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Women In STEM Travel Guide: UK edition

Recognizing the women who have changed STEM history

Salute to their first woman in space at the London Science Museum

I am spending this summer in London, and as I’ve been traveling around the UK, I’ve come across some salutes to women in STEM. However, I think they need a bit more attention. While they may not be prominent, keep your eyes peeled and you will find them.

With this is mind, I decided to put together my #womeninstem travel guide from your next trip to the UK. I hope it makes it easier to honor and learn about these historic women who have paved the way for generations of women who have followed during your trip.

Valentina Tereshkova

Science Museum

Exhibition Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2DD

The London Science Museum has a small exhibit within their space section honoring the first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova. There you can watch a video about her accomplishments as well as see items and artifacts from her life.

Selected as a Russian cosmonaut for her expertise in parachute jumping, she launched into space aboard Vostok 6 on June 16, 1963. After 48 orbits, she returned to Earth. With that single flight, she logged more flight time than the combined times of all American astronauts who had flown before that date. She has continued to work in politics since returning to Earth.

Fossil Woman Mary Anning

Natural History Museum

Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW7 5BD

Mary Anning was an English fossil collector and amateur paleontologist who became known around the world for important finds in Jurassic marine fossil beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis in Southwest England. From 1810 to 1811, her and her brother found the first complete Ichthyosaur skeleton. Her discoveries provided evidence that was crucial to the development of new ideas about the history of the Earth.

See a salute to her on the fossil wall of the Museum of Natural History in London.

Ada’s plaque on the side of a building on the North side of St. James Square

Ada Lovelace

12 St James’s Square, St James’s, London SW1Y 4RB, City of Westminster

I took a different way home from work one day in London and passed by this sign! Ada Lovelace lived in this building near my workplace. Ada, Countess of Lovelace, was a mathematician and computing pioneer. She has been called the world’s first computer programmer because of her work on the analytical engine developed by Charles Babbage, arguably the inventor of the computer. If you want to see it when you visit London, it is next to the London Library and Cypriot Embassy on St. James Square.

The plaque was put up in 1992 and is one of the blue plaque series around London recognizing people of importance that have lived in the city. You can also find a plaque for Sir Isaac Newton nearby as well!

Elizabeth Garret Anderson’s Portrait

Elizabeth Garret Anderson

National Portrait Gallery

St. Martin’s Place, London WC2H 0HE

Found at the National Portrait Gallery in London, this portrait is a portriat of Elizabeth Garret Anderson, a physician and the only woman member of the British Medical Association for 19 years.

She accomplished quite a list of firsts. She was the first woman to qualify in Britain as both a physician and surgeon. She was the co-founder of the first hospital staffed by women, created the London School of Medicine for Women, first female doctor of medicine in France, first woman in Britain to be elected to a school board and the first female mayor and magistrate in Britain. You can find her portrait in the science focused room of the National Portrait Gallery.

The portrait was painted in 1900 by John Singer Sargent.

Rosalind Franklin

The Eagle

8 Benet Street, Cambridge CB2 3QN

During my visit to Cambridge I went to The Eagle pub, the place where Watson and Crick announced their discovery of DNA. However, look close and you can find this plaque created in honor of Rosalind Franklin whose work enabled the discovery of DNA, but passed away before the Nobel Prize was awarded. So happy she is getting some recognition today!

A bust of Rosalind Franklin is also outside the Rosalind Franklin Building at Newnham. Franklin took her Part II exam in Natural Sciences at Newnham in 1941.

Have any other great women in STEM tour stops you would recommend in the UK? Comment below or tweet me! I’d love to visit them while I’m here and add to the list!