The First Lady of Physics

The First Lady of Physics

Written on 05/06/2022

Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu, often referred to as the “First Lady of Physics” was a renowned physicist who made important contributions to the Manhattan Project and performed groundbreaking experiments in the field of physics that disproved the Law of Conservation of Parity.

In 1956 two of Wu’s male colleagues, Tsung Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang asked for her help in designing experiments to test their theory that the Law of Conservation of Parity did not hold true during beta decay. Wu’s experiments proved Lee and Yang’s theory and helped them earn the 1957 Nobel Prize in Physics, however, she was not acknowledged or credited for her contributions simply because she was a woman. Throughout her career Wu struggled for gender equality, correcting people who called her by her husband’s name and fighting for equal pay.

Despite the sexism she faced, Wu continued to have a successful career. She became the first woman to serve as president of the American Physical Society and won several awards and honors throughout her lifetime including the National Medal of Science and the Comstock Prize.

"There is only one thing worse than coming home from the lab to a sink full of dirty dishes, and that is not going to the lab at all!"

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