Talent 2030

Write about a female engineer/scientist/innovator who inspires you: Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin
(Biological chemist)
by Jasmine Staples, age 16 at St Anthony’s Girls’ Catholic Academy


“My inspiration is the late Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. Although this spectacular scientist is not admired or revered in modern culture she achieved something great – to this day she is the only British female scientist to be awarded the Nobel Prize.

She was fascinated by science from a young age beginning with experiments in her parent’s loft, and soon she became entranced by the intricate structure of crystals. From there, her love of chemistry blossomed. Although her school would not let her study the subject she had found a passion for because of her gender, she fought for the right to an equal education as her male counterparts and won. Her determination to learn and advance her knowledge despite cultural barriers makes her, in my opinion, an inspirational feminist icon and a great role model to any girl longing to defy other’s expectations of her.

Dorothy was an able and hardworking student and gained a place at Somerville College, Oxford. There, she became absorbed in her studies and would often be found in the laboratory working away until the early hours of the morning. Her craving for knowledge and discovery drove her through her studies. During this time however, she also became involved in the early Labour movement, motivated by a desire to help and improve the life of others. This generosity and kindness lasted her whole life and in her later years, Dorothy spent much of her time in developing countries, working towards peace and aiding the work of scientists there.

She was always willing to help those in need so when she was asked by Howard Florey to determine the structure of penicillin, Dorothy revelled at the challenge and readily postponed her work on insulin. Her work on penicillin lead to her becoming a member of the Royal Society (the second woman to ever hold the prestigious title) and the Order of Merit. It also resulted in her nomination for the Nobel Prize, which she won in 1964. She never abandoned her previous work however. For years she struggled to solve insulin’s structure, but she never gave up, and due to years of perseverance, she finally cracked the problem in 1969.

Dorothy’s determination, resilience and achievements make her a fantastic inspirational figure to anyone.”

Interested in Dorothy Hodgkin’s work? Click here for more information.

Click here to read the other winning blogs about inspirational women in STEM.

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