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In this International Year of the Periodic Table, we suggest that three unsung women — Yvette Cauchois, Berta Karlik and Traude Bernert — should also be celebrated (see B. Van Tiggelen and A. Lykknes Nature 565, 559–561; 2019). They all contributed to the discovery of the halogen astatine (At), one of the rarest elements in Earth’s crust.