List of female scientists before the 20th century

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This is a historical list, intended to deal with the time period when women working in science were rare. For this reason, this list ends with the 20th century.


  • Aemilia (c. 300-363), Gallo-Roman physician
  • Agamede (12th century BCE), (possibly mythical) physician in Ancient Greece
  • Aglaonike (2nd century BCE), the first woman astronomer in Ancient Greece
  • Agnodike (4th century BCE), the first woman physician to practice legally in Athens[1]:2
  • Arete of Cyrene (5th–4th centuries BCE), natural and moral philosopher, North Africa
  • Artemisia of Caria (c. 300 BCE), botanist
  • Aspasia (4th century BCE), philosopher and scientist
  • Aspasia the Physician (fl. 1st century CE), Greek physician
  • Cleopatra the Alchemist - wrote the alchemical book, Chrysopoeia, or "gold-making".[2]:99[3]
  • Diotima of Mantinea (4th century BCE), philosopher and scientist, ancient Greece (sources vary as to her historicity; possibly a fictionalized character based on Aspasia of Miletus)
  • Enheduanna (c. 2285–2250 BCE), Sumerian/Akkadian astronomer and poet
  • Hypatia (370–415), mathematician and astronomer, Egypt[1]:137

Middle Ages[edit]

Herrad of Landsbert

16th century[edit]

17th century[edit]

Margaret Cavendish

18th century[edit]

19th century[edit]




Biology or natural history[edit]

Mary Anning






Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace)
  • Dorothy Vaughan (1910–2008), American mathematician, worked at NACA's Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory



Nuclear physics[edit]

  • Lise Meitner (1878–1968), Austrian, Swedish, nuclear physicist



Science education[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab Yount 2007
  2. ^ a b Ogilvie 1986
  3. ^ Brown, James Campbell (1920). A History of Chemistry from the Earliest Times. P. Blakiston's Son & Company. pp. 19–24. 
  4. ^ Gabriele Kass-Simon, Patricia Farnes, Deborah Nash, eds. (1999). Women of science : righting the record (First Midland Book ed.). Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana Univ. Press. p. 301. ISBN 9780253208132. 
  5. ^ a b c d Walsh 1911
  6. ^ a b c d e Howard 2006
  7. ^ Alic 1986
  8. ^ "Sarah Whiting". CWP.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Rayner-Canham & Rayner-Canham 2001
  10. ^ Rayner-Canham, Marelene; Rayner-Canham, Geoff (23 Feb 2009). "Fight for Rights" (PDF). Chemistry World 6 (3): 56–59. 


  • Alic, Margaret (1986). Hypatia's heritage : a history of women in science from antiquity through the nineteenth century. Boston: Beacon Press. ISBN 9780807067314. 
  • Byers, Nina. "Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics". UCLA. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  • Herzenberg, Caroline L. (1986). Women scientists from antiquity to the present : an index : an international reference listing and biographical directory of some notable women scientists from ancient to modern times. West Cornwall, CT: Locust Hill Press. ISBN 0-933951-01-9. 
  • Howard, Sethanne (2006). The hidden giants. ISBN 978-1430300762. 
  • Howes, Ruth H.; Herzenberg, Caroline L. (1999). Their day in the sun : women of the Manhattan Project. Philadelphia: Temple Univ. Press. ISBN 1-56639-719-7. 
  • Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey (1986). Women in science : antiquity through the nineteenth century : a biographical dictionary with annotated bibliography (3. print. ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-15031-X. 
  • Rayner-Canham, Marelene; Rayner-Canham, Geoffrey (2001). Women in chemistry : their changing roles from alchemical times to the mid-twentieth century. Philadelphia: Chemical Heritage Foundation. ISBN 978-0941901277. 
  • Stevens, Gwendolyn; Gardner, Sheldon (1982). The women of psychology. Cambridge, Mass.: Schenkman. ISBN 9780870734434. 
  • Walsh, James J. (2014). "VIII. Medieval Women Physicians". Old-Time Makers of Medicine The Students and Teachers of Medicine During the Middle Ages. Auckland: The Floating Press. pp. 150–169. ISBN 9781776530236. 
  • Yount, Lisa (2007). A to Z of Women in Science and Math (Rev. ed.). New York: Infobase Pub. ISBN 9781438107950. 

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