Inspirational women: Marie Curie
Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day, and what better way to celebrate than to learn about some of history’s most amazing women! For me, Marie Curie really stands out as a source of inspiration. Whether you know her as the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, or simply because of her groundbreaking research that led to the first use of the term “radioactivity,” Marie Curie is a household name.
One of the most admirable traits about Marie Curie was her perseverance when she faced challenges. When she wanted to further her education by attending Krakow University, Marie Curie was rejected simply because she was a woman. However, she never let this rejection stop her from learning, and she went on to make amazing discoveries about X-rays and radioactivity using her husband’s laboratory equipment. After publishing several papers about her trailblazing research, including the discovery of radioactivity and two new elements, Marie Curie went on to become the first female professor at the University of Paris, showing those around her that there is a place for women in higher education.
Marie Curie also challenged the typical male and female roles that existed throughout her lifetime. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, women were expected to stay home and tend to the house and children. However, Marie Curie chose a drastically different career path, deciding to take after her father by studying math and physics. This was completely unheard of at the time – even today in 2016, over a century later, math and physics are still often seen as male-dominated fields!
Though Marie Curie lived over a century ago, her legacy continues on today. As an undergraduate student with an interest in scientific research, I am especially inspired by Marie Curie’s amazing achievements: not only was she the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she was the first person to receive two of them – one in Physics and one in Chemistry. To date, only four people have ever been awarded two Nobel Prizes, and Marie Curie is one of just two people to win her prizes in two different fields.
Overall, although Marie Curie was faced with discrimination as a woman in science, she fought back against gender stereotypes and went on to make amazing discoveries. Her work continues to have important scientific and clinical significance today; for example, in radiation therapy for cancer patients. For this reason, I look up to Marie Curie as a role model as I continue on in my career as a science student, and I know that she is a source of inspiration for many other people as well, both in the field of science and beyond.
Brittany is currently in her second year at McGill University, where she is studying Microbiology & Immunology. She is an active member of Best Buddies McGill and an intramural volleyball team. Outside of school, Brittany enjoys reading and traveling.