Women in Science 

Special Article Collection Celebrates Annual Reviews Contributors

Pioneering women scientists have been intrinsic to Annual Reviews, as Authors by intelligently synthesizing research and as Editors by curating articles into our 51 journals across the biomedical, life, physical, and social sciences.

In support of the UN’s International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we recognize some of the experts that have contributed to Annual Reviews’ journals, who have and continue to pave the way for future generations of scientists across the world.

The women featured in this special article collection are ground-breaking leaders of their disciplines and advocates for the advancement of science. They represent a small selection of world-renowned scholars who have contributed to Annual Reviews over the years and whose articles continue to serve as resources for today’s scientists, shaping future discoveries.

Browse the collection below and our journals to discover many other accomplished women.

Biomedical Sciences

Rita Levi-Montalcini. Source: Wikimedia.org

Rita Levi-Montalcini was a Sephardic Jew born in 1909 in Turin who grew up fighting discrimination against her race and her gender; first having to convince her father that attending medical school would not “disrupt her potential life as a mother and wife”, then fighting to continue her academic career clandestinely after Benito Mussolini’s 1938 Manifesto of Race banned Jews from academic and professional careers. Levi-Montalcini continued her research in hiding during the Holocaust, setting up a laboratory in her family’s hiding space and using a false identity under protection from non-Jewish friends.

Rita Levi-Montalcini, an Italian Nobel Laureate was honored in 1986 for her joint discovery of nerve growth factor.

Judith G. Hall, Clinical Geneticist and Pediatrician, was inducted into the Canadian Hall of Fame in 2015

To me, high achievement is not the number of publications but being a successful female in a world of professional men. And by that I mean caring more about peacemaking and nurturing the individual and the environment than success, winning, owning or directing.1

Elaine Sarkin Jaffe. Source: Wikimedia.org

Elaine Sarkin Jaffe, senior National Cancer Institute (NCI) investigator at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the most-cited researchers in clinical medicine.

Lee-Ann Jaykus, Scientific Director of NoroCORE

1Source: Wikipedia

Life Sciences

Ida Smedley-MacLean and Marjory Stephenson broke ground as the first women admitted to the London Chemical Society (1920). Stephenson was also one of the first women elected into the Royal Society. She shared the landmark election with Kathleen Lonsdale, after Hertha Ayrton’s rejection in 1902 resulted in a legal dispute over whether a woman could be a Fellow. In 1919 the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act was passed as law and in 1929 Stephenson and Lonsdale won a majority vote among Fellows resulting in their election. Stephenson was awarded the MBE for her service on the Toxin Committee during World War II. Both of these women contributed to the first volume of Annual Review of Biochemistry in 1933.

Ida Smedley-MacLean (1877-1944), biochemist, co-founder of the British Federation of University Women (1907), president of the British Federation of University Women (1929-1935)

Elizabeth Helen Blackburn. Source: Wikimedia.org

Marjory Stephenson, MBE, FRS, co-founder of the Society for General Microbiology (1885-1948)

Elizabeth Helen Blackburn, Australian-American Nobel Laureate (Physiology or Medicine) was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2009 for the co-discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase.

Jennifer A. Doudna. Source: Wikimedia.org

Ada Yonath, crystallographer, the first Israeli woman to win the Nobel Prize (Chemistry, 2009)

I'm sorry that I can't, I can't think this is because of my gender. And, I don't think that I did something that is specially for women, or the opposite. During my time I had some very difficult years and I had very pronounced competition, all by men. But I don't think that this is because I was a woman. I'm pretty sure that if I was a man too they would compete, if the men would get to where I was at that time.

–Transcript of the telephone interview with Ada E. Yonath immediately following the announcement of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2014. Web. 1 Feb 2018.

