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Women’s History Month

All-Star #21: Vera Florence Cooper Rubin

Women’s History Month

All-Star #21: Vera Florence Cooper Rubin

A governor. The world’s first computer programmers. Lawyers, doctors, writers, artists and activists. Philadelphia’s history is full of incredible, history-making women whose stories, unfortunately, are often all but missing from the history books.

It shouldn’t take a dedicated month—Women’s History Month—to recognize the contributions of these heroines. But in honor of the occasion, we scoured history to find several badass Philly women to celebrate for our Women’s History Month All-Stars.

RELATED: A cadre of visionary women are behind Guild House Hotel—a newly opened boutique hotel that celebrates the history residing in our buildings by giving props to the early feminists who initially occupied the property.

21

Vera Florence Cooper Rubin

Astronomer

Vera Florence Cooper Rubin

Astronomer

1928-2016

A trailblazer in the field of galaxy rotation rates, Rubin was the second woman ever elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and a role model for, champion of, and mentor to countless female scientists and working mothers.

At the all-female Vassar College, she was the only astronomy student in her class, and she was subsequently rejected from Princeton’s graduate program because of her gender. She went on to study at Cornell and Georgetown instead, becoming a mother and juggling her professional and family lives while pursuing her graduate work.

Rubin was the first woman allowed to observe at the Palomar Observatory; reportedly, she drew a woman and pasted it over the sign on the sole bathroom there, which had been marked “MEN.”

Her research led to the understanding that only about 20 percent of matter in the universe is visible, while the remaining 80 percent is dark matter. And today, among countless other accomplishments, an area on Mars, Vera Rubin Ridge, is named after her, as are a satellite and an asteroid.


EDUCATION

  • Vassar College
  • Cornell University
  • Georgetown University


ACCOMPLISHMENTS


FINAL WORDS:

The New York Times has said that Rubin’s work “usher[ed] in a Copernican-scale change” in cosmological theory.


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