"I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory", said Marie Curie about her wedding dress. According to her lecture notes, Gertrude B. Elion is quoted a few decades later: "Don't be afraid of hard work. Don't let others discourage you, or tell you that you can't do it. In my day I was told women didn't go into chemistry. I saw no reason why we couldn't."
These two quotations from famous, Nobel Prize winning chemists amply demonstrate the challenges that female scientists in the past centuries have had to overcome; challenges that are still sometimes faced by the current generation. They "must have the noblest courage, quite extraordinary talents and superior genius" wrote Carl Friedrich Gauss 1807 in a letter to mathematician Sophie Germain.
For the official book to celebrate the International Year of Chemistry, the European Association for Chemical and Molecular Sciences (EuCheMS) has chosen one of the central goals of the International Year: the contribution and role of women in chemistry. This celebration, which is the focus of European Women in Chemistry, takes us on a journey through centuries of chemical research, focusing on the lives of those amazing women from ancient times to the current day who dared to study this subject, often against advice or societal expectations.
These portraits emphasize the extraordinary path and personality of these fascinating women, their major contribution to chemistry, but all in the context of their time and social environment. Some of these women, like Marie Curie and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, are famous and still well-known today. Others have contributed significantly to the development of science and lived an exceptional life, but are nowadays almost forgotten. This book is a tribute to all of them and a motivation for new generations to come to tread new paths, fight for unusual ideas and control one?s own destiny.