Campaign names Marie Curie as the most inspirational woman of all time

Marie Curie
Marie Curie provided by

Marie Curie has been named as the most inspirational woman of all time, in a new campaign.

A survey, carried out by Your Life, has named the top 50 most inspirational women of all time with the physicist and chemist topping the list.

Marie Curie, born in 1867, was a Polish scientist who was famous for her work on radioactivity. Throughout her life, Curie had many notable achievements. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win the award twice; and the only person to win twice in multiple sciences.

She also founded the Curie Institutes, leading research centres, in Paris and Warsaw. During the First World War, Curie established the first military field radiological centres, meaning the mobile x-rays could be taken.

Curie died in 1934, aged 66 due to radiation poisoning from carrying around test tubes of radium in her pockets and coming into contact with radiation from x-ray machines.

Florence Nightingale, Anne Frank and Emmeline Pankhurst also feature in the top four. Margaret Thatcher was the highest-ranking politician at ninth, whilst current Prime Minister Theresa May came 20th. Dame Kelly Holmes, Jessica Ennis-Hill CBE and Serena Williams were voted the most inspirational female athletes.

Seven out of ten of those surveyed said that the success and prominence of figures such as German chancellor Angela Merkel and Theresa May, made them feel that the top political jobs were now more open to women.

Engineering, business, politics, law and computer science were found to be the top five career fields more open to females now than ever before. Despite this, over half of those surveyed still thought that many career fields were still not open to women.

Edwina Dunn, Your Life campaign chair said, “Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale deserve this accolade of being named the most inspirational women of all time.”

“They are two brilliant icons whose determination, intelligence and altruism, led incredible scientific advances that changed the world.”

“We want a new generation to be inspired to follow in their footsteps.”

“Positive role models with inspirational qualities make the most profound difference in shifting perceptions of jobs and professions.”

“We want more girls to consider a career in the sciences and be the role models and change makers of tomorrow.”

The survey was conducted ahead of Inspiration Week, which starts next Monday. The week will encourage teenagers to carefully think about their A-Level options and to consider studying maths and physic.

Your Life is a three-year, STEM campaign encouraging and informing young people about STEM subjects, particularly physics and maths. Companies such as BAE Systems, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, Nestle and Shell are all in support of the scheme.

View the full list of the Top 50 Inspirational Women below:

  1. Marie Curie
  2. Florence Nightingale
  3. Anne Frank
  4. Emmeline Pankhurst
  5. Queen Elizabeth II
  6. J K Rowling
  7. Mother Theresa
  8. Princess Diana
  9. Margaret Thatcher
  10. Jessica Ennis-Hill
  11. Amelia Earhart
  12. Joan of Arc
  13. Judi Dench
  14. Jane Austen
  15. Michelle Obama
  16. Queen Elizabeth I
  17. Marie Stopes
  18. Indira Gandhi
  19. Rosa Parks
  20. Theresa May
  21. Kelly Holmes
  22. Aung San Suu Kyi
  23. Kate, Duchess of Cambridge
  24. Oprah Winfrey
  25. Ada Lovelace
  26. Dawn French
  27. Emma Watson
  28. Serena Williams
  29. Angelina Jolie
  30. Hillary Clinton
  31. Mary Berry
  32. Billie Jean King
  33. Aretha Franklin
  34. Benazir Bhutto
  35. Cleopatra
  36. Karen Brady
  37. Malala Yousafzai
  38. Mary Quant
  39. Maya Angelou
  40. Marilyn Monroe
  41. Katharine Hepburn
  42. Billie Holiday
  43. Debbie Harry
  44. Venus Williams
  45. Beyoncé
  46. Carole King
  47. Madonna
  48. Bette Davis
  49. Twiggy
  50. Nigella Lawson

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.

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