Women Can Do Science

You may think I went a tad overboard this month, and I probably did, but I wanted to shine a big light on the issue of gender equity in STEM careers. I am sharing stories about women in science who have had to overcome stereotypes about their gender to pursue careers in science. I am in awe of these women who continued studying and working in spite of all the barriers in their path. Part of the problem besides outright prejudice and discrimination may be that we do not read about these women in the media as often as we read about male scientists. So I mentioned two journalists who decided to analyze and remedy the lack of gender equity in their reporting. And I included what some organizations and companies are doing to bring more women into careers in the sciences. The stories about women in science definitely demonstrate resilience of the human spirit.

Nancy Grace Roman was told women can’t be scientists. It is a good thing she didn’t listen to that opinion. Here is a short video about Dr. Roman’s story in her own words courtesy of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Katrina Jackson.

In the video Dr. Roman states that people are often not interested in how things got started. I think because we don’t read or hear stories about women in science we assume they don’t exist. Ed Yong in his Atlantic article talks about gender imbalance in science reporting. He talks about how he realized he was leaving women scientists out of his reporting and how he made the effort to remedy that. He mentions an example of his own writing in December 2015 about a conference on CRISPER, where he quotes six men and one woman which might indicate a lack of women working in the field. He writes this was:

“…all the more egregious because the CRISPR field is hardly short of excellent, prominent female scientists. Indeed, two of the technique’s pioneers, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna, are women, and both of them spoke at the same conference from which I reported. And yet, if you read my piece, you could be forgiven for thinking that CRISPR was almost entirely the work of men.”-Ed Yong

If we never read about women in science, it is like they do not exist. He mentions his colleague Adrianne LaFrance who did a study with the help of a computer scientist at MIT on the proportion of women scientists she had been including in her articles and found it was much lower compared to men. She says:

“These numbers are distressing, particularly because my beats cover areas where women are already outnumbered by men—robotics, artificial intelligence, archaeology, astronomy, etc. Which means that, by failing to quote or mention very many women, I’m one of the forces actively contributing to a world in which women’s skills and accomplishments are undermined or ignored, and women are excluded.”-Adrienne LaFrance

You might argue that more women scientists do not exist or are less qualified to be quoted. Yong found this was not the case he just needed to look in the right places.

“It is getting increasingly easy to find such people. The journalist Christina Selby, writing at the Open Notebook, compiled a list of tips for diversifying sources. The journalist Mollie Bloudoff-Indelicato created Diverse Sources, a searchable database of underrepresented experts in science. 500 Women Scientists, a nonprofit, created Request a Woman Scientist, a similar (and larger) database. Both can be filtered by country, specialty, and more. Several scientists have compiled lists of women in microbiology, astronomy, physics, evolution, political science, neuroscience, and more. I keep a personal list of women and people of color who work in the beats that I usually cover. And if these all fail, the most basic journalistic method always works: Ask someone. Get people in the field to suggest names.”-Yong

Women in STEM sciences at NASA, web site has profiles and links to resources for girls and boys.

Women at JPL

And you may have heard some buzz about how women don’t belong in Tech or do well in Tech. Here is a bit about that:

GE announced the goal of having 20,000 women in STEM jobs by 2020.

This video is so inspiring, it made me cry. It is about a Pakistani girl who excelled in STEM and wanted to be an engineer:

And TED Talk by Kimberly Bryant founder of Black Girls Code. Ms. Bryant wants to encourage women and girls of color to pursue careers in tech and is helping with her nonprofit:

And what if a female scientist was treated like a superhero?


We Are The World Blogfest, #WATWB, hosted by Belinda Witzenhausen, Emerald Barnes, Eric Lahti, Inderpreet Uppal, Lynn Hallbrooks, Mary Giese, Michelle Wallace, Peter Nena, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Simon Falk, Susan Scott, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein. We Are The World Blogfest is a monthly blog occurring the last Friday of each month dedicated to sharing positive news of the world “stories that show compassion and the resilience of the human spirit. Sharing these stories increases our awareness of hope in our increasingly dark world.”

