Sunday, 11 March 2012

Women in Science

As women around the globe celebrate international women's day, I was curious to find out more about the outstanding women in Science we never hear about. I'm here to share my findings with you.

In recognizing women in science, a few names spring to mind straight away. Margret Thatcher, the Oxford physicist turned prime minister. Marie curie, another woman physicist noted for her role in radioactivity. Both Margaret Thatcher and Marie Curie share physics in common but how many lady physicist do we have today. The third and final name that spring to mind for me is Dorothy Hodgkin, the chemist known for her role in deciphering protein crystallography. Again how many woman chemist do we know of today. I was pleased when I saw Dr. Maggie Pocock-Aderin, a black woman space scientist on the BBC breakfast sofa this week. Not many people know of Maggie but she challenged the odds of having an unstable upbringing, attending 13 different schools and being diagnosed as dyslexic to become a renowned woman space physicist and science communicator today. And how many of us know of Ada Lovelace, the founder of scientific computing. Here's a good link featuring some outstanding women in science. 

Indeed I have come to discover that there are achieving women in the STEMs we never hear about and they deserve to be celebrated. But as we celebrate these achievers let not their legacy fade away. We need more women in science to propel the work our predecessors started. We need to encourage more of our young girls not to shy away from the sciences.    
Since 1901 when the Nobel prize was introduced to recognize outstanding achievements, 549 prizes have been awarded to date and of that only 43 have gone to women. Of the 191 awarded in Physics, only two have been awarded to women. Of the 199 awarded in physiology & medicine only 10 went to women and of the 160 in chemistry only 4 have gone to women. Yet Marie curie was the first person to receive two nobel prizes. One for physics and the other for chemistry. 
The shortage of women in STEMs may be the reason for the under representation of women Nobel science prize winners. 
Linda B. Buck, a nobel prize winner in science and physiology said on receiving her awards and I quote "As a woman in science, I sincerely hope that my receiving a Nobel Prize will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams". I share her sentiments today especially for women of ethnic minority. 

It's really not as complicated as it seems but rather  fun, practical and rewarding. 
Here's a list of women awarded Nobel prizes.

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