Female empowerment should be encouraged in the field of science. Donna Reed and June Cleaver captured the American television audience with their mother goose appeal, also known as the quintessential caregivers: baking cookies, cleaning house and taking care of children in America during the 1950s. Drummond’s advertisement in the 1950’s “men are better than women”, says it all: women are inferior to men. Today, the advertisements during the 1950s are hilarious due to obsolete content, yet gender inequality remains rife.
Gender gaps favouring males are highly prevalent in developing countries today. It is estimated that a mere 30% of women play lead scientific roles in Africa. There are less than 40% of engineers and scientists who are women in South Africa. Sexism remains a threat to society with women forced to retreat to menial tasks of making peanut butter sandwiches, matching linen to wallpaper and preparing dinner at seven with lipstick to boot. Perceptions need to be realigned to suit a better, more advanced frame of society with women being active in the field of science.
How do we remedy society’s psychosis? We eradicate all possible hindrances and threats such as poorly-framed perceptions. Developing countries are in dire need of more female scientists. Scientific development is currently in a state of infancy due to social decline in terms of gender issues.
Dolly the sheep is still considered a remarkable breakthrough for science. Dolly was derived from cells originating from the udder of a Finn Dorset Ewe. Cloning became a controversial topic after Dolly made headlines for being the first cloned mammal. The cloning of humans remained a heated topic which triggered an explosion of fear based on no definite research, but rather a plot of Duncan Jones’s Moon.
However, in 2015, many fascinating ideas were conceived and achieved. It is now possible for both fertile and infertile women to design their own babies and there remains a possibility of contacting extra-terrestrial intelligence.
Women in Science
Marie Curie was a leader and received a Nobel Prize for her research on radiation. Marie, along with her husband, discovered the elements polonium and radium.
In 1963 Valentina Tereshkova piloted Vostok and became the first woman in space. She collected data on how the female body reacted to flight in space.
Rosalind Franklin told the tale of DNA. At the mere age of 15, she decided she would branch into the field of science. She dedicated two years of her life trying to solve the DNA structure and was eventually successful. Her work is of great importance and very relevant today.
The astronomer, Helen Sawyer Hogg is known for her research on stars in globular clusters. She has motivated women to pursue science as a career and is known for her humility and enthusiasm. Hogg is famous for her astronomy column which ran from 1951 to 1981 in the Toronto Star.
Roger Arliner Young received her doctorate in zoology and was the first African-American woman to do so. She juggled research, teaching, as well as caring for her invalid mother. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, she overcame the odds and persevered.
May Edward Chinn’s pivotal cancer research led to the development of a test for early detection of cervical cancer, the Pap smear. Her mother’s emphasis on education was a precursor to her success.
In order to change some primitive perceptions that still exist despite scientific breakthroughs, we need to review the way in which we think. What drives humans to think the way we do? A study conducted by a psychologist named Solomon Asch (mentioned in the bestselling novel, Quiet by Susan Cain) revealed daunting evidence of herd mentality. Asch conducted experiments on the dangers of group influence that leads to conformity. The results were dismal, 75% of the participants went along with the group’s wrong answer.
The main theme in Ken Kesey’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, is fear of the unknown. Common cuckoos, known to be solitary, deceptive birds, lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. The novel, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest focuses on the lives of mental patients whom are unable to retreat from their shells. The characters remain in the mental institution even though it is later revealed by the likeable character, Randle McMurphy, that they are free to leave at any time. The novel ends with the protagonist, Chief, escaping the mental institution that is perceived as the cuckoo’s nest, a society based on deception, guilt, psychological manipulation, violence and hierarchy. Are we prisoners of society’s perceptions?
The fact is science does not solely belong to men or women. Research and conclusive findings belong to humanity that ultimately contributes to the modification and advancement of our species. We should not hesitate to resolve gender issues as obsession with such paltry matters hinders our ability to evolve. Gender and racial issues were prevalent during the 1950s to the 1990s and is still present today but meticulously swept under the carpet. When does one have time to grow and advance when matters of pettiness are still rife?
By: Sasheera Gounden
Interested in finding out more about women in Science? Send us your questions and we will reply to you!