For all the famous feminists you can name I bet you can’t name more than 2 famous female scientists

The BBC had this story up recently which I have mixed feelings about.

It mentions a survey that highlights the clear lack of public awareness/general knowledge there is regarding important women in science. Would be interesting to see comparative data for general public knowledge of male scientists beyond ‘Einstien’. Or better yet ask people to name a theory or explain why those male scientists are famous.

I think a lot of the ignorance isn’t because these scientists are women necessarily, more likely that our knowledge of science, contemporary or otherwise comes from school and is built upon in further education and through popular culture. As such the theories and people behind them that we hear most about, happen to be those that have been put forward by men. I mean they have had a several 100 years head start on us ladies so it’s not surprising really!

The only way this perception of ‘important women in science’ would be likely to change is if it’s a team of wonder women at CERN who discover the Higgs, or a group of girls who find a cure for cancer, or an individual lady finally finds something concrete and indisputable about cognitive function in the non primate brain!

However, with a still heavily biased population of male scientists I think it is unlikely that these major breakthroughs will be down to one women or a group of only women!

I also don’t think it matters what the sex of an individual is if what they do and discover leads to a change our world or a change in our perception of our world in some way.

Why are we still so hung up on equality between the sexes in areas where it seems illogical and really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things?



Filed under Sciencey

8 responses to “For all the famous feminists you can name I bet you can’t name more than 2 famous female scientists

  1. Marie Curie
    Rosalind Franklin
    Dorothy Hodgkin
    Ada Lovelace
    The sarky one from The Big Bang Theory

  2. Hahaha! Well done. Hope that was without the help of Mr Google.. 😉
    I guess the point was that the general population would probably know more feminists or male scientists than they would know of female scientists, mostly cause there are just ‘more’ of them.
    I liked that though!

  3. Do mathematicians count? How about computer scientists?

    Marie Curie, Susan Greenfield, Jane Goodall, Sonya Kovalevskaya, Sophie Germain, Emmy Noether, Ada Lovelace, Barbara Liskov, er…

  4. Caroline

    Curie, Franklin & I thought of Florence Nightingale too.

    Not sure if she counts as a scientist, but she did some great work with statistics.

    She wa certainly more than ‘just’ a nurse.

  5. Jim L.

    Barbara McClintock

  6. I go Curie and Lovelace – and was then embarassed to not be able to think about any more…

  7. I immediately came up with Marie Curie (of course), Emmy Noether (because I was once told her work is immensely important, and it is), Lisa Randall, June Matthews, and Millie Dresselhaus…. And then I stopped, because I realize that as an MIT-educated physicist, I know a great many top-notch female scientists who many people have never heard of….


  8. jiten

    I could name 3 : Marie Curie, Jocelyn Bell, and Hedy Lamarr (yes the movie actress!).

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