Women in STEMEvery year, we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8 as a way to commemorate the movement for women’s rights. This global holiday honors the social, economic, cultural, political – and in our case – scientific achievements of women.

Additionally, International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Currently, women remain underrepresented in the STEM workforce, although to a lesser degree than the past. According to the National Science Foundation, the greatest gender disparities still exist in the fields of engineering, computer science, and physical science.

In the U.S., women make up half of the entire workforce, but only 29 percent of the science and engineering field. While the gender gap may still exist for women in STEM, many phenomenal female scientists have entered the field over the years and left an indelible mark on the science.

Take Nettie Stevens (born 1861), the foremost researcher in sex determination, whose work was initially rejected because of her sex. Or Mary Engle Pennington (born 1872), an American chemist at the turn of the 20th century, pioneering research that allows us to process, store, and ship food safely. Barbara McClintock (born 1902) was deemed crazy when she suggested that genes jump from chromosome to chromosome. Of course, she was later awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of genetic transportation.


There is no doubt that women have made an immense impact on the sciences. From Marie Curie to Esther Takeuchi, women have made outstanding contributions to innovation, research, and technology.

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re celebrating by (briefly) highlighting a few women who have changed STEM.

Marie Curie

A list of pioneering women in STEM would be incomplete if it did not include the extraordinary Marie Curie. Her inspiring story and discovery or radium helped pave the way to inspire many future women in STEM. Curie was the first woman ever to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, and the only person to win in multiple sciences.

Irene Joliot-Curie

Continuing the work of her mother Marie Curie, Irene Joliot-Curie was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1935 for the synthesis of new radioactive elements. Her work included the study of natural and artificial radioactivity, transmutation of elements, and nuclear physics. Joliot-Curie’s work lead to research by German physicist that eventually resulted in the discovery of nuclear fission.

Lili Deligianni

Lili Deligianni’s innovative work in chemical engineering has led to cutting-edge developments in chip technology and thin film solar cells. She has been with ECS for many years, currently serving as the Society’s secretary. Her current research interests in the development of materials for low power on-chip converters and thin film solar cells are game changing technologies that could have applications in solar panel sand electric cars.