Celebrating women pioneers in science

Mae Jemison became the first woman of color in space. Rita Levi-Montalcini redefined how our bodies work. And Tu Youyou’s breakthrough malaria treatment has saved millions worldwide. Still, 64% of young women in America can’t name a woman in a single scientific discipline.

Meet the women who have broken boundaries in their fields—from chemistry to medicine to astronomy—and discover the stories of perseverance behind their breakthroughs.

Science, like all human endeavors, is evolutionary. We build by adding to and recombining what is already there

- Frances Arnold, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2018

I believe in perfecting the world and trying to do everything to improve things, but not because I know what’s to come of it.

- Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1964

Every scientist dreams of doing something that can help the world.

- Tu Youyou, Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2015
Meet the pioneers
Discover the journeys and stories of perseverance behind 19 Nobel Prize-winning breakthroughs in Women who changed science, an interactive experience aiming to empower the next generation of scientists.
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Beyond the Nobel Prize, there are countless women who have pushed boundaries and explored new frontiers in the sciences—often as unsung heroes. Astronaut, scientist, and physician Dr. Mae Jemison is trying to change that. As the first woman of color in space, she’s working to bring to light the women who made critical contributions to the US space program.

A holographic Dr. Jemison appears before a museum guest during the Defying Gravity mixed reality experience.

We all have wonderful imaginations, and it’s incumbent upon organizations with the wherewithal to make sure that they actively include people.

Dr. Mae Jemison
Dr. Mae Jemison on the importance of inclusion

Dr. Mae Jemison, first woman of color in space

From an early age, Dr. Mae Jemison has believed strongly that representation, inclusion, and diversity matter. It’s a belief that guided her path to becoming a scientist, a physician, and eventually, an astronaut: “When I was a little girl growing up, I was really irritated that there were no women astronauts and no people of color. As a seven-year-old, I thought, ‘What if aliens run into this crew? They’re going to think that those are the only people on Earth!’ I thought it was unreasonable for us not to have everyone represented.”

That’s why she joined forces with Microsoft, Smithsonian magazine and the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum to create a mixed reality experience called Defying Gravity: Women in Space showcasing the unsung women of the US space program.

Dr. Mae Jemison’s career has brought her around the globe—literally. From volunteering at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand to serving as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa to orbiting the earth in the Space Shuttle Endeavor, Dr. Jemison has strived to build a world where opportunity is available to all. In Defying Gravity: Women in Space, her hologram guides guests from all walks of life through the experience.

Celebrating the women who defy gravity
Learn more about the Defying Gravity experience at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where Dr. Mae Jemison’s hologram guides guests through a critical piece of space history, telling the stories of pioneers like Katherine Johnson, Dr. Pat Cowings, the Mercury 13, and other unsung women of the US space program.
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Inclusion isn’t just a nicety. It’s a necessity. We need to use every perspective, and all the talent we have.

- Dr. Mae Jemison