1796 – 1820

Astronomer Huang Lü became the first Chinese woman to work with optics and photographic images. She developed a telescope that could take simple photographic images using photosensitive paper.


Mary Kies becomes the first woman to receive a patent, for a method of weaving straw with silk.


French marine biologist Jeanne Villepreux-Power invented the first glass aquarium, using it to assist in her scientific observations of Argonauta argo.


Scottish polymath Mary Somerville and German astronomer Caroline Herschel were elected the first female members of the Royal Astronomical Society.


The first state (Mississippi) grants women the right to hold property in their own names – with permission from their husbands.


English mathematician Ada Lovelace translated Luigi Menabrea’s article on Charles
Babbage’s Analytical Engine. With the article, she appended a set of notes, labelled alphabetically from A to G. In note G, she describes an algorithm for the Analytical Engine to compute Bernoulli numbers. It is considered the first published algorithm ever specifically tailored for implementation on a computer, and Ada Lovelacehas often been cited as the first computer programmer.


British zoologist Anna Thynne built the first stable, self-sustaining marine aquarium.


American astronomer Maria Mitchell became the first woman elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; she had discovered a new comet the year before.

1848 – 1849

English scientist Mary Anne Whitby collaborated with Charles Darwin in researching the hereditary qualities of silkworms.


At Seneca Falls, New York, 300 women and men sign the Declaration of Sentiments, a plea for the end of discrimination against women.


The American Association for the Advancement of Sciences accepted its first women members: astronomer Maria Mitchell, entomologist Margaretta Morris, and science educator Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps.


In Missouri v. Celia, a Slave, a Black woman is declared to be property without a right to defend herself against a master’s act of rape.

Welsh astronomer and photographer Thereza Dillwyn Llewelyn produced some of the earliest photographs of the moon.


American atmospheric scientist Eunice Newton Foote presented her paper “Circumstances affecting the heat of the sun’s rays” at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences. Her paper provided the first scientific explanation of the greenhouse effect.


English geologist Elizabeth Carne was elected the first female Fellow of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall.


The 14th Amendment is passed by Congress, with “citizens” and “voters” defined as “male” in the Constitution.


The first woman suffrage law in the U.S. is passed in the territory of Wyoming.


Arabella Mansfield is granted admission to practice law in Iowa, making her the first woman lawyer. Ada H. Kepley becomes the first woman in the United States to graduate from law school.


Ellen Swallow Richards became the first American woman to earn a degree in chemistry.

Russian chemist Anna Volkova became the first woman member of the Russian Chemical Society.


Victoria Claflin Woodhull becomes the first female presidential candidate in the United States, nominated by the National Radical Reformers.

Female federal employees (but not private sector workers) guaranteed equal pay for equal work under the law.

Susan B. Anthony casts her first vote to test whether the 14th Amendment would be interpreted broadly to guarantee women the right to vote. She is convicted of “unlawful voting.”


The Supreme Court rules that a state has the right to exclude a married woman from practicing law.


Julia Lermontova became the first Russian woman to receive a PhD in chemistry.


Minor v Happersett, 88 U.S. 162 (1875): The U.S. Supreme Court declares that despite the privileges and immunities clause, a state can prohibit a woman from voting. The court declares women as “persons,” but holds that they constitute a “special category of non-voting citizens.”

1876 – 1878

American naturalist Mary Treat studied insectivorous plants in Florida. Her contributions to the scientific understanding of how these plants caught and digested prey were acknowledged by Charles Darwin and Asa Gray.


English entomologist Eleanor Anne Ormerod became the first female Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society. A few years afterwards, she was appointed as Consulting Entomologist to the Royal Agricultural Society.


Self-taught German chemist Agnes Pockels began investigating surface tension, becoming a pioneering figure in the field of surface science. The measurement equipment she developed provided the basic foundation for modern quantitative analyses of surface films.


English zoologist Alice Johnson’s paper on newt embryos became the first paper authored by a woman to appear in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.


British naturalist Marian Farquharson became the first female Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society.


Botanist Emily Lovira Gregory became the first woman member of the American Society of Naturalists.


Rachel Lloyd became the first American woman to receive a PhD in chemistry, completing her research at the Swiss University of Zurich.

Susanna Medora Salter becomes the first woman elected mayor of an American town, in Argonia, Kansas.


American chemist Josephine Silone Yates was appointed head of the Department of Natural Sciences at Lincoln Institute (later Lincoln University), becoming the first black woman to head a college science department.


Geologist Mary Emilie Holmes became the first female Fellow of the Geological Society of America.


Austrian-born chemist Ida Freund became the first woman to work as a university chemistry lecturer in the United Kingdom.

Popular science educator and author Agnes Giberne co-founded the British Astronomical Association.

The first state (Wyoming) grants women the right to vote in all elections.


American-born astronomer Dorothea Klumpke was appointed as Head of the Bureau of Measurements at the Paris Observatory. For the next decade, in addition to completing her doctorate of science, she worked on the Carte du Ciel mapping project. She was recognized for her work with the first Prix de Dames award from the Société astronomique de France and named an Officier of the Paris Academy of Sciences.


American psychologist Christine Ladd- Franklin presented her evolutionary theory on the development of color vision to the International Congress of Psychology. Her theory was the first to emphasize color vision as an evolutionary trait.


English physiologist Marion Bidder became the first woman to speak and present her own paper at a meeting of the Royal Society.


Florence Bascom became the first woman to work for the United States Geological Survey.


American physicist Isabelle Stone became the first woman to receive a PhD in physics in the United States. She wrote her dissertation “On the Electrical Resistance of Thin Films” at the University of Chicago.


American physicists Marcia Keith and Isabelle Stone became charter members of the American Physical Society. er dissertation “On the Electrical Resistance of Thin Films” at the University of Chicago.

Irish physicist Edith Anne Stoney was appointed a physics lecturer at the London School of Medicine for Women, becoming the first woman medical physicist.