British Women Scientists

Throughout history, there have been many British women scientists who have made significant contribution to the field. The list includes many familiar and great British female scientists such as Ada Lovelace, Rosalind Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, Marie Stopes, Agnes Arber.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

Vote for Your Favourite British Women Scientists

 1 Rosalind Franklin

Rosalind Franklin.
5
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 25, 1920
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Notting Hill, London, England
Died: April 16, 1958
Chemist and X-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin is remembered for her pathbreaking X-ray diffraction studies of DNA, which helped in the Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the double helix structure of DNA by Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins later. She also worked on the molecular structures of viruses. 

 2 Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall.
4
Famous As: Primatologist
Birthdate: April 3, 1934
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London, England

Jane Goodall is an English anthropologist and primatologist. Goodall's research proved that chimpanzees could use tools like stalks of grass to fish out termites from termite holes; this also challenged the long-held belief that chimpanzees were vegetarians. Goodall also discovered that chimpanzees are capable of emotions like sorrow and joy. Goodall is also credited with founding the Jane Goodall Institute.

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 3 Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace.
39
Famous As: Countess of Lovelace
Birthdate: December 10, 1815
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: November 27, 1852

Ada Lovelace was a mathematician known for her work on the Analytical Engine, a mechanical general-purpose computer proposed by Charles Babbage. Many believe that Lovelace was the first to recognize the potential of computers. It is also believed that she published the first algorithm after realizing that the algorithm could be carried out by a machine like the Analytical Engine.

 4 Dorothy Hodgkin

Dorothy Hodgkin.
4
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: May 12, 1910
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cairo, Egypt
Died: July 29, 1994

Dorothy Hodgkin received the 1964 Nobel Prize for mapping the structure of penicillin and Vitamin B12. She is also known for her work on insulin. Beginning her work on structure of an organic compound by using X-ray crystallography as an undergraduate student, she later developed it further and used it to determine the three-dimensional structure of complex organic molecules.

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 5 Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
4
Famous As: Astronomer, University teacher
Birthdate: May 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Buckinghamshire
Died: December 7, 1979

After losing her father at 4, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin was raised singlehandedly by her mother. The incredibly talented Cecilia studied at Cambridge but failed to secure a degree because of her gender. She later joined Harvard and opposing prevalent beliefs, proposed that stars were mainly made of hydrogen and helium. 

 6 Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell
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Famous As: Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Birthdate: July 15, 1943
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Belfast

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars. She graduated from the University of Glasgow and pursued an academic career. In 2018, she received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of radio pulsars. She donated the three million dollars she received as prize money.  

 7 Sophie Wilson

Sophie Wilson
6
Famous As: computer scientist
Birthdate: 1957 AD
Birthplace: Leeds
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 8 Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes.
4
Famous As: Paleobotanist & Women’s Rights Activists
Birthdate: October 15, 1880
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Edinburgh
Died: October 2, 1958

 9 Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville
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Famous As: Mathematician, Linguist, Translator, Astronomer, Scientist
Birthdate: December 26, 1780
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Jedburgh
Died: November 28, 1872

One of the two pioneering female honorary members of the Royal Astronomical Society, Mary Somerville was a 19th-century polymath and science writer. Though she specialized in math and astronomy, she was also well-versed in botany and geology. The Connection of the Physical Sciences remains her most notable work.

 10 Helen Sharman

Helen Sharman
4
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 30, 1963
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Sheffield,England

The first British person to fly into space, Helen Sharman also became the first female astronaut to visit the Mir space station. She was selected from over 13,000 applicants to be part of the Project Juno program. She was also as a chemist for the chocolate manufacturer Mars.

 11 Gertrude Jekyll

Gertrude Jekyll
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Famous As: Horticulturist, Painter, Gardener, Non-fiction writer, Botanist, Architect
Birthdate: November 29, 1843
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: London
Died: December 8, 1932

 12 Ruth Lawrence

Ruth Lawrence
3
Famous As: Mathematician, Topologist, University teacher
Birthdate: August 2, 1971
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brighton

 13 Anne McLaren

Anne McLaren
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Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: April 26, 1927
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: London, England
Died: July 7, 2007

Geneticist Anne McLaren is remembered for her pioneering research in embryology that paved the way for further research in fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization. The Royal Society fellow had also appeared as a child actor in the film adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel Things to Come.

 14 Williamina Fleming

Williamina Fleming
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Famous As: Astronomer
Birthdate: May 15, 1857
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Dundee, Scotland
Died: May 21, 1911

Born in Scotland, Williamina Fleming moved to the U.S. with her husband, where she began working as a housekeeper for Harvard Observatory director Edward C. Pickering. Pickering secured her a job at the observatory, and Fleming went on to establish a classification and cataloguing system for stars.

 15 Steve Shirley

Steve Shirley
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Famous As: Computer scientist, Feminist
Birthdate: September 16, 1933
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dortmund

 16 Mary Leakey

Mary Leakey
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Famous As: Paleoanthropologist
Birthdate: February 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: London, England
Died: December 9, 1996

British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey had exhibited her interest in drawing and archaeology as a kid. Most of her career was spent working alongside her husband, Louis Leakey. She was in charge of many excavation projects in Kenya. Her discoveries include the first Proconsul skull fossil and 15 new animal species.

 17 Margaret Murray

Margaret Murray
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Famous As: Anthropologist, Archaeologist, Egyptologist
Birthdate: July 13, 1863
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Kolkata
Died: November 13, 1963

British Egyptologist and anthropologist Margaret Murray was also a scholar of witchcraft. Her best-known work is her 1921 book The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which inspired later witchcraft scholars such as Gerald B. Gardner. The University College London professor had worked in places such as Egypt, Malta, and Petra.

