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Science & Innovation

Women have always played a foundational role in science, technology, engineering, and math—from biologists protecting endangered species to astronomers mapping the universe to the "hidden figures" who solved mathematical equations for space flight.

Collection Objects

Learn the stories of these women or explore more collections related to women in science

Blue stamp with a sepia photo of Barbara McClintock on it. The stamp also features a scientific drawing of her work on transposons and the words Barbara McClintock Geneticist.

A Microscope, A Unique Vision, and a Nobel Prize-Winning Discovery

James Stewart, Hedy Lamarr, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Tony Martin in a Paint Book from Ziegfeld Girl. An illustrated Lamarr wears gold.

Hollywood Beauty Hedy Lamarr Devised Military Technology

Leather nametag with gold NASA logo and the name Mae Jemison.

Mae Jemison: The First Female African American Astronaut

Ruby Hirose sits at a lab station. She wears a white lab coat and holds a pipette.

Ruby Hirose, Lauded Japanese American Scientist

Scientific illustration of Arthrostylidium sarmentosum, a bamboo.

On Mountains and Picket Lines, Botanist Agnes Chase Changed Views of Women

 This artifact is a Development Test Model (DTM) for the Voyager spacecraft.

Breaking into Planetary Science and Exploring the Solar System

Conversation Kit

Let's Talk! Bessie Coleman: Community Innovator Conversation Kit
Bessie Coleman: Community Innovator Teaching and Discussion Guide

Grades 6–8. Time: Variable (1–2 class periods). Aligned with C3 standards.

In this conversation guide, students will learn about pilot Bessie Coleman, an innovator who sought to create change for her community.  In exploring her story as the first woman of African American and Native American descent to earn a pilots license, students will examine the question: How do we bring change to our community?


Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina astronaut in space and first Latina, only the second woman, to serve as the Director of the Johnson Space Center, responsible for all astronaut activities for NASA. Find out how this daring and tenacious Latina went beyond the barrier and set new heights for young girls to reach for the stars.

Although no women traveled to the Moon as part of the Apollo program, there were a small number of women involved in the Apollo program, including engineers, mathematicians, and doctors. Hear from three women who worked on Apollo missions to learn about how they got involved in the program, their inspiration, and obstacles they faced.

Learn about Alida Ortiz Sotomayor, the first Puerto Rican woman to obtain a Ph.D. in Marine Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez in 1976.

Roxy Laybourne was a pioneer in forensic ornithology whose work greatly improved the safety of flight. Carla Dove, program director of the National Museum of Natural History's Feather Identification Lab, shares the story of Laybourne.

Smithsonian American Women book cover.

Smithsonian American Women

Remarkable objects and stories of strength, ingenuity, and vision from the National Collection.

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