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Esther Conwell heard early in her career that women could not be engineers.

Photo of National Medal of Science awardee Esther Conwell for contributions in electronics.

Esther Conwell of the University of Rochester was awarded the National Medal of Science for promoting women in science, and for contributions to understanding electron and whole transport in semiconducting materials that has helped to enable integrated circuits and organic electronic devices. Early in her career, President Obama explained during the awards ceremony, she was hired as an assistant engineer, only to be later told that this position was not open to women and that she must instead serve as an assistant to an engineer. This failed to deter her from making significant contributions to her field, the president noted.

Credit: Ryan K Morris Photography and the National Science & Technology Medals Foundation.

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