We find ourselves at the end of another month, May, and there still has not been a single Google Doodle in the United States this year that honored a woman (out of 15 Doodles shown here). Internationally, the numbers are better, but still not adequate: worldwide, Google has honored 50 men and only 6 women (most recently the amazing Ruby Payne-Scott, an Australian pioneer in the field of radio astronomy) in 2012.
To close May out, we’ll be taking another look at wonderful women, certainly worthy of Google Doodles, who represent the ideals and values that Doodles are intended to highlight. As I mentioned last month, this can’t be a comprehensive listing of every single important individual born in May, but a fun way to highlight all the amazing, wonderful things women have done to make our world a better place.
Here is a sampling of all of the wonderful Doodle-Worthy Women of May!
- Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, born May 10, 1900, was the astronomer who first showed that the spectral classes of stars were related to their temperature (rather than the abundance of elements within them) and showed that stars, including our Sun, are composed overwhelmingly of hydrogen and helium. She completed this important work in her PhD at Harvard/Radcliffe after she left the UK given that Cambridge University would not award a degree to a woman at the time. Payne-Gaposchkin later became the first women to chair a department at Harvard and was the first recipient of the Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy.
- Diane Nash, born May 15, 1938, was a highly active and visible leader of the student wing of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Nash is also known for her work as a Freedom Rider and in the Selma Voting Rights campaign. She is the recipient of the Rosa Parks Award, the Distinguished American Award from the John F. Kennedy Library and Foundation, and the Freedom Award from the National Civil Rights Museum.
- Dorothea Lange, born May 26, 1895, an American photojournalist whose work personalized the effects of the Great Depression and the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, among other events. Her efforts furthered the development of photography as both an art and a critical tool for historical documentation.
- Chien-Shiung Wu, also known as “Madame Wu” or the “First Lady of Physics,” born May 31, 1912, was a Chinese-American physicist of the mid-20th century whose work focused on experimental techniques and the physics of radioactivity. Over the course of her career, she was on the faculty at Smith College, Princeton University, and finally Columbia University from 1944-1980. Madame Wu was the first Chinese-American elected into the National Academy of Sciences, the first female instructor in the physics department at Princeton, the first female president of the American Physical Society, and the first recipient of the physics Wolf Prize, among many other prizes and honors awarded during her career.