Ladies of Science

Ladies of Science

 caption: Fanny Bullock Workman on Silver Throne plateau, Karakoran, Kasmir, Asia, at nearly 21,000 feet, with a banner that says “Votes for Women” (1917)


Here are some references and example texts for people who want to write stories that feature women doing science throughout history. Did I miss your fave? Share in comments and I’ll add it in.


Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World (2016), Rachel Ignotofsky (author and illustrator), beautifully illustrated one-page bios, for readers 9 and older. Some sources in the back

Magnificent Minds: 16 Pioneering Women in Science & Medicine (2016), Pendred E. Noyce. Well-organized biographies with lots of photos and illustrations for middle-grade readers, with sidebars for events like the Franco-Prussian wars and ideas like gene transcription. Includes short list of “further reading”

Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science–and the World (2015), Rachel Swaby. 2-3 page bios, with extensive citations and sources.

Trailblazers: 33 Women in Science who Changed the World (2016), Rachel Swaby. Based on “Headstrong,” targeted to ages 10-13

Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women (2000), Catherine Thimmeah (author), Melissa Sweet (illustrator). Short bios for young readers with cartoony illustrations. Includes a great 4-page timeline list of women and their inventions

The Illustrated Women in Science: Year One (2015), Year Two (2016), Year Three (2017), Dale DeBakcsy (author) Dolby von Luckner (illustrator). Cartoon panels and short essays, with some sources. Taken from the Women You Should Know website, which has even more

 Women in Science: Antiquity through the Nineteenth Century (1986), Marilyn Bailey Ogilvie. Biographical dictionary with annotated bibliography AND a list of women by period, field, and nationality. Older, so no recent historical research, but that list can be a good start

 Nobel Prize Women in Science: Their Lives, Struggles, and Momentous Discoveries (1993), Sharon Bertsch McGrayne

Sisters in Science: Conversations with Black Women Scientists on Race, Gender, and Their Passion for Science (2007), Diann Jordan. Mainly interviews with working scientists, so modern era, but also includes essay on history of education and training for black women in science and a great timeline, from 1600s to 2005

** Women Scientists in America, vol 1: Struggles and Strategies to 1940 (1982) , vol 2: Before Affirmative Action 1940-1972 (1995), vol 3: Forging a New World Since 1972 (2012), Margaret Rossiter. Landmark study, with detailed histories and mentions of hundreds of women taken from primary sources including 100 oral histories. Meticulous and scholarly, with voluminous notes, indexes, and bibliographies with notes



Wikipedia: Timeline of women in science, long list but not at all complete, with single-line entries linking to longer pages. (Become a Wiki contributor and help get more women included: WikiProject: Women Scientists)

Wiki: Ladies of Science Wiki I started that currently lists around 100 women, with some categories like how long they lived, never married, what state/country they worked in. Link is to the page with all their photos

Famous female scientists: A timeline of pioneering women in science, webpage by Dr Helen Klus, organized by date, with a few sentences on each person; about 75 entries

Get to Know These 91 Famous Female Scientists, by Jone Johnson Lewis for Thought Company (2019), short paragraph for each

NIH: Changing the face of medicine, biography site of women physicians, based on past exhibition by that name

Introductions Necessary (short) podcasts; Season One is biographies of women in STEM fields


The Engines of Our Ingenuity, 2300+ short podcasts so far. A lot of men, but search the episode list for the keyword “women” and you’ll find 101+

Lady Science, “an independent magazine that focuses on women and gender in science, technology, and medicine, and provides an accessible platform for writing about women on the web.”, including with 150 book titles

Downloadable STEM Role Models Posters Celebrate Women Innovators As Illustrated By Women Artists (8 so far). The site A Mighty Girl has annotations and links for younger readers about these 8 scientists

**500 Women Scientists – Searchable list of way more than 500 scientists working today and willing to talk about their research and, often, their lives. Also includes blogging on science-life topics

Goodreads: Popular Women in Science Books (250+) (fiction and nonfiction)

Rita Levi-Montalcini: A Pioneer in Neuroscience, 30-page online PDF graphic novel co-published by the Italian Senate and the European Brain Research Institute (comic starts on page 10)

Fictional approaches to Ladies of Science

Featuring specific historical figures

Beautiful Minds (2018), Margaret Porter: actress and wifi technology inventor Hedy Lamarr

The Other Einstein (2016), Marie Benedict: Serbian mathematician/physicist Mileva Mari?-Einstein, who collaborated scientifically and then married Albert

Remarkable Creatures (2009), Tracy Chevalier: fossil hunters Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot

Various Antidotes (1994), Joanna Scott – linked literary-fiction style short stories featuring some real and some fictional natural historians and scientists

Featuring combined/based-on historical figures

The Calculating Stars (2018), Mary Robinette Kowal (first in the Lady Astronaut series) – alternate-history science fiction with carefully researched details about real women mathematicians and physicists who worked on the space program in the 1950s and 1960s (and who get to go on to be astronauts in the alt-timeline) – Nebula Award winner, May 2019

No Cure for the Dead: A Florence Nightingale Mystery (2018), Christine Trent – mystery series with a lot of information about medical care at the time (Trent also treats the death industry in the Victorian era in her Lady of Ashes series)

A Hope Divided (2017), Alyssa Cole – Civil War-era romance heroine combines root woman traditions and scientific method, and debates philosophy with her hero

A Curious Beginning (2015), first of the Veronica Speedwell mysteries by Deanna Raybourn – Victorian-era mystery series featuring a lepidopterist and other natural historians

The Countess Conspiracy (2013), Courtney Milan – Regency romance heroine is a geneticist, making era-appropriate discoveries and using a man as a “beard,” who gives her formal research presentations

The Scribe of Siena (2017), Melodie Winawer – neurosurgeon time-travels back to 1347 — and the plague.


Chernobyl, series

Bletchley Circle, series

Bramwell, series

Call the Midwife, series

Outlander (or just the books?)


Gorillas in the Mist

Hidden Figures



Mercury 13

“Sisters of the Sun”, eighth episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, 2014 US science documentary television series, on astronomers


#TrowelBlazers (mostly archaeology)

#LadiesofScience and #WomenofScience

Here's the complete image that I cropped up at the top of the post. I love this photo!

Fanny Bullock Workman on a glacier in 1917
Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.