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May 31

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This version of Women of Achievement has been taken
from the draft of an unpublished book based on
Irene Stuber's files on women of achievement and herstory.
The full text of this episode of Women of Achievement and Herstory
will be published here in the future.


Chien-shiung Wu


QUOTE by Mary Wollstonecraft.

"Ask Ms. Wu"

Chien-shiung Wu, Chinese-born U.S. physicist, one of the foremost scientists of her day, developed the experimental proof that enabled two theoretical scientists to win the Nobel prize. Of course, she did not share in the prize.
      When she was ignored for the Nobel, U.S. Senator and wit Clare Boothe Luce said,
"When Dr. Wu knocked out that principle of parity, she established the principle of parity between men and women."
      Born 05-31-1912, Wu provided the first proof that the principle of parity conservation does not hold in weak subatomic interactions - a finding that rated headlines throughout the world because it overturned what had been considered a fundamental law of nature.
      As one of the most highly regarded physicists of the world, she was professor Emeritus of Physics at Columbia University (full professor (1958), and winner of almost every prestigious award possible - except the one she made possible for two men.
      Her Beta Decay (1965) is the standard reference for nuclear physicists. In 1975, Dr. Wu became the first woman to be elected president of the American Physical Society, the chief organization of physicists in the United States. She was also the first woman to receive the Cyrus B. Comstock Award of the National Academy of Sciences. She also received the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest award for achievement in science, and the Wolf Prize in physics. Dr. Wu was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.
      When famed physicist Enrico Fermi, one of the fathers of the atom bomb, couldn't solve a problem, he was told,
"Ask Ms. Wu."
      And yes, she had the answer.

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B. 05-31-1443, Margaret Beaufort, highly intelligent woman and patron who endowed the all-male St. John's College (1511) and Christ's College (1505) at Cambridge as well as translating devotional books and tracts.
      Her son followed his uncle to the throne to become Henry VII of England.
      An amazing woman beyond her time.

Event 05-31-1783: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard and Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrunwere admited to the French Academy in Rome (Académe Royale), joining Anne Vallayer-Coster and Mme. Vien.
      The academy immediately voted to limit membership to just four women members, artistic ability was not to be considered about any woman above the quota.

B. 05-31-1862, Cynthia May Westover (Alden) - U.S. founder of an international society to aid the blind. While working as secretary to the N.Y. city commissioner of street cleaning she invented and patented an improved combination street cleaner's handcart and a self-cleaning dump cart.
      She went on to edit at a newspaper and publish several popular stories.
      CW began a custom of sending Christmas cards to shut-ins, then began to send gifts. Through publicizing the need in her newspaper columns, the Sunshine Society was organized. At her death the society that she headed for 31 years, had 500 local chapters in 38 states and 8 foreign nations and operated hospitals and homes for the blind and orphans, summer camps, lodges, facilities for working women, and other services.

B. 05-31-1893, Elizabeth Coatsworth - U.S. imagist poet and writer of The Cat Who Went to Heaven that won the 1931 Newbery Award.

B. 05-31-1915, Judith Wright - Australian poet, editor, biographer, novelist, and essayist.

B. 05-31-1924, Patricia Roberts Harris - U.S. attorney who held TWO cabinet positions, was a U.S ambassador, and was dean of a law school. She was the first black woman to hold any of those positions.
      In 1965 she achieved the highest diplomatic rank for a black woman when she was appointed ambassador to Luxembourg, She also became the first black woman to hold a cabinet position when she was appointed secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 1977 by Jimmy Carter and then she moved on to head the office of Health, Education, and Welfare from 1979 to 1981.
      PRH was dean of Howard University Law School. In 1971 she became the first black woman appointed a director of a Fortune 500 company (IBM).

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      "Make them free... or the injustice which one half of the human race are obliged to submit to, reporting on their oppressors, the virtue of men will be worm-eaten by the insects whom he keeps under his feet."
            --Mary Wollstonecraft in Vindication of the Rights of Women, 1792.

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