An illustrated image of Cecilia Helena Payne-Gaposchkin, one of the most important figures in the history of astrophysics. Her groundbreaking research on the composition of stars changed the way we understand the universe. She discovered that our sun consists largely of hydrogen and helium, correcting the prevailing assumption of the time that the entire universe consists of the same elements as the earth.

Women in science history

Contemporary Max Planck women scientists on female science pioneers in history who persevered despite facing often daunting social obstacles

A composite image of Flore Kunst, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, and Dutch physician and women's suffrage activist Aletta Jacobs
Flore Kunst, Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light in Erlangen, about the pioneering feminist and women’s suffrage activist Aletta Jacobs, the first female doctor in the Netherlands and a leading figure in the Dutch and international women's movement
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"A source of inspiration"
Franciele Kruczkiewicz from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics about Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin more
"Her research is strikingly relevant"
Eleni Dovrou from the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, about 19th century amateur scientist and women's campaigner Eunice Newton Foote more
"Without Emmy Noether, there would be a huge gap in mathematics and its understanding"
Noémie Combe, Max Planck Institute for the Mathematics of Sciences, about the brilliant mathematician Emmy Noether, regarded as the inventor of modern algebra more
Trailblazer in conservation biology
Jana Wäldchen of the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry on the British biodiversity researcher and conservation biologist Georgina Mace more
The butterfly woman
Florencia Campetella, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, on Sybilla Maria Merian, 17th century entomologist, artist, naturalist, proto-ecologist more
'A lack of leading female scientists means a lack of role models'
Natalie Matosin from the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich talks about the biochemist Rosalind Franklin more
Against the odds
Franziska Turck from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research talks about the botanist and Nazi opponent Elisabeth Schiemann more
'Caroline Herschel's legacy is undoubtedly lasting'
Astronomer Sherry Suyu from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics on comet-hunter Caroline Herschel, the first salaried female astronomer more
Ada Lovelace and the first computer programme in the world
Mathematician Anna Siffert from the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics on why Ada Lovelace is considered the world's first computer programmer. more
"Mathematics opens up a new, wonderful world"
Annette Vogt from the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science on Sofia Kovalevskaya, the world's first female professor of mathematics. more
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