Marie Tharp was an American Geologist who changed the way we look at the ocean floor. She didn’t know that she wanted to be a scientist—she was going to attend St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, for literature. However, at that time women weren't allowed to attend, so she ended up attending Ohio University instead. Her father was a soil surveyor, and it was there she ended up following in his footsteps. She enrolled in a petroleum geology program, but after a while she didn't find it fulfilling enough, so she went back to school at Tulsa University. She was able to get her Master's in geology in the 1940s while the American troops were away fighting World War II. This was a rarity for women in her time—from 1920 to 1970 women received less than four percent of doctorates.
It was then that her life took a turn that would change it forever, when she got a job as an assistant to Bruce Heezen at the Lamont Geological Laboratory at Columbia University. The head of the lab, Maurice "Doc" Ewing, had the scientists in his lab go out and study the bottom of the ocean floor, but Tharp wasn't allowed since she was a woman. It was considered bad luck to have women on these expeditions, and Ewing didn’t make anything overly accommodating for women.