Marie Skłodowska Curie voted the woman who has made the most significant impact on world history
Marie Skłodowska Curie has been voted the woman who has made the most significant impact on world history.
In a reader poll conducted by BBC History Magazine of the 100 women who changed the world, the pioneering scientist came out on top, above the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Diana, Princess of Wales, Emmeline Pankhurst and the Virgin Mary.
She was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity.
She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, and was part of the Curie family legacy of five Nobel Prizes. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris.
Her discoveries launched effective cures for cancer and helped in the development of X-rays in surgery.
The magazine asked experts in 10 different fields of human endeavour to each nominate 10 women they believe had the biggest impact, to create the list of 100 women for readers to choose from.
Curie’s nominee, Patricia Fara, president of the British Society for the History of Science, said: “She (Curie) was the first woman to win a Nobel prize in physics, first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first person – note the use of person there, not woman – to win a second Nobel prize.
“The odds were always stacked against her. In Poland her patriotic family suffered under a Russian regime. In France she was regarded with suspicion as a foreigner – and of course, wherever she went, she was discriminated against as a woman.”