In saying that, just less than half were able to name a famous male scientist either.
A spokesperson for the Royal Society described the results as "frustrating".
The results come despite scientists being viewed as good role models, according to the same poll by the Society.
Plant sciences expert Professor Lorna Casselton FRS, Foreign Secretary and Vice-President of the Royal Society, said:
“The situation for women in science has changed hugely since I was a young woman struggling to persuade the Science Research Council to give me a postdoctoral grant and to take me seriously as a scientist. Today, the numbers of women reaching the top in science is increasing all the time.
“While it is frustrating many people are still unaware of the contribution made by women to science in the past, overall I am encouraged by the findings of this poll. They suggest public perceptions to women in science are changing. The Royal Society wants to encourage more girls (and their parents) to see science as an achievable and desirable career path. We want to show them that women can reach the top and experience the thrill of being the first person to make a scientific breakthrough. Most importantly we want to encourage them to see science not only as a fulfilling career but one that can change the world and contribute to our quality of life.”
A list of the most influential British women in science is here.
It would be useful to compile a list of influential Irish women in science, past or present. Add your nominations as a comment below or send them to firstname.lastname@example.org