Emilie Du Chatelet
Emilie Du Chatelet was born in Paris in an age when women were not allowed to visit public libraries, let alone think of studying science or go to university. But Emilie didn't let this get in her way. Through sheer courage and willpower, she went on to share groundbreaking scientific theories with the world, theories that still help us to understand space today.
Let us be certain of what we want to be; let us choose for ourselves our own path in life
Emilie Du Chatelet
Mary Jackson lived in Virginia, USA, at a time when there was unjust racial segregation laws and white people considered black people inferior. Mary spent her life fighting this inequality, and helping others to see that they could do so as well.
She was very bright, and pushed herself through school and university to get top marks and a degree in maths and physics. She joined NASA's Langley Research Center in 1951 as a 'computer', doing mathematical calculations for the engineers. Mary worked in the team that used the Supersonic Wind Tunnel, a machine that blasted models of aeroplanes and spacecraft with air moving at nearly twice the speed of sound, so that engineers could test their designs at high speeds.
We have to do something to get [young people] interested in science…. Sometimes they are not aware of black scientists, and don’t even know the career opportunities until it is too late
Poppy Northcutt has spent her whole life breaking the mould. She studied maths at university, not just because she enjoyed it, but also because she saw it would help her to reach higher-paid roles than those traditionally available to women. After graduating she took her talent for maths to work at an aerospace company. Here she solved very difficult equations for the engineers who were working on software that calculated how to get a spacecraft back from the Moon. Poppy was fascinated by her work, so she asked lots of questions and even took the computer code home with her to study it at night. Before long she was finding mistakes in the code and was promoted to engineer.
I started looking around at these dudes that were working with me and I thought, “You know, I’m as smart as they are”
Chiaki Mukai was determined to become a doctor. She had seen her brother, who had brittle bones in his legs, suffer and struggle to walk and she wanted to be able to help others like him. Chiaki chased her ambitions and qualified as a doctor. She has spent her life working to help others, but much of her research has happened in places she did not expect.
If you can dream it, you can do it