2010 saw the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive pill. At Chemistry World we marked the occasion with an article in our September issue which looked at the history of the discovery.
This article inspired me to select Carl Djerassi as my hero. Now emeritus professor of chemistry at Stanford University, US, and accomplished novelist and playwright, he is best known for his contribution to the development of the first oral contraceptive pill. Obviously, from a scientific point of view his work is very well known and at the time became a major breakthrough; however, my choice is based on the fact that his invention changed the very fabric of society and affects to this day the life of many women around the world.
Indeed, the use of the contraceptive pill spread very rapidly soon after its discovery generating an enormous social impact as it gave women an unprecedented control over their own fertility. It gave them choice and the choice to take the pill was (and still is) a private one. In the western world it rapidly became the most popular birth control technology as the ability to control their own fertility allowed women to make long term educational and career plans. Nowadays more than 100 million women worldwide use the contraceptive pill and thus, it can be claimed that ‘the pill’ as it is commonly known was a key player in building women’s current economic role in society.
Bibiana Campos Seijo
We’d love to hear about your heroes!