Thursday, June 2, 2005

See, here is an example of how strangely my brain works: As I was reading about Linda Buck's fascinating olfactory studies, , all I could think about was why so few women have gotten the Nobel Prize. In anything. But especially in science. A hundred years ago this Monday, Marie Curie had to sit in the audience while her husband gave the Nobel lecture. Since then, only three other women have been awarded the Nobel Prize in physics or in chemistry, and none since 1964. Nineteen-sixty-four! In addition to Dr. Buck, only six women have been awarded the Prize in physiology or medicine, the last one of those ten years ago. It is only in literature and peace that women receive moderate recognition, ten and twleve of them, respectively. Now how am I supposed to explain to my daughter, when the time comes, that these women are not the exception? That any woman is just as capable as any man? That Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin were not strange crackpots, an exception to some transparent gender rule, but brilliant scientists? So brilliant, indeed, that they even overcame this species' bias against strong, thinking women. I guess I will just have to rely on her trusting me, and not the rest of society, screaming at her that despite everything, she is somehow not quite as good.