15 Brilliant Women Bridging the Gender Gap in Science

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The lack of female representation in scientific communities is staggering; according to the U.S. Census Bureau statistics, only 7% of the STEM (science, tech, engineering, mathematics) community was made up of women in 1970. And while that number has risen in the last 4 decades (we're now at 26%), we're still at an embarrassing low rate. Besides the fact that this lack of women in an entire field could be hindering the work being done, millions of young girls are missing positive, intelligent role models. The scientists on this list are doing their part to inspire people everywhere in all kinds of ways. Let's take a closer look at what they've done and how they're helping bridge that gender gap. 

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1. Carolyn Porco

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Carolyn Porco is a planetary scientist leading cutting-edge research projects and even capturing some of the most iconic images of the Earth from space. Most famous for her imaging work on the Voyager spacecraft in the 1980s, Dr. Porco has written over 110 scientific papers, spoken at two TED conferences, and was recently named one of the most influential people in space research by Time Magazine.

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2. Christina Agapakis

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Christina Agapakis is an active researcher in synthetic biology, but is perhaps most well-known for her writing. Infusing a spark of comedy into her science journalism, Agapakis has published in Scientific American, Superflux, Leap and Open Laboratory. Check out her twitter @thisischristina for some funny science.

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3. Heather Williams

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Heather Williams is not only a Medical Physicist at the University of Manchester, she founded and runs Science Grrl, a UK organization that specializes in celebrating women in science with programs that lead many young women to scientific careers. Follow her @science_grrl for info on education and gender gaps in science fields.

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4. Sylvia McLain

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Sylvia McLain teaches at Oxford University on a subject called "Structural and Dynamical Investigations of Peptides, Lipids and Membranes from the Atomic Scale to the Nanoscale," according to her website. If that's too much of a mouthful for you, consider this: McLain has dabbled in field biology, inorganic chemistry and physics, and has also taught English in China, worked at a fishery, and, for a time, made money as a bicycle mechanic. Check out her fascinating blog posts at the Guardian's science blog.

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5. Joanne Manaster

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Joanne Manaster has the rare claim to fame of not only being a total science nerd, but a former model as well! Manaster has made a name for herself online as a teacher, sharing science news in an easily-digestible way for her followers. Follow her @sciencegoddess for facts, news and incredible new research.

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6. Corrie Moreau

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Corrie Moreau is a tenured curator at the Field Museum of Natural History and an expert in myrmecology, the study of ants. Not only has she earned awards from universities like Harvard and Berkeley, Dr. Moreau has made major strides in the myrmecology field, researching the evolution of ants and their "ideal" environments.

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7. Danielle L. Lee

Danielle L. Lee is well-known for her research in animal behavior, but perhaps more so for her fascinating ability to blend science and hip-hop! Her blog for Scientific America, "The Urban Scientist," focuses on sharing research and info with underprivileged Americans. Her Twitter is pretty entertaining, to boot.

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8. Pamela Ronald

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Pamela Ronald studies Plant Pathology at University of California, Davis. Her work is driven by the hard fact that feeding an exponentially-growing population usually involves destroying the environment, so she specializes as the Director of the Laboratory for Crop Genetics Innovation and Scientific Literacy.

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9. Jennifer Rohn

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Jennifer Rohn is an American biologist currently running a cell biology lab at University College London. To boot, Dr. Rohn is also a novelist and advocate for the proper use of science and scientific characters in fiction. Check out lablit.com for a taste of what that entails.


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10. Athene Donald

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Athene Donald is a physics professor at Cambridge and former L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Laureate. She focuses on soft matter physics to study the origins of synthetic and biological systems, and even finds time to advocate for gender equality in science fields.

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11. Gretchen Daily

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Gretchen Daily is a Professor of Environmental Science in the Department of Biology; Senior Fellow in the Woods Institute for the Environment who is kicking ass when it comes to conservation efforts. She works daily with large businesses, large land-owners and local farmers to implement environmentally safe business practices into motion.

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12. Ada Yonath

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Ada Yonath is an Israeli crystallographer, best known for her expert and groundbreaking work on the structure of the ribosome. At 75 years of age, she is the first Israeli woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

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13. Molly Stevens

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Molly Stevens is leading the pack when it comes to making strides to change the way we deal with broken bones and skin. Stevens' biotech company, RepRegen, is working hard to regenerate bone and muscle so that the body will be able to heal itself instead of having to resort to the old ways of casts and staples.

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14. Elizabeth Blackburn

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Elizabeth Blackburn is a Professor in Biology and Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco. She is killing it in her work area of telomere and telomerase research. And in case you don't know what telomere is like I didn't, it is " the repetitive nucleotide sequences at each end of a chromatid, which protects the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighbouring chromosomes."

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15. Polly Matzinger

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Polly Celine Eveline Matzinger was born in 1947 in France and studied at the University of California, San Diego. She is known for her creation of the danger model, a novel explanation of the immune system. Her Danger Model changed the way doctors approached illness, with her findings highlighting how bad T-cells will throw out danger signals that require a specific immune response from the body.

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