I just finished off one big chunk of grading, and on this exam, as is my custom, I give students a few bonus points with an easy question at the end. It is also my custom every year to have one of those easy questions be, “Name a scientist, any scientist, who also happens to be a woman,” just to see if they’ve been paying attention.
About 10% of the class leave it blank. C’mon, it’s a free 2 points on a 100 point exam! Over half the time, I get the same mysterious answer: Marie Curie. We do not talk about Marie Curie in this class at all, and it’s always a bit strange that they have to cast their minds back over a century to come up with a woman scientist. Next year, I should change the question to “Name a scientist, any scientist, who also happens to be a woman, and isn’t named Marie Curie,” just to screw with their heads. They won’t be able to think of anyone but Marie Curie.
Second runner up is Jane Goodall. Again, we don’t talk about her, but I guess she is well known.
The one new answer this time around, though, and the one that made me laugh, was this: “Louise Pasteur.” Ah, the plight of the woman scientist…now students have to reach back into the 19th century and give a man a sex change in order to think of one.
Made me laugh. Didn’t get the student any points, though. I am so harsh.
OK, your turn: can you name ten female scientists off the top of your head?