 18 Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish
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Famous As: philosopher, scientist, poet, science fiction writer
Birthdate: 1623 AD
Birthplace: Colchester, England
Died: December 15, 1673

Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish was an English poet, philosopher, playwright, fiction writer, and scientist. Margaret, who had the audacity to publish her works without using a pen name at a time when female writers remained anonymous, was ahead of her time. Not surprisingly, she was considered eccentric and earned the nickname Mad Madge. Her works gained popularity in the 1980s.

 19 Helen Willetts

Helen Willetts
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Famous As: Meteorologist
Birthdate: February 10, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Chester, England

 20 Anna Atkins

Anna Atkins
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Birthdate: 0000 AD

 21 Venetia Phair

Venetia Phair
3
Famous As: Amateur astronomer
Birthdate: July 11, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Oxford, England
Died: April 30, 2009

 22 Brenda Milner

Brenda Milner
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Famous As: Neuroscientist, Psychologist, University teacher
Birthdate: July 15, 1918
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Manchester

Considered a pioneer in her field, centenarian neuropsychologist Brenda Milner is known for her immense contribution to clinical neuropsychology. Especially known for her work on memory and cognition, she has contributed immensely to the study of temporal lobe. Her papers on the frontal lobes in problem-solving and the lateralization of hemispheric function in language are also highly regarded by scholars.

 23 Christina Pagel

Christina Pagel
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Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: London, England

 24 Susan Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield

Susan Greenfield, Baroness Greenfield
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Famous As: Politician, Biologist
Birthdate: October 1, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Hammersmith

 25 Mary Everest Boole

Mary Everest Boole
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Famous As: mathematician, philosopher
Birthdate: 1832 AD
Birthplace: Wickwar
Died: 1916 AD

 26 Margaret Burbidge

Margaret Burbidge
2
Famous As: Astrophysicist
Birthdate: August 12, 1919
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Davenport,England

Margaret Burbidge was a British-American observational astronomer and astrophysicist. She was the first author of the influential B2FH paper and one of the founders of stellar nucleosynthesis. She held several leadership and administrative posts and was well known for her work opposing discrimination against women in astronomy. In 1988, she was awarded the Albert Einstein World Award of Science. 

 27 Hertha Ayrton

Hertha Ayrton
2
Famous As: Engineer
Birthdate: April 28, 1854
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Portsea Island, England
Died: August 26, 1923

Hertha Ayrton was a British engineer,  physicist, mathematician, and inventor. She is remembered for her work on electric arcs and ripple marks in sand and water, for which she was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society. As a woman in the 19th century, she had to face innumerable struggles in her career. She was also a passionate suffragist. 

 28 Marie Cassidy

Marie Cassidy
2
Famous As: Pathologist
Birthdate: 1951 AD
Birthplace: Rutherglen, Scotland

 29 Müge Çevik

Müge Çevik
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Turkey

 30 Maheshi Ramasamy

Maheshi Ramasamy
2
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: Sri Lanka
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 31 Catharine Parr Traill

Catharine Parr Traill
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Famous As: Author
Birthdate: January 9, 1802
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Southwark, England
Died: August 29, 1899

Catharine Parr Traill moved from England to Canada after her marriage and soon became one of the greatest authors of children’s and settlers’ literature of her time. Her writings reflected the charm of the Canadian countryside. Her letters to her mother in England were collated in The Backwoods of Canada.

 32 Kathleen Ollerenshaw

Kathleen Ollerenshaw
1
Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: October 1, 1912
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Withington, Manchester, England
Died: August 10, 2014

 33 Elsie Widdowson

Elsie Widdowson
1
Famous As: Nutritionist
Birthdate: October 21, 1906
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: June 14, 2000

 34 Agnes Arber

Agnes Arber.
1
Famous As: Botanist
Birthdate: February 23, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London
Died: March 22, 1960

 35 Eva Crane

Eva Crane
1
Famous As: Researcher
Birthdate: June 12, 1912
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: September 6, 2007

 36 Janet Lane-Claypon

Janet Lane-Claypon.
1
Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: February 3, 1877
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lincolnshire
Died: July 17, 1967

 37 Edith Rebecca Saunders

Edith Rebecca Saunders
1
Famous As: Geneticist
Birthdate: October 14, 1865
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Brighton, England
Died: June 6, 1945

Known especially for her work on trait inheritance in plants, Edith Rebecca Saunders has been described as the mother of British plant genetics. Beginning her career as a botany teacher at Newnham College, she later became the director of the Balfour Biological Laboratory for Women, concurrently continuing with her own research works, publishing series of papers on inheritance in plants.

 38 Muriel Wheldale Onslow

Muriel Wheldale Onslow
0
Famous As: Biochemist
Birthdate: March 31, 1880
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Birmingham, England
Died: May 19, 1932

 39 Sarah Thomas

Sarah Thomas
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Famous As: Fashion model
Birthdate: March 17, 1980
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Swardeston, England

 40 Marta Tufet

Marta Tufet
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Famous As: Biologist
Birthdate: 0000 AD
Birthplace: United Kingdom

 41 Mary Horner Lyell

Mary Horner Lyell
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Famous As: Geologist
Birthdate: October 9, 1808
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Pancras, London, England
Died: April 24, 1873

 42 Edith Humphrey

Edith Humphrey
0
Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 11, 1875
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, United Kingdom
Died: February 25, 1978