Marie Curie is the No 1 woman
She is the pioneering scientist who was the first person to win two Nobel prizes, and recently has topped a poll asking which woman has had the most significant impact on world history.
BBC History magazine compiled a list of “100 women who changed the world”, chosen by 10 experts, and asked its readers to help rank them.
Polish-born Curie, who undertook pioneering research into radioactivity in the early 20th century, was voted number one, followed by Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Ada Lovelace and Rosalind Franklin.
Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science, said Curie could boast “an extraordinary array of achievements”. She was the first woman to win a Nobel prize in physics, the first female professor at the Sorbonne and the first person – “note the use of person there, not woman” – to win a second Nobel prize, awarded for chemistry in 1911, eight years after her first. She remains the only person to hold Nobel prizes in two sciences.
The odds were always stacked against her,” said Fara. “In Poland her patriotic family suffered under a Russian regime. In France she was regarded with suspicion as a foreigner – and of course, wherever she went, she was discriminated against as a woman.”