back to article Marie Curie voted top female boffin

Marie Curie has topped a poll to name the most notable female scientist of all time, beating Brit biophysicist Rosalind Franklin into second spot. Polish-born Curie, later a French citizen, is celebrated for her part in the discovery of polonium and radium, as well as pioneering work in the treatment of cancers using …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Dear Lord

    Look at the size of that woman's cranium!

  2. eJ2095

    And for Food

    Google a Film called "Young EinStien"

    B rate is a under statment

  3. Sir Sham Cad

    Mars, er, Science needs women!

    I thouroughly endorse this campaign (There, I've even broken my own rule and added an icon). Women have made incredible contributions to science in the past and it is terrible that it is still seen as a male pursuit. The search for knowledge is a human trait and, if we're honest, girls are probably even better at it than us boys.

    On which note I leave you with a write-in vote of my own. Mary Anning. Incredible woman who was respected for her achievments despite being a woman doing "man's work".

  4. Pete 2 Silver badge

    The sad thing is

    ... there are (were?) so few to choose from.

    Ask any slice of the british public - outside a university town, to name a woman scientist and hers would probably be the only one that "the man in the street" could come up with. Leaving aside all the fictional ones and the science presenters (many of whom have more than adequate scientific qualifications) the field is remarkably small.

    However if you asked the same MitS to name any 2 male scientists, I would expect the overwhelming answer to be Einstein, followed after along pause by "that guy in the wheelchair? yooooo know - wassis name?".

  5. Matthew Smith
    Thumb Up

    Margaret Hilda Roberts

    What about Mrs Thatcher, who invented Mr Whippy ice cream when she worked at ICI?

  6. Lottie

    My nursery school

    was on Curie Avenue. I haven't seen any other female scientist with a road named after them. I think we need -as the article said- more celebration of current female scientists.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Quelle surprise

    French boffinesse wins poll run by French company.

    Paris, cos I'd love to run a poll in Paris.

  8. nichomach

    "Scientifically radiant"???

    You sick, sick puppy...

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Pete 2

    'However if you asked the same MitS to name any 2 male scientists, I would expect the overwhelming answer to be Einstein, followed after along pause by "that guy in the wheelchair? yooooo know - wassis name?".'


  10. Dr. Ellen

    Sad omission

    Maria Goeppert-Mayer, co-developer of the Mayer-Jensen Shell Model, deserves a place somewhere on that list. Oh, and we could use a Lady Nerd icon...

  11. northern monkey

    Grita Loebsack

    What an attractive name!

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Mary Curie...

    ...was Polish born, but French bread.

    Don't blame me, blame Gruff Rhys!

  13. Dave Walker

    Notably Missing:

    Heldly Lamar "No NO NOOO HEDDY Lamar!" (Mel Brooks "Blazing Saddles)

    ...but seriously, Heddy Lamar was an incredible electrical engineer.

    Caroline Herschel who did much of the mathematics to support William's astronomical observations.

    I'm sure there are more but I'll let others chime in

    (the icon? For the Saddles of course :-) )

  14. Alistair 2

    @Dr Ellen

    <<<<< That is the Lady Nerd icon.

  15. Geoff Bin In


    Marie Curie, the only woman to have had a unit named after her, and

    then have it taken away to be replaced by the Buggerall, a unit so small

    that they had to invent some new multiples.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Rubbish top 10.

    What about Grace Brewster Murray? Pivotal mathematician and developer of COBOL, inventor of the compiler, forerunner of Mathematica and a rear admiral in the Navy.

    Definite heroine of mine - (if not number one of all time), as an electonics engineer myself.

    As a quote of a quote - she believed that "we've always done it that way" was not necessarily a good reason to continue to do so.

    Unorthodox and inspirational. Check out her CV. It's like War & Peace.


  17. blah 5

    No Grace Hopper, either?

    Mind you, I'm biased because I spent 6 years in the US Navy. Still, the woman invented the first compiler for a computer language. That's gotta be worth at least an Honorable Mention.

  18. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Well without stating the bleedin' obvious, get an average person to name 10 or even 5 top female academics!

  19. MeRp

    RE: No Grace Hopper, either? and Huh?

    Also... no Ada Lovelace....

  20. homer34tzu

    Hedy Lamarr

    Spread Spectrum ...from subs to WiFi

  21. Swee' Pea

    First Scientist

    What about Eve?

  22. WhatWasThat?


    "The company's Grita Loebsack"...

    If "loebsack" is the new bulgarian airbag, is a "grita" one particularly abrasive, or just the French wording of the standard measurement of abrasive materials?!

    Yes, I know... Ms. Bee is sending me to be... abraided... appropriately. Unless she thinks I will like it too much. :) ... Hence the icon, eh?

  23. Steven Jones

    Grace Hopper

    She deserves her place, but not in top science. Proper science - nature science - is about fundamentally explaining how our universe works.

    Computer science is, as a lecturer pointed out to me many, many years ago a branch of engineering; that is engineering science. It makes our world work better - it doesn't explain it. In fact Grace Hopper had more to do with project management than anything else. She steered through one of the first real international standards, even if what came out was a language which was exquisitely ugly and mundane. That was the style of the day - Fortran was of the same era, and another vocational language of plodding inelegance.

