As a society, we need to learn about and celebrate a diverse population of important female innovators. “When we do, girls will gain Grace Hopper, who was one of the most important—and colorful—computer scientists in history; Marie Tharp, who mapped the ocean floor and saw evidence of continental drift years before her partner or others in the scientific community accepted the idea; Virginia Apgar, whose scoring system for newborns has saved countless babies' lives; and Inge Lehmann, who discovered Earth's inner core,” they said. Sexism, however, has been evident in professional scientific fields which prevented prominent women from being recognized or credited with achievements.
Sexism in the sciences
One of the most astonishing oversights was recognition of Rosalind Franklin a British biophysicist who studied DNA and contributed to the work done by Crick and Watson both of whom went on to receive the Nobel Prize. Franklin died four years before they were awarded the prize, and it’s never given posthumously. But even if she had lived, her achievements would have been overlooked because she was female, according to report on sexism by National Geographic.
Ruth Lewin Sime, a retired chemistry professor at Sacramento City College who has written on women in science noted that female researchers throughout the centuries have had to work as "volunteer" faculty members, seen credit for significant discoveries they've made assigned to male colleagues, and been written out of textbooks, they said in the report.
In addition, women typically had limited resources and fought uphill battles to achieve, only "to have the credit attributed to their husbands or male colleagues," said Anne Lincoln, a sociologist at Southern Methodist University in Texas, who studies biases against women in the sciences.
Some women scientists believe that attitudes have changed, said Laura Hoopes at Pomona College in California, who has written extensively on women in the sciences—"until it hits them in the face." Bias against female scientists is less overt, but it has not gone away.
Attributing status and well-earned recognition to women in the many fields of science for their accomplishments will encourage girls even in elementary school that they can not only be high achievers in science, but also attain prominence in professions as well academia.
Universities and colleges must weed out those who choose to stigmatize women and girls as lesser human beings than men. Women and minorities have had to struggle for property rights, equal protection under the law, voting rights and social justice in the last few hundred years. The fight will not be over until young girls visualize themselves as scientists and engineers, and women are recognized for their achievements on an equal plane with men and rewarded commensurate with their abilities.
Even more than changes at high levels of education, children’s books and television shows need to portray girls who excel in sports, scientific inquiry, and young entrepreneurs in addition to the traditional roles. Females are over half of the population, and every girl and woman should have the opportunity to an advanced education in the sciences and a rewarding career without struggling to overcome bias and misogyny.
is retired and lives in Clearlake, California. She has three grown
children and one grandson and a Bachelor’s degree in Health Services
Administration from St. Mary’s College in Moraga California. On the
home front Dava enjoys time with her family, reading, gardening, cooking
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