So today is International Women’s Day. I’m feeling a bit guilty that I haven’t done anything about it because while I know women tend to be more recognised and have more rights than in my grandmother’s day I also know things aren’t perfect.
In all the years I have studied and worked in science I’ve been aware of bias and inequality. At school boys made something jazzy in metalwork, and girls bent coathangers to make a baby’s mobile. I did get to do the same metalwork as the men at university but not everything was equal. I studied physics and as you might expect it was very male dominated. Even the little things seemed against us women; we only had toilets on every other floor while the men could just walk along the corridor whichever level of the building they were on. I learned about many more male scientists than women, and found that sometimes women were just not represented accurately. For example, Rosalind Franklin played a major role in the discovery of the DNA double helix, yet James Watson and Francis Crick were the authors on the published paper and received the Nobel Prize.
I’m hopeful that things will be easier for my daughter; that if she continues to be keen on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) it will be considered much more normal then when I was a girl. And in recognition of IWD I’d like to share some photos to honour some great women, who have inspired and supported me.