(Exhibition text in English, referring to a QR code in the exhibition)

Woman Nominated for the Nobel Prize 49 times!

Name: Lise (Elise) Meitner
Born: 1878 in Vienna, Austria
Died: 1968 in Cambridge, U.K.

Nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics 30 times and in Chemistry 19 times between 1924 and 1967.

Earns her PhD in Physics from the University of Vienna in 1907. Moves to the University of Berlin, where she has to apply for special permission to attend lectures because she is a woman. Against all odds, Meitner secures a research position with the chemist Otto Hahn, on the condition that she works in the basement and refrains from using the toilet in the building. The professor does not tolerate women, except for the maids. In 1923, Lise Meitner discovers the Auger Effect. However, it is named after Pierre Victor Auger, who discovers the same effect two years after Meitner.

Due to her Jewish background, Lise Meitner flees Germany in 1938. She settles in Stockholm, where she continues her research collaboration with Otto Hahn. They correspond frequently and she helps him work out the results of an experiment he does not understand. She is the first ever person to formulate a theory for nuclear fission. During the latter part of her life, Lise Meitner receives various awards, but the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the theory for nuclear fission is awarded to Hahn alone in 1944.

Single Mother Pioneer in Insulin Treatment

Name: Andrea Andreen, married 1. Svedberg, married 2. Wohlin
Born: 1888 in Örby, Västergötland
Died: 1972 in Stockholm

Pioneer in the treatment of diabetes. Deeply involved in socio-political issues, sexual education and the peace movement.

The same year that Andrea Andreen receives her bachelor’s degree in Medical Science, she also marries her former chemistry teacher. He disapproves of her medical studies, and instead of continuing her education, Andreen starts assisting her husband in his laboratory. After the birth of the couple’s second child, she divorces her husband and resumes her medical studies.

As a doctor, Andrea Andreen specialises in diabetes research. She travels to the U.S. in the 1920s, where she comes into contact with insulin, which had just been discovered in 1921. Back in Sweden, she develops a treatment method that combines insulin injections with dietary restrictions. After completing her PhD, Andrea Andreen decides to stop her research. Instead, she practices medicine and dedicates herself to sexual education, the peace movement and socio-political issues.

Can’t Make a Living – Forced to End Her Research

Name: Frida Palmér
Born: 1905 in Blentarp, Skåne
Died: 1966 in Halmstad

The first woman in Sweden to earn a PhD in Astronomy. Forced to end her research career for financial reasons.

Well into the 20th century, the natural sciences are dominated by men. Astronomy is no exception. In 1907, female assistants are employed at the Lund Observatory, but none of them conduct their own research.

Frida Palmér begins her studies in astronomy, physics and mathematics at Lund University in 1925, and four years later she is hired as a teaching assistant at the Lund Observatory. In order to support herself and continue her research, she must depend on grants and part-time jobs.

Palmér’s astronomy career ends in 1945. She can no longer support herself and continue her research. Instead, she starts teaching physics and maths at a secondary school – a job she never enjoys.

Future Professor Hides Pregnancy

When Nanna Svartz becomes a doctor of medicine and associate professor at Karolinska Institutet in 1927, the new Eligibility Act, which gives women the right to public sector and Civil Service employment, has been in force for two years. Professions within the clergy and armed forces are exempted.

The environment at Karolinska Institutet is distinctly patriarchal. When Nanna Svartz falls pregnant in 1929, she conceals the pregnancy until after the delivery. In 1937, she becomes the first female professor in Sweden who is employed in the Civil Service. As a researcher, Nanna Svartz is very productive. She publishes 400 scientific articles and books between 1913 and 1981. She also develops the drug Salazopyrin, which is still used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Will Save the Lives of Roughly 200 Million People

When scientist Alexander Fleming goes on holiday in 1928, he leaves Petri dishes containing Staphylococcus bacteria in his laboratory. Back at work, he discovers mould in a dish where the lid has slipped off. The bacteria closest to the mould are dead. Spores from the mould penicillium notatum have killed the bacteria.

The penicillin Fleming produces is weak and has no effect on patients. His discovery is forgotten for ten years until Dr Ernst Boris Chain reads Fleming’s article about it. Howard Florey later invents the technology to mass produce antibiotics, and together with Fleming, Florey and Chain are awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1945. Antibiotics save millions of lives every year.

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