A recent ICM survey suggests that 2/3 of the general public are unable to name a single famous female scientist! In fact 90% of 18-24 year olds were at a loss to think of a current or historical female scientific figure…shocking!
Then again only about half could name a famous scientist at all…
Which got me thinking…could I think of any famous female scientists?
British primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist, and UN Messenger of Peace (according to wikipedia). Mostly I just know her as ‘That chimp woman’. Most well known for her work studying chimps at Gombe Stream National Park (Tanzania) she also set up the Jane Goodall Institute to support further research and is an active animal rights activist.
Much overlooked biophysicist, physicist, chemist, biologist and X-ray crystallographer. It was drilled into us at school (an all girls school of course) that Rosalind did much of the work behind that famous discovery by James D. Watson and Francis Crick; discovering the structure of DNA.
Physicist and chemist. Unfortunately most well known for her death of radiation poisoning (well from aplastic anemia presumably brought on by exposure to radiation), her name is given to a charitable organization which provides nursing care for cancer sufferers. But amazingly this woman, a pioneer of radiation study, was awarded 2 Nobel prizes!
And that’s where my (still slightly hungover and over worked) brain kinda ran out… I am a scientist myself, well educated and from (at least at some point in my education) an all girls school, and yet I can only think of 3 off the top of my head. Admittedly I know of other female scientists (I work with quite a few) but I’m not sure I’d say they were famous. Famous in my area of research, famous in certain circles, but famous famous?
So why do I find it easier to remember Darwin, Einstein & Newton than any of their female counterparts? I find it hard to believe that there aren’t potentially famous female scientists out there, so why don’t I know about them?
So I have decided to start a campaign…well I’ve decided to find random female scientists and their work and then share it with you good people so that hopefully next time ICM or whoever else decides to survey maybe someone out there will know of at least 1 famous female scientist.
Oh and maybe I’ll add some interesting male ones as well, it’s no good me being sexist now is it?