Marie Curie Named Greatest Woman Scientist Of All Time

by VR Sreeraman on Jul 5 2009 3:39 PM

Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist Marie Curie, who discovered that radiation therapy could treat cancer, has been voted the greatest woman scientist of all time.

The Polish-born researcher bagged over a quarter of the votes (25.1 per cent), almost double the votes received by her nearest rival Rosalind Franklin (14.2 per cent), the English biophysicist who helped discover the structure of DNA.

Third on the list was Hypatia of Alexandria, played by Rachel Weisz in a recent film about the fourth century Egyptian philosopher.

New Scientist magazine conducted the poll of 800 scientists and members of the public, which was commissioned by cosmetics company L'Oreal.

At the fourth position was astrophysicist Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell with 4.7 per cent votes.

London-born Ada, the Countess of Lovelace, the mathematician who wrote the first computer programmes grabbed the fifth spot in the poll.

Austrian physicist Lise Meitner who discovered nuclear fission was sixth in the list, while British chemist Dorothy Hodgkin who pioneered X-ray techniques was at seventh.

Then came French-born Sophie Germain, who was one of the world's greatest mathematicians, followed by American marine biologist Rachel Carson, who pioneered the global environmental movement ninth.

Standing proudly at the tenth spot is modern role model Dr Jane Goodall, the world famous primatologist, with 2.7 percent votes.

"The poll indicates the vital need to celebrate and raise awareness of the many female scientists who have shaped modern science since Marie Curie - and who are making a bigger contribution than ever," the Telegraph quoted Dr Roger Highfield, the editor of New Scientist magazine, as saying.

Grita Loebsack, of L'Oreal said: "Women are at the forefront of advances in many scientific disciplines, particularly in health and life sciences."

"The aim of the poll was to celebrate the contribution women have made to scientific research but also to highlight the lack of modern role models to encourage young women to pursue careers in science," she added.

The Top 10 woman scientists of all time are:

1. Marie Curie (25.1 percent)

2. Rosalind Franklin (14.2 percent)

3. Hypatia of Alexandria (9.4 percent)

4. Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (4.7 percent)

5. Ada, Countess of Lovelace (4.5 percent)

6. Lise Meitner (4.4 per cent)

7. Dorothy Hodgkin (3.8 percent)

8. Sophie Germain (3.7 percent)

9. Rachel Carson (3.3 percent)

10. Dr Jane Goodall (2.7 percent)