*Featured Image at top of page: “Mary Van Rensselaer Buell (1893-1969), sitting in lab with microscope, reading paper” from Smithsonian Institute via Flickr. Creator/Photographer: Julian Scott Description: In 1919, Mary Van Rensselaer Buell (1893-1969) became the first woman to earn Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin. She carried on her extensive research on nutrition and physiological chemistry at University of Iowa, Johns Hopkins University, Washington University, and the University of Chicago.

 

We Are the World Blogfest

 

36 thoughts on “Women Can Do Science

  1. BWitzenhausen

    Love this, and no, you didn’t go overboard. When I started high school I was one of the few females enrolled in the tech program and the only one in my year. I always wanted to try something that challenged me and I fought to get in. The biggest challenge was being accepted by both the teachers and my fellow students. It took a while but a I got good grades and held my own and ended up having an amazing experience. In the years that followed more and more females enrolled. I’m so glad to learn that there are programs like STEM out there. Thanks so much for sharing this and for being part of #WATWB!😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I find it upsetting that you had a struggle with acceptance from your teachers and other students but you are a trailblazer and applause to you for taking on the challenge. I am so glad you found good information in my post and if you and other women find encouragement and inspiration from it makes my small effort so worthwhile. Thank you, Belinda. 🙂

      Like

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    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I was inspired by reading and hearing the stories of these remarkable women in science and tech and then coming across the Atlantic post on gender equity just added to it all. I am so encouraged by the efforts of these companies and organizations to do outreach to get women in STEM. So it was my pleasure to report on what I have found. Thank you, Jo Anna. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Pradita Kapahi

    These women and their will to conquer that prejudice are commendable. I’m glad they went ahead even in the face of those prejudices. They are a great example for women who follow them. Glad you shared this with us. Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  3. Michelle Wallace (@mishy1727)

    This is such a fantastic post! I’ll have to return to watch some of the videos.

    As far back as the First Century AD, there were highly respected women: physicians, astronomers, surgeons and mathematicians, in the scientific field. Women were so ahead of their times. In about 1248, Louis IX of France had a female surgeon, Magistra Hersend, traveling with the army, who personally attended to him.
    Even Pythagoras passed on philosophy and mathematics to his daughter who was a well educated woman!
    The many battles women have had to overcome in our history and the wonderful things they have achieved never ceases to amaze! 🙂
    Writer In Transit

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I was inspired by the women in my post and it is great to hear about other women scientists in history. It is important to bring these stories to light because I think many times they have been overlooked and forgotten. Thank you, Michelle. 🙂

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  4. Deborah Weber

    What an inspiring post and definitely not overboard. I’d love to see the diversifying sources information be a mandatory requirement for all. But I celebrate each time we shine a light on and highlight the fact that women are core contributors in all areas of science and math, and keep doing it until no young girl thinks otherwise. Thanks for sharing this collection of goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  5. Emily Bloomquist

    Excellent post, Deborah! Way to highlight an important topic – women are and have been STEM contributors. They do not get the spotlight often and it’s great that you are helping to change that. I worked in IT for many years and the number of women when I left the field was significantly higher than when I began. I need to return to watch the videos you shared.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  6. ericlahti

    Every time I hear about women in STEM, I remember the story of Hedy Lamarr who helped develop a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes in WWII and never really got the credit she deserved. She was brilliant, but all anyone remembers is her looks. Hopefully the tides will continue to turn and women in tech will get more respect.

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
      1. ericlahti

        We’re seeing a slow shift in programming at least. It’s still got a lot more men than women, but in a field that used to be exclusively geeky guys, we’re getting more and more women in the field.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Susan Scott

    I look forward to checking out the videos later Deborah thank you for them. Women are many times better at science and/or cracking codes … history shows us the enormous contribution they’ve made! Power to women 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I did add a lot of videos but they are worthwhile. I know I like to analyze and love mysteries. I recently bought a book about American women code breakers during WWII. Women is science have made many contributions and will continue to do so. Thank you, Susan. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  8. Smorgasbord - Variety is the Spice of Life.

    Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    A wonderful post by Deborah Drucker honouring pioneering women in science who inspire girls to follow in their footsteps. From Dr. Nancy Roman NASA’s first astronomer to a young Pakastani engineer keeping the lights on for millions. Wonderful video which shares her story and inspires us all.. Do head over and celebrate these women of science. #recommended for #IWD #PressforProgress

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. Pingback: FYI March 11, 2018 – Instagatrix

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