WOMEN’S TIMELINE THE 1940-1959

1941

American scientist Ruth Smith Lloyd became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in Anatomy.

1942

American geologist Marguerite Williams became the first African-American woman to receive a PhD in geology in the United States. She completed her doctorate, entitled A History of Erosion in the Anacostia Drainage Basin, at Catholic University.

Native American aerospace engineer Mary Golda Ross became employed at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, where she provided troubleshooting for military aircraft. She went on to work for NASA, developing operational requirements, flight plans, and a Planetary Flight Handbook for spacecraft missions such as the Apollo program.

1944

Indian chemist Asima Chatterjee became the first Indian woman to receive a doctorate of science, completing her studies at the University of Calcutta. She went on to establish the Department of Chemistry at Lady Brabourne College.

1945

American physicists and mathematicians Frances Spence, Ruth Teitelbaum, Marlyn Meltzer, Betty Holberton, Jean Bartik and Kathleen Antonelli programmed the electronic general- purpose computer ENIAC, becoming some of the world’s first computer programmers.

1947

Austrian-American biochemist Gerty Cori became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which she received along with Carl Ferdinand Cori “for their discovery of the course of the catalytic conversion of glycogen”, and Bernardo Alberto Houssay “for his discovery of the part played by the hormone of the anterior pituitary lobe in the metabolism of sugar”.

American biochemist Marie Maynard Daly became the first African-American woman to complete a PhD in chemistry in the United States. She completed her dissertation, entitled “A Study of the Products Formed by the Action of Pancreatic Amylase on Corn Starch” at Columbia University.

1949

Botanist Valida Tutayug became the first Azerbaijani woman to receive a PhD in biological studies. She went on to write the first national Azerbaijani-language textbooks on botany and biology.

1950

Chinese-American medical scientist Tsai- Fan Yu co-founded a clinic at Mount Sinai Medical Center for the study and treatment of gout. Working with Alexander B. Gutman, Yu established that levels of uric acid were a factor in the pain experienced by gout patients, and subsequently developed multiple effective drugs for the treatment of gout.

Isabella Abbott became the first Native Hawaiian woman to receive a PhD in any science; hers was in botany.

American microbiologist Esther Lederberg became the first to isolate lambda bacteriophage, a DNA virus, from Escherichia coli K-12.

1952

American computer scientist Grace Hopper completed what is considered to be the first compiler, a program that allows a computer user to use English-like words instead of numbers. It was known as the A-0 compiler.

1953

Canadian-British radiobiologist Alma Howard co-authored a paper proposing that cellular life transitions through four distinct periods. This became the first concept of the cell cycle.

Jerrie Cobb is the first U.S. woman to undergo astronaut testing. NASA, however, cancels the women’s program in 1963. It is not until 1983 that an American woman gets sent into space.

1955

Moira Dunbar became the first female glaciologist to study sea ice from a Canadian icebreaker ship.

Japanese geochemist Katsuko Saruhashi published her research on measuring carbonic acid levels in seawater. The paper included “Saruhashi’s Table”, a tool of measurement she had developed that focused on using water temperature, pH level, and chlorinity to determine carbonic acid levels. Her work contributed to global understanding of climate change, and Saruhashi’s Table was used by oceanographers for the next 30 years.

1955-1956

Soviet marine biologist Maria Klenova became the first woman scientist to work in the Antarctic, conducting research and assisting in the establishment of the Mirny Antarctic station.

1956

Dorothy Hill became the first Australian woman elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science.

1957-1958

Chinese scientist Lanying Lin produced China’s first germanium and silicon mono-crystals, subsequently pioneering new techniques in semiconductor development.

1959

Susan Ofori-Atta, the first Ghanaian woman physician, became a founding member of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences.