1944 prize in chemistry from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Hedy Lamarr was an Austrian-born, American actress during the Golden Age of Hollywood. During this time, she collaborated with George Antheil to create a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes. The U.S Navy stole Lamarr and Antheil’s idea and classified the patent. By the 1960s, the Navy had changed the technology to host new weapons systems. Lamarr and Antheil’s work is the basis for today’s WIFI and Bluetooth technologies.

Although this woman’s creation isn’t in the science department, does not mean it is okay for her idea to be underpaid. Elizabeth Magie is the real creator behind the famous game Monopoly. In the 1930s, Parker Brothers introduced a life-changing game to families. The game made millions for the unemployed heater salesman, Charles Darrow. Roughly 30 years before Darrow, Magie created “The Landlord’s Game”. She designed this game to show the evil of business monopolies. Darrow would play this game with his friends in Atlantic City. He worked to develop this exact variation of “The Landlord’s Game” but changed the names around before pitching his idea to Parker Brothers. He changed the idea of illustrating the evils of business monopolies to celebrate dishonest business practices. The Parker Brothers purchased Magie’s patent for under $500 but went on to make millions of dollars from the game.

Despite this only being four examples given in this article, the readers now know four more female pioneers. Although we cannot change history, we can hope for a better future of equalization between men and women. We can also acknowledge that much of history is whitewashed and does not given properly credit to women or people of color.