A World of Wonders Revealed

Empress Theodora Porphyrogenita (980-August 31, 1056) was the youngest daughter of Emperor Constantine VII (960-1028) and Empress Helena of Byzantium. She was “born in purple”, referring to babies born while their parents reigned. Her elder sisters were Eudokia, who became a nun, and Zoe (c. 978-1050), who would become regent or co-emperor to five emperors between 1028 and 1050, while Theodora co-reigned with two emperors and ruled alone for a year.

At sixteen, she was her father’s first choice as a bride for the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III. But he died before they could be married. After that, Theodora lived in the gynaeceum, the women’s quarters in the inner section of an ancient Greek house.

After her uncle Emperor Basil II (976-1025) died without children, her father became Emperor Constantine VIII. But he did not have any sons and wanted Theodora to marry Romanos Argyros, who would succeed him. Theodora defied him, on the grounds that his wife had become a nun so that Romanos could marry into the imperial family and that they were third cousins. Constantine forced Zoe to marry Romanos in 1028.

After Constantine died, Romanos and Zoe ruled until Romanos died in 1034. Zoe remarried and her husband became Emperor Michael IV until he died in 1041 after which, Zoe ruled alone for a short time. In 1042, Zoe and Theodora became co-empresses for two months, with Zoe as the senior empress and Theodora as the junior. The pair curbed selling public offices and focused on administering justice. Zoe replaced incompetent rules with officials who gained their position through merit. Still jealous that her father had favored Theodora, Zoe tried to force Theodora back to the monastery, but the Senate overruled Zoe and demanded that the sisters rule jointly. This lasted for two months. Zoe married for a third time, to Constantine, who became Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos.

Zoe died in 1050 and Constantine IX in 1055, allowing seventy-year-old Theodora to assert her right to rule. She became sole empress. During her short reign, there were no conspiracies and the empire prospered, without plundering or warfare. But her reign was short. In 1056, she died of an intestinal disorder. As she was childless and the last member of her dynasty, she chose her former military finance minister as her successor and he became Emperor Michael VI Bringas. But after she died, conflicts arose between the noble families who wanted the throne, which lasted until Alexios I Komnenos took the throne in 1081, beginning the Komnenian dynasty.

Though many coins were issued for Zoe’s uncle, father, husbands and some for Theodora, there were only a few for her sole reign in 1041 and her co-reign with Theodora in 1042.

The Honorable Mrs. Mary King Ward (April 27, 1827-August 31, 1869), was an Irish astronomer, microscopist, artist, and entrepreneur. She was born in Ballylin in County Offaly, Ireland, the youngest of four children of Reverend Henry and Hariette Lloyd King. Her maternal aunt Alice was the mother of the famous astronomer William, third Earl of Rosse.

As a child, she became interested in insects and when she received a microscope as a teenager, she studied plants and insects. King was also a talented painted and draughter and her illustrations appeared in scientific publications. She also wrote educational children’s books on how to use a microscope and telescope.

She married the Honorable Henry Ward of Castle Ward in northern Ireland. His elder brother was Lord Bangor. The couple had eight children.

Despite her accomplishments, she is best known for how she died. At 42, she returned to Birr for a memorial service for the 3rd Earl of Rosse. While riding a steam carriage which her cousin Charles Parson had built, she fell from the car when it turned sharply. She died instantly. This is said to be Ireland’s first motorcar accident.

An inquest occurred the following day at Birr Castle, where the jury deemed it an accidental death. Mary Ward is the great-grandmother of English actress Lalla Ward, who played Romana on the BBC’s Dr. Who.

“As there are no precedents for women to enter the Imperial University, this is a serious incident that must be discussed thoroughly”

On August 16, 1913, Tōhoku Imperial University (now known as Tōhoku University) became the first Japanese university to admit female students. The university allowed four women to take the entrance examinations at its discretion. The Ministry of Education sent a letter, stating that, “As there are no precedents for women to enter the Imperial University, this is a serious incident that must be discussed thoroughly” and demanded an explanation. The university ignored their demands and accepted three of the four, Chika Kuroda (March 24, 1884–November 8, 1968), Raku Makita, and Ume Tange. They became the first female baccalaureates and spent several years as junior assistants and graduate students. Chika Kuroda and Ume Tange received their degrees in chemistry and Raku Makita in mathematics.

Japanese Women in Science and Engineering: History and Policy Change

Kuroda graduated from the Women’s Department of Saga Normal School and taught for one year before going to the Division of Science at the Women’s Higher Normal School and went on to enroll in a graduate course there. She completed the course two years later and became an assistant professor at Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School (now Ochanomizu University), before continuing her studies at Oxford. After returning to Japan, she became a worked for her mentor Rikoh Majima at Riken as a non-tenured part-time researcher, working with safflower pigments. In 1929, she became the second woman to received a Doctor of Science degree in Japan, the first being Kono Yasui who received hers from Tokyo Imperial University in 1927.

Her research on onion skin pigment contributed to developing Keruchin C, a drug to treat high blood pressure.

Japanese Women in Science and Engineering: History and Policy Change

After graduate school, Tange went to the United States where she received her Ph.D. in agriculture from Johns Hopkins University in 1927. On returning to Japan, she became a professor at her alma mater, Japan Women’s University and worked at Riken under Umetaro Suzuki researching vitamins.

Japanese Women in Science and Engineering: History and Policy Change

Makita also returned to her alma mater Tokyo Women’s Higher Normal School to and joined the faculty. But she resigned her position when she married Heizo Kanayama, a Western-style painting artist.

Tōhoku Imperial University had the highest female enrollment among the imperial university system and women were in the law, liberal arts, and science departments. In 2001, the university established the Gender Equality and Multicultural Conviviality to promote gender equality, and adopted the Tohoku University Declaration for Gender Equality the following year and incorporated the Tohoku University Gender Equality Encouragement Prize, also known as the Sawayanagi Prize, named for the first President of Tohoku University, Seitaro Sawayanagi, who was instrumental in the allowing the first female students to enroll.

In 1999, the Kuroda Chika Prize was established to encourage female researchers in their scientific research and careers. 45 have been awarded over the last 15 years. The prize is awarded by the Aoba Society for the Promotion of Science, a group of mainly Faculty of Science alumni, which honours a female graduates who have produced outstanding achievements during their scientific doctoral studies. This prize is awarded to female students selected from the whole doctoral cohort across the Graduate School of Science and the Graduate School of Life Science at Tohoku University. This prize was founded in 1999 to encourage female researchers in their scientific endeavors and careers, and 45 female students have been awarded over the last 15 years.