Contact us: +61 8 8303 0961
Office for Women

Women Trailblazers and Role Models

Women have contributed richly to the achievements of science, technology, engineering and maths. Many of these accomplishments have been forgotten, ignored and even hidden. Without their pioneering work, our quality of life would be much different.

Positive female role models are important if we are to challenge the myths about who becomes a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician. Role models can also inspire women already in STEM to continue and progress, and they can help all STEM managers and staff to break down barriers.


  • Amelia Earhart (aviator) first person to fly solo anywhere in the Pacific, first person to attempt to circumnavigate the globe by plane
  • Emmy Noether (mathematician) recognised as the most creative abstract algebraist of modern times. Described by Albert Einstein as the most important woman in the history of mathematics. She also well-known for her groundbreaking contributions to theoretical physics
  • Florence Nightingale (nurse and statistician) founder of modern nursing, invented a form of the pie chart
  • Ginni Rometty (electrical engineer) first woman CEO and Chair of IBM
  • Hedy Lamarr (actress and inventor) invented communication technology that is used in WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth and almost every single modern communication device
  • Hypatia (mathematician, astronomer and philosopher) first recorded woman scientist in history
  • Jane Goodall (primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist) world's foremost expert on chimpanzees
  • Maria Mitchell (astronomer) discovered the 'Miss Mitchell's Comet' in 1847 and was the first person (male or female) to be appointed as professor of astronomy at Vasser University
  • Marie Curie (physicist and chemist) first woman to win the Nobel Prize (in Physics) and first person to win one in two categories (she also won in Chemistry). Discovered polonium and radium.
  • Mary Leakey (archaeologist and scientific illustrator) discovered the first ancient skeleton of a primitive ape 'Australopithecus'. She also located the fossilized footprints of our human ancestors that confirmed that they had started walking upright 3.6 million years ago
  • Rosalind Franklin (biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer) best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix
  • Valentina Tereshkova (astronaut) first woman in space.

This is what a scientist looks like (and a technician, and an engineer, and a mathematician, and…)

Page last updated : 30 Sep 2021
Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
02 Mar 2021
Printed on:
01 Oct 2023
The Office for Women website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence. © Copyright 2016