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10 Important but Largely Overlooked Women in History

6. Marie Tharp

Marie was not allowed to join the expedition in the Atlantic Ocean as women were considered to be a hazard on the sea. Later, she discovered a rift valley in the Atlantic ocean that led to the discovery of tectonic plates.

Marie Tharp
Marie Tharp’s Adventures in Mapping the Seafloor. Image credit: blogs.ei.columbia.edu

Marie Tharp, another of the overlooked women, created the first map of an ocean floor through depth data. After completing her Master’s, she joined Columbia University. There she assisted Bruce Heezen, a geology graduate.

Together their team conducted various expeditions in the Atlantic ocean to collect thousands of depth measurement data via echo sounding. They used high-frequency sounds and sonar to record the time delay of the returning echo.

But unfortunately, Marie was not a part of the actual crew as women were not allowed to join any of those expeditions. They were considered bad luck at sea. So, Marie stayed back at Columbia University to process the depth measurements.

She converted the depth data into detailed profiling of the oceanic floor. She also found a rift valley in the Atlantic ocean. This also led to the discovery of tectonic plates and earthquake epicenters and the theory of continental drift. (source)

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7. Inge Lehmann

Ms. Lehmann first came up with the theory that the Earth has a solid inner core within a liquid outer core which stood against the popularly accepted belief of seismologists at the time. In 1971 her theory was approved.

Inge Lehmann
Inge Lehmann discovered the Earth’s inner core. Image credit: shethoughtit.ilcml.com

Inge Lehmann was a Danish seismologist and geophysicist. She is widely known for her discovery that the Earth has a solid inner core within the molten outer core. Earlier, seismologists believed that the Earth’s core was made up of molten rocks surrounded by a solid mantle and the crust.

They also believed that certain seismic waves occur on the other side of the world during big earthquakes. The waves were bent when they traveled through liquid materials thus creating the “S wave.” As the inner core bends them, it created a shallow zone where no waves could be felt.

But after a 1929 Murchison earthquake, Lehmann and the other seismologist noticed something different. Some of the waves could be detected by seismometers in Europe. If the Earth’s core is entirely molten, this couldn’t have been possible. So after analyzing similar data, Inge Lehmann finally discovered the Earth’s solid inner core.

Her theory was collaborated in 1971 by computer calculations. Still, she remains one of the overlooked women in history. (source)

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8. Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones

This doctor introduced in vitro fertilization to the field of medical science. This not only enabled women with a history of miscarriage able to get pregnant again, with the discovery, along with contributions from her husband, produced the first test-tube baby.

Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones
Dr. Georgeanna Seegar Jones as ASRM President. Image credit: fertstert.org9

Dr. Georgeanna Seeger Jones is one of the most prominent names in the field of Gynecological Endocrinology. She emerged as the pioneer of in vitro fertilization in the United States. Born in Baltimore, Maryland in the year 1912, she graduated from Goucher College, Towson, and completed her M.D. from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the year 1936.

During her days at Johns Hopkins, Jones made a critical observation and proved that the pregnancy indicating hormone hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) is formed in the placenta instead of the pituitary gland.

In the year 1949, she demonstrated Luteal Phase Dysfunction and made her mark in the field of gynecology by using progesterone hormone to make women with a previous history of miscarriage conceive again.

Jones, along with her husband, Dr. Howard Jones, and Drs. Roberts and Steptoe derived the hypothesis of follicular hyperstimulation that leads to producing more than one egg per cycle. On 28 December 1981, the Jones couple successfully produced the first test-tube baby in the United States with the help of their in vitro fertilization technique. (source)

9. Daphne Oram

Daphne was the first-ever composer of electronic music, but she could never perform or practice her creation before an audience due to a sexist environment.

Daphne Oram
Daphne Oram—A Pioneer Programmer in Electronic Music. Image credit: thomholmes.com

Though one of the most overlooked women in history, Daphne Oram, the British composer, had created wonders in the field of music. She gave birth to the earliest version of electronic music. Although so popular today, Daphne neither could present her works publicly nor did she gain any recognition.

She was the creator of the Oramics technique, and the first woman to independently direct. Also, she set up a studio that was completely dedicated to electronic music. Daphne was also the first woman creator to design and create an electronic musical instrument.

Despite being the pioneer of such a revolutionary music genre, she was majorly affected by sexism. She composed a piece named “Still Point” for public demonstration but could never manage to get to a stage solely because of sexism.

The male-centric musical industry never gave her the chance that she deserved to take her music to the public. Long after her death in 2018, her musical piece saw the light of day as it was resurrected through a machine created by Daphne. (source)

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10. Bessie Coleman

Ms. Coleman was the first-ever Black pilot. In the early 1920s, she couldn’t learn to fly in America because she was Black, so she went to France and got her certificate as an airplane pilot.

Bessie Coleman
Image credits: rook76/Shutterstock.com

The desire to fly is a call of nature that none could ignore. Bessie Coleman too, couldn’t ignore it. She was Black and it was WWI-era America. Bessie wanted to learn to fly in America, but given her social class, no centers took her in.

In a desperate situation, Bessie learned that she could get her certificate in flying an aircraft from France, so she went to France. Within a very short period, Bessie Coleman became a skilled aircraft pilot and came back to America.

After her return, she became famous for her dangerous air stunts in notorious shows. Bessie Coleman became “Queen Bess” for the American people. Her success in flying an aircraft as a woman inspired thousands of African-American people in their lives.

However, her choice of profession daily risks and potential life threats proved to be her undoing. In 1926, Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman to hold an airplane pilot license, died in an aircraft accident while practicing stunts. In spite of this remarkable contribution to society, she remains a name in the list of overlooked women in history. (source)

Also read: 10 Most Badass Women Who Made Their Mark on the World History

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