At Porterhouse, as a global agency delivering insight-driven healthcare communication services, we understand that to have a positive impact on the lives of patients and healthcare professionals, it’s essential to have a diverse workforce that represents the world that we live in.
We are proud therefore to support International Women and Girls in Science Day. Observed on Sunday 11 February, the day is dedicated to celebrating and empowering women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths). This date was originally chosen to honour the birthday of Marie Curie, the pioneering physicist and chemist and an inspirational figure to women in science. So, to mark the day we asked some of our own amazing women to name female scientists who had inspired them to pursue a career in science.
The first inspirational figure nominated by Laura Hemming, Senior medical Writer, is Dame Maggie Aderin-Pocock DBE (born 1968), a British space scientist and science communicator whose passion for astronomy has ignited curiosity in countless individuals worldwide. Dr Aderin-Pocock overcame significant challenges, including dyslexia, to pursue her dreams, eventually earning a doctorate in mechanical engineering followed by many other honours and awards. Her work in space science has advanced our understanding of the universe and as a co-presenter on the BBC programme ‘The Sky at Night’, she is an inspiration to many aspiring scientists. She also worked on satellite observation instruments to help measure climate change and is a prominent advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.
“My inspirational woman in science would be the British space scientist, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.
As a teenager, I started watching the BBC program ‘The Sky at Night’, which she co-presents, and it inspired me to learn more about astronomy and the solar system. She has also worked on satellite observation instruments to help measure climate change and is a prominent advocate for diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. Although I went on to specialise in molecular biology at University, Maggie certainly contributed to my keen interest in science from a young age.”
Read more about this incredible woman: wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Aderin-Pocock
Another pioneering woman in science whose legacy continues to inspire is Rosalind Franklin, whose ground-breaking research played a crucial role in elucidating the structure of DNA. Despite facing gender discrimination in the scientific community during the mid-20th century, Franklin’s unwavering dedication to her work led to the discovery of DNA’s double helix structure. Her contributions laid the foundation for modern molecular biology and earned her posthumous recognition as one of the most influential scientists of the 20th century. Franklin’s story serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and resilience.
Nominated by Dr Beth Wynne-Evans, Principal Medical Writer and Medical Advisor, who said:
“My inspirational woman in science must be the amazing Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958), who was arguably the one who really discovered DNA but went largely unrecognised for her scientific achievements sadly.”
To read more about Rosalind Franklin, visit: wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosalind_Franklin
Last but not least, Leone Norwood Farrell (1904-1986), was nominated by Amanda Webber, Associate Director of Medical Writing at Porterhouse Medical, based in Canada.
Farrell, an accomplished biochemist and microbiologist, stands as another shining example of the proficiency of women in science. She was born in a small farming community near Ottawa but grew up in Toronto. Farrell completed a master’s degree in chemistry, and a PhD in biochemistry at the University of Toronto in 1933 – a level of academic achievement rare for women at the time. Her tireless work uncovered microbial strains of industrial importance and developed innovative techniques for the manufacture of vaccines and antibiotics. The development and improvement of vaccines became Leone’s expertise. She became involved in the successful production of cholera and penicillin vaccines in the 1940s. Her greatest achievement was inventing the “Toronto Method”, which allowed mass production of the first polio vaccine in the early 1950s. which reduced the rate of polio infections in Canadian children from 50,000 in the 1950s to almost zero by 1965. 
“My inspirational woman in science is fellow Canadian, Leone N Farrell PhD , who contributed to vaccine development and one of her innovations was key to Jonas Salk’s polio vaccine.”
To read more about this science heroine, visit: Leone Norwood Farrell | The Canadian Encyclopedia
The importance of women in science cannot be overstated – International Women and Girls in Science Day is an excellent opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of these remarkable women and to recognise each and every one of our own incredible women in science.
As we look to the future, let us reaffirm our commitment to building a scientific community that reflects the richness and diversity of the world we inhabit.
1, Defining Moments Canada: https://definingmomentscanada.ca/insulin100/stem-women/leone-farrell/