When thinking about science, up until now it has been predominantly ruled by men: nevertheless, women have greatly contributed to scientific discoveries and advancements in many science fields from the earliest times. Known women scientists are responsible for literally changing the paths of science in fields like biology, medicine, chemistry, astronomy, matemathics and research.
For example, Trotula of Salerno is considered to be the first gynecologist ever to have existed and she dates back to the 11th century. What about Marie Curie? A pioneer in the field of radioactivity and the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in 1903 and 1911. Or even Hypatia, a mathematician and astronomer who made her way in Ancient Rome and Egypt by inventing several scientific instruments, however, not to completely defeat the idea that men ruled the world in every aspect of it, Hypatia was murdered and her writings destroyed because of her advanced teachings.
The list of women active in science since ancient times goes on and on, but on this day it is not about listing all these prominent historical figures as much as pointing out that women have been core to science for centuries. On the contrary, the problem lies in their recognition and lack of popularization unlike their fellow scientists men.
However, the role of women in society has changed. So has the number of women encouraged to follow their scientific vocation and prove their worth by getting recognised and promoted for their highly valuable achievements.
In fact, since 1966, the number of women graduating in science and engineering in the US has been increasing exponentially. In 2001, the number of women graduating in the aforementioned fields reached 41%. In the UK; in 2004, women were enrolled in over half the places in science higher education courses. Also, according to the latest research there are far more women participating to educational programs in forensic science than men, a total of 78% (sources). Other high participation fields for women in science are:
If these number point towards an amazing rise of pink-coloured graduates, employees and academia in science, the declaration of truce between women and men in science is yet to come. Just look at the tables below to see that men still rule and earn more in science to some degree:
A renowned researcher and InTech’s author, Dr. Ewa Kleczyk – head of the advanced analytics team at a pharmaceutical market research firm and member of the American Women Business Association, has been actively involved in promoting women in science for years now. When asked what is her perception of women in science today, Ewa stated the following to us, ” Women play a significant role in all areas in today’s world, including business, politics, academics, and sciences. It is very encouraging for many young women to know that they can be whoever they would like to be in their professional lives, as long as they work hard and are committed to their goals.
However, I think, we, the professional women, should continue mentoring and encouraging girls and young women to study mathematics, sciences, and economics, as the work is not done yet. In today’s world being a super model, reality star, and actress seems more interesting and appealing to many young women, due to greater public exposure and high financial rewards.
I think creating sponsorship/mentorship programs at educational institutions could help to promote women in sciences and business. In addition, the financial support many women receive to pursue education in these areas should continue to be distributed. The more support women get, the more likely they to follow their dreams, and become part of the scientific, political, and business cultures.”
Finally, the author of this post, even if female, had not in mind to profess and promote feminist actions in science as much as raise awareness on the current state of gender division within the scientific community, much of it certainly related to difficulties in accessing higher education due to economical disadvantages, or in consequence of less attention given to certain scientific fields traditionally ruled by women. However, the future seems to be getting quite rosy, and so is science.
Houck, M.M. “Is forensic science a gateway for women in science?” Forensic Science Policy and Management, 1:65-69, 2009