Marie Curie Has Been Crowned The Most Influential Woman In History

When you casually win the Noble prize... twice

Pioneering physicist and scientist Marie Curie, has been bestowed the title of the most influential woman in history, topping a list of 100 fellow female trailblazers.

The list, compiled by BBC History magazine looked at women who have changed the world through their activism, research or art. American civil rights activist Rosa Parks, came in second place, meaning Marie sits atop the likes of the legendary Parks, Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer, Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, and writer Mary Wollstonecraft.

Polish-born Curie has a lot of feathers in her cap; she conducted important research in radioactivity (a term she coined) and discovered two new elements, radium and polonium, at the end of the 19th century.

Curie developed a portable X-ray machine to treat soldiers in World War II and her discoveries have also launched effective cures for cancer.

Marie Curie

Curie was also the first person (not woman) to win two Noble prizes, one for physics and another for chemistry.

To this day, Curie is the only person, regardless of gender, to receive Noble prizes for two different sciences.

Curie’s achievements were made even greater, as she faced constant adversity and discrimination throughout her career.  

Curie’s nominee, Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science, said:

“The odds were always stacked against her. 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.”

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