May Berenbaum, Entomologist, Editor of Annual Review of Entomology for 21 years, awarded the National Medal of Science (2014)

Jennifer A. Doudna, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, American Biochemist and winner of many prestigious awards for her pioneering leadership in developing CRISPR-mediated genome editing

Physical sciences

Mildred Dresselhaus. Source: Wikimedia.org

Mildred Dresselhaus (1930-2017) was driven by her passion for science, rather than actively seeking to inspire future generations with her legacy. She was motivated to pursue a career in science by her school teacher, Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (winner of 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine). In her research position at MIT Lincoln Lab, Dresselhaus was one of two women among one thousand men. Shortly before she died in early 2017, Dresselhaus was “immortalized” in a GE advertisement that asked the question “What if female scientists were treated like celebrities?”, aiming to attract more women to careers in STEM.

To be sure, if you have an interest and if you have the ability to do it there are opportunities, but nowadays it’s very different because women expect to have equality and equal recognition. When I started out I was only thinking of opportunities, so my early years I was focussing on that, but I’d join the movement. If we can have equality, why not?

—Mildred Dresselhaus, on receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Mildred Dresselhaus, known as “the queen of carbon science”, was the first female Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the National Medal of Science, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was the first woman to receive the IEEE Medal of Honor (2015).

Katherine H. Freeman is a Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. She is a Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences.

Lisa Kaltenegger. Source: Wikimedia.org

Lisa Kaltenegger is known for her studies of the atmospheres of extrasolar planets, especially Earth-like ones and is a pioneer in the study of the Earth as an astronomical object evolving in time.

Social sciences

In 1922, Mirra Komarovsky was advised by one of her early professors at Barnard College not to pursue higher education due to the double barriers she would face as a Jewish woman. She later joined the faculty of Barnard College for 32 years, before returning after just eight years of retirement to chair the women’s studies program for an additional 24 years. Professor Komarovsky wrote “Women in the Modern Wold: Their Education and Their Dilemmas” (1953, Irvington), which is credited as initiating the contemporary analysis of gender roles. On gender equality, she acknowledged that significant change was needed to reflect the modern aspirations of women:

Young women are becoming aware that the call to equal opportunities for women outside the home is an empty slogan as long as the society insists on traditional role segregation within the family. Some women react to this discovery with equanimity, others with frustration, resignation or indignation. But the real touchstone of their aspirations is the longing for a society in which the rhetoric of equality will be realized as fact. There is no denying that this would require major institutional changes.2

Russian-born American, Komarovsky, was among the pioneers who led her discipline in exploring gender and the role of women in society.

Elinor Ostrom. Source: Annualreviews.org

Elinor Ostrom remains the only woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economics (2009). Her work was associated with the New Institutional Economics and the resurgence of political economy.3

American sociologist Joan N. Huber focused her research on gender stratification. She served as President of Sociologists for Women in Society (1972-1974)

Elizabeth F. Loftus. Source: Wikimedia.org

Elizabeth F. Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist renowned for her work on human memory and the misinformation effect.

  • Eavesdropping on Memory, Annual Review of Psychology, 2017
  • Knowable Magazine article on Elizabeth F. Loftus and how her work has influenced the legal system. Read here.

Margaret Levi actively works in the fields of comparative political economy, labor politics, and democratic theory. She is the Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Political Science.

Karen S. Cook, American sociologist is the Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology, Vice-Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, and Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford University. She is the Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Sociology.

Susan Fiske, American psychologist is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs at Princeton University. Her research focuses on the influence of social relationships on stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination. She has been the Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Psychology for 18 years.

Fiske’s work has had real-world impact. The U.S. Supreme Court in a 1989 landmark decision on gender bias cited her expert testimony in discrimination cases. In 1998, she also testified before President Clinton’s Race Initiative Advisory Board, and in 2001-03, she co-authored a National Academy of Science, National Research Council report on Methods for Measuring Discrimination.

Tanya M. Smith focuses her research on the dental microstructure, and how it informs understanding of human growth and development. She is an advocate for Women in STEM.

2New York Times Op-Ed page, 1981
3Aligica, Paul Dragos; Boettke, Peter (2010). “Ostrom, Elinor”. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics (Online ed.)

Annual Reviews is a nonprofit publisher with a mission to synthesize and integrate knowledge for the progress of science and the benefit of society. We currently publish 51 highly cited journals in the Biomedical, Life, Physical, and Social Sciences, including Economics.

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