Take Back the Bunsen Burners!

Mon, October 02, 2006

The mediasphere has been boiling over with news about women in science lately. I guess it’s been close to a year since Harvard Prez Lawrence Summers lodged his foot in his mouth by saying, basically, ‘girls are bad at math!’—so maybe some real info on the issue is shaking down and entering the zeitgeist.

A couple weeks ago, the first Iranian woman, an American telecommunications entrepreneur, went into space, becoming one of the first few space tourists ever to put on the big suit. (She got her hand slapped for trying to wear both USA and Iranian patches on her space suit. Didn’t anyone tell her her homeland was part of the Axis of Evil?). According to one article a woman in Iran watched her streak through the sky and said with pride: “She will shine in Iranian history as a woman who broke barriers and succeeded in conquering space with her endeavor.” (And courageous role models are more important than ever these days as Iran’s new conservative prez is trying to roll back the reforms of his predecessor Khatami.)

Newsweek also spilled some ink about ladies in lab coats, as did the New York Times. The nutgrab? New studies say there is a Science Glass ceiling—in hiring practices, research, university settings, and the private sector. Half the population continues to be excluded because of good old fashioned sexism as well as
“inadequate child care, a rigid tenure clock that penalizes mothers who take off time after childbirth and a less-than-welcoming attitude among colleagues and administrators.”

And I appreciated the transcendent declaration in Newsweek by Janna Levin that she doesn’t ever want to talk about being a ‘woman scientist’ again. It’s boring. What is interesting to her? “The origin of the universe, the shape of space-time and the nature of black holes.”

As the last month’s news reiterates, there’s work to be done. At HQ we’re planning to leverage the media and develop a Science Divas series. It will share the spirit and global perspective of our original PBS series, but will be lousy with brainy girl geeks, hard science, erupting volcanoes, powerful role models, environmental divas, space ships and… and… and pink Bunsen burners??

by Holly | Comments | posted in:

fuel the discussion — post your comments »

Great post!  I love reading what you have to say. 


by Lucia on Mon, October 02, 2006 at 8:57 pm PDT

bravo!  women’s brains are a vast and largely untapped resource. personally, I think that if a real movement existed to solve the childcare dilemma so many women face, our country could maintain it’s leadership in information technology, science, etc.—which is rapidly slipping just behind manufacturing. so let’s get after it.  don’t let up.

by deb dimick on Wed, October 04, 2006 at 8:37 am PDT

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