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Women Leaders in Math and Science: Happy International Women's Day!

Updated: Mar 9, 2023


Women have not always been in the photo when it comes to acknowledging contributions in math and science. Marie Currie wouldn't have been named had her husband not insisted it was her work that led to their half of the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics. She went on to receive a second Nobel Prize, this time in Chemistry, in 1911 for her work with radioactivity. She was also the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne.


So what would have happened had Pierre not insisted his wife be acknowledged? Would she have joined the masses of women who remain in the shadows?


I'd like to take a moment to share some information about a few women who have broken the mold throughout history. They smashed the glass ceiling and broke the role rules.

And the list goes on and on . And, don't think this sort of thing doesn't continue to go on today. I used to be a huge fan of the Le Tour de France and then I read Stand. I brought the author in to speak with my bike club, and, you know, the way those women were treated is really unreal. I think about how it takes place around 2019 and not 53 years after Katherine Switzer (and tens of thousands of other women following) have proven that your ovaries don't fall out when you run 26.2 miles; they don't fall out when your ride a bike through the alps for three weeks either. And it would be funny if it weren't the kind of thing the leadership was saying.


Do I believe the men actually believe this? No, not really. I think it goes beyond that. The heart of the matter is they need a reason to dominate the power play in the arena even if that means they are going to create a mythology around why women should not participate. I have always believed that it is due to the idea that women's participation in all things challenges men's vulnerability. For example, if a woman is in a field of battle, a man might be confused as opposed to focused on whom he should protect. (Honorable, yes, but at what cost.) If a woman is in the peloton at the TdF, the men might get distracted. (That doesn't sound like the woman's problem.) A woman *can't* run a marathon. (Well, she proved she can.)


This goes hand in hand with that is the idea of courtesy and deservedness. It is deserved always. Should a woman hold a door open for a man? Sure, why not. Should a man *not* hold a door open for a women to prove she's capable? If she knows she's capable, then it boils down to simply being courteous, kind, polite, honest and forthright. If you're not holding the door open because of women's rights, you've gotten the message all wrong. To me, we're stronger together.


With Kindness.

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