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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
Stories about the lives we've made

Tour 2: Women making the modern world

1760s1960s

Women have played vital roles in making the modern world: from inventors and Nobel prize winners to workers and housewives, women have been involved at all levels in the technological transformation of the world in which we live. This shows snapshots of women's varied involvement in science and technology over the last 250 years.


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The usual routes into engineering were closed to women during the 1760s, but determined women such as Mary Lacy found a way to enter the profession.

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Why women spun and men wove - the division of labour in early manufacturing.

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Following in her mother's footsteps, in 1935 Irene Joliot-Curie became the second woman to win a Nobel prize for science.

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Many women took part in the early 'aerial adventurism'. According to Amy Johnson: 'There is nothing more wonderful and thrilling, than going up into ... the skies in a tiny plane ... at peace with everyone, and exactly free to do what you want and go where you will.'

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Rosalind Franklin played a key role in revealing the structure of DNA, but the Nobel prize went to her male colleagues.

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New technologies have had a radical influence on women's roles in the home.

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Rachel Carson, pioneer of the environmental movement, exploded the myth of scientific progress with her 1962 bestseller on the effects of DDT.

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Dorothy Hodgkin studied the structure of pig insulin and by 1969 had accurately determined its structure.

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The first women went to space on the 16th June 1963. She was a Soviet called Valentina Tereshkova.

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