    Nope - they got it right. Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin (for those believing in French conspiracies, the latter also worked in Paris for several years). Rosalind Franklin was much maligned by James Watson, an unpleasant character who engaged in what was a posthumous character assassination of her in his book, The Double Helix. Both appear to have been killed by dallying with ionising radiation. I rather wish I'd have met Rosalind Franklin - I think I would have been very intimidated.

  24. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Re: Mary Curie... (AC@14:46)

    Marie Curie was a baguette?

  25. Robert Forsyth

    Anna Ford

    and the other Tommorow's World presenters, such as, Judith Hann

    I don't think you can view science 'heroes' like sporting heroes, anyway, it's not as if men or boys want to be like Einstein.

  26. Charles Manning

    @Steven Jones

    Real Computer Science is a real science and explains the fundamental limitations to sorting efficiency, compiler theory etc. Turing et al. (he could half get this prize).

    It's just that real computer computer science is not taught.

    Learning to program at university might be carried out by the computer science faculty, but that does not make it computer science. Computer science, as taught at universities, should really be an engineering discipline (ie. computer engineering or software engineering).

  27. Robert Forsyth

    Heather Couper

    Heather Couper?

  28. Scott 19

    My Mum

    I don't know how she makes malteser ice-cream cake but it's a science.

  29. Graham Bartlett

    Why only female?

    As Pete 2 touched on without actually saying, the problem isn't so much that female scientists are undervalued, but that *all* scientists are undervalued. Managers get the fat paycheques, whilst the folks who actually achieved stuff get not a right lot. And yes, play the name-a-scientist game with anyone in the street and you'd be lucky to get more than Einstein.

    Added to which, the real irony is how pointless this poll is. Science and engineering is the one area of society with the *least* discrimination, and always has been. Amongst fellow geeks, raw talent and ability to apply that talent have always been more highly valued than what you look like and how you behave, so all these competitions for "top female scientist" or "woman engineer of the year" are utterly pointless. Sure, there are less women in engineering, but it's not because the guys are discriminating against them - it's because less women *want* to do it. Straight men are massively under-represented in the fashion business, but I don't see people setting up "straight male fashion designer of the year" competitions. Ditto male nurses, or male physiotherapists. If you want to do something, you'll do it - if you don't want to do it (or have no natural talent for it), then some poll of "top female whatever-job" isn't going to help.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Graham B

    > it's because less women *want* to do it

    Yes, but why is that? It's partly cultural. If you go to some countries, 50% of the engineers are women. So there is no "natural" bias. A project like this can try to change expectations and encourage more women into engineering. Which can only be a good thing (looking around the office here).

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science - Schmience!

    The engineering/science fault line is a mirage. I stand by my choice. Boffinry knows no bounds or gender (or genus - my cat has just worked out how to open the fridge door!). If we stick to no engineering, Hodgkin would have to go from the list. Now we have a real mess!

    I also agree with Ada Lovelace - though what stuns me about her, is that she achieved everything before her death at just 36. Wow!

    Although, I have to come clean. I am not a fan of gender only achievement lists or 'Top woman this', 'Top woman that'. My professional body tried this ages ago. It got headlines, but nothing else. Getting women into into science and engineering is still, sadly, very hard. Shame really. Missed opportunities abound.


  32. Steven Jones

    @Charles Manning

    I have a prejudice towards natural science. Computer Science, which is closely related to Mathematics, is not a natural science - it's a a formal science. That is fundamentally an exercise in formal processes, logic and the like. All very important and useful and an essential tool of natural sciences, but they do not, in themselves seeks to explain the universe (albeit that natural science models are usually expressed mathematically).

    Natural science is not like that at all - it is based on observations and the generation and testing of theories to explain these natural events. it is unfortunate that the word scientist is used to cover so many area, many of which are not even closxel related. For instance, there is a discipline (I use the term loosely) called political science, but I'd have real trouble accepting academics in that subject as being scientists in anything vaguely like the same sense as, say, a physicist. Also engineers would have difficulty claiming to be scientists.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Graham B


    "Science and engineering is the one area of society with the *least* discrimination, and always has been. Amongst fellow geeks, raw talent and ability to apply that talent have always been more highly valued than what you look like and how you behave, so all these competitions for "top female scientist" or "woman engineer of the year" are utterly pointless."

    A stirling point well made. As a forty something - I would only ever want to work with (or befriend) engineers or scientists. No prejudice, no discrimination, no agendas (bar getting the design right or solving the problem), no politics. Only the problem. Very pure.

    I have only found the opposite in administration, managerial, clerical, financial etc. Give me an engineer or scientist every time. Gender irrelevant (although I have always found women engineers to be brilliant at pure mathemetics and software).

    BTW, has everyone read this article, Very disturbing - and not my experience at all.

    I've yet to come across anyone like this. The article doesn't seem very helpful, or scientific. Who commissioned it?


  34. elderlybloke
    Paris Hilton

    OK to say Girls are better

    But they get all upset when it is said that blokes can do something(anything) better.

    Go on , try it and see.

  35. archie lukas

    Ask the public to name a female scientist

    In a pub quiz, 35 people were asked to name a famous female scientist.

    Only one person named someone other than Mme Curie.

    I'm a Health scientist for christsakes and I can't either!

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