Chien-Shiung, the First Lady of Physics, was born on May 31, 1912 and raised in a small fishing town just north of Shanghai, China. In 1934, Chien-Shiung graduated at the top of her class with a degree in physics from the National Central University in Nanking, China. She enrolled at the University of California Berkeley in 1936 and graduated with her PhD in physics in 1940. While at Columbia University, Chein-Shiung worked on the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear bomb, where her research included improving Geiger counters for the detection of radiation and the enrichment of uranium in large quantities.
In 1956, physicists Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang asked Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu to create an experiment to test their theory that the conservation of parity did not apply during beta decay. The experiment, known as the Wu Experiment, is named for her. Yet, in 1957, Lee and Yang were awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. Like the contributions of many women in science at the time, Dr. Chien-Shiung Wu’s work was not acknowledged. In 1964, at a symposium at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she asked her audience “whether the tiny atoms and nuclei, or the mathematical symbols, or the DNA molecules have any preference for either masculine or feminine treatment.”