The Dress (A Redress)

     Remember way back during Nobel Prize season when I ruffled a bunch of feathers over disliking not May-Britt Moser’s Nobel Prize dress, but the fact that I feared it overshadow her achievements due to our focus on women’s clothing and less on their achievement?

     Firstly, I would like to say that if that post was upsetting, I’m sorry. Fashion is great in science and the blending of the two is a decent means of adding science into everyday life (and despite my initial mood, I now gladly follow startorialist!) Just ask me and my obsession with any hexagonal prints or hexagon necklaces. I’ve even purchased fabrics simply because they resemble graphene. The fact that May-Britt Moser’s dress was made by another scientist is fantastic and I have no issue with these individual choices – the choice to make the dress, the choice to design it and the choice to wear at the prize ceremony are all perfectly acceptable and I hope that it helped make an already special day even more special. What I was, and am still, worried about was the response of both the scientific community and the world at large.

     But the fact of the matter is, nobody cares what Edvard Moser is wearing. Ever. To anything. His work will never be overshadowed by the way he dresses and I’d wager, verging on poor hygiene, his manner of dress would not detract from the value of his work either. Scientists, and professors, wear all kinds of absurd outfits provided they are totally good lab safety wise. Trust me, I’ve been lectured to by a man wearing a Led Zeppelin shirt that looked like it was bought in the heyday of Led Zeppelin. Nobody says anything. I’ve seen male professors come into lecture wearing very ill-fitting garb. Nobody says anything and up to this point, I haven’t either…except to illustrate this point.

    When a female process in my department shows up wearing a classic teacher sweater or something overly colorful, people notice. People make commentary. “Her clothes make her look so much older,” is one I remember. But you know what, screw that. If somebody can wear a shirt older than the students, she can wear a fuzzy snowman sweater to work. That’s how I feel but the fact of the matter is the undue attention is paid to women’s clothes over men’s clothing – even in science.

    Today, I was looking up May-Britt Moser for an unrelated reason. Just searching on the trusty Google and I noticed what you see in the 3rd image. You ask Google, “May-Britt Moser?” and it asks you back, “Her dress, her Nobel, her husband, or her biography?” 

    Huh. Weird. The dress is the first suggestion. I wonder if the dress is overshadowing her research? Well, I’d want something to compare it to…somebody with similar credentials and who did similar work at the same period in history but is male….oh wait. She has a collaborator who is her husband. So, you ask Google, “Edvard Moser?” and it asks you back, “His lab? His Nobel? Do you want his CV or his biography?”

     Oh. Wow. Nobody looks up anything about Edvard Moser other than his work.

     Furthermore, when you search for May-Britt, it suggests Edvard as well because that is what Google learned from us. But when you look for Edvard…it doesn’t suggest you learn about May-Britt. Even though they’re usually pictured together and they are collaborators, May-Britt’s work is being overshadowed by her clothing and her spouse.

I was also worried that on Tumblr’s most popular science blogs if her dress would begin to overshadow her work. And Moser lab did some incredible stuff – the morning of the announcement my biology professor pulled up a video of their work and the resulting grid and I was amazed. Check out the fourth image up there (Source).


     This kind of thing is a problem. It is the reason I was less than pleased about learning about this dress though the piece itself is fantastic. We know there is gender bias in science at just about every level and of course, the scientific community and followers of the Nobel Prize continued to do what we keep trying to stop ourselves from doing – letting unimportant details overshadow women in science and undervaluing women’s contributions in comparison to their male colleagues. The dress has become a dreadfully obvious example of this and really shows us how far we have to go.


Alice Zielinski is currently an MIT undergraduate studying aeronautical & astronautical engineering and computer science & electrical engineering. In this article, she tells us that

"Many MIT students recount questions about their GPA, test scores, magnificent things they’ve built, other accomplishments—while I often find myself trying to convince people that I actually attend MIT. The reactions that I’ve received from people range from amusing to borderline offensive, from delightful to ‘what??’"

Just another thing to show to your friends who don’t believe that sexism in STEM is a thing. Especially since she had to write a follow up addressing negative responses.

As a 19-year-old sophomore at Stanford, Elizabeth Holmes decided to transform diagnostic medicine so she dropped out of college and used her tuition money to start her own company, Theranos. Ten years later, Holmes, pictured here holding a micro-vial, is on the cutting edge of medical technology — her new blood testing method allows hundreds of tests to be run using only a few drops of blood. And, Holmes’ methods are cheaper, faster, more accurate, and less invasive than conventional methods which often require a separate vial of blood for every test.

As Holmes told Wired.com earlier this year, “I started this company because I wanted to spend my life changing our health care system. When someone you love gets really sick, most of the time when you find out, it’s too late to be able to do something about it. It’s heartbreaking… We wanted to make actionable health information accessible to people everywhere at the time it matters most. That means two things: being able to detect conditions in time to do something about them and providing access to information that can empower people to improve their lives.”

read more from A Mighty Girl


Are Nasty Comments Like These Keeping Women Out Of Science?

"It’s death by a thousand cuts. Every day you’re faced with some comment, some snide remark, some inability to get a name on a research paper. And with an accumulation of those experiences, women tend to walk with their feet."

Go here to read more infuriating stories about women in science. 


I think that everyone should take a look at these gorgeous drawings representing Women and their accomplishements in Science, by Rachel Ignotofksy - a fantastic illustrator and graphic designer. She also has a lil Etsy shop where she sells her prints here!!!


#YesAllWomen tweets reveal persistent sexism in science By Fiona MacDonald via ScienceAlert. | Image Credit: First three images via ScienceAlert via Twitter, fourth image via Twitter.

Reading through the tweets on the #yesallwomen hashtag is heartbreaking, illuminating and frustrating all at the same time. 

And if you’re a woman, you’ll be nodding along to nine out of 10 of them.

The hashtag started after it was revealed that 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, lead suspect in the Isla Vista shooting, had shared extremely disturbing and misogynistic views in a video posted shortly before the attack.

Instead of flooding the internet with Rodger-specific fury, Twitter took the discussion to the next level and remind the world that sexism is still very much present across society, and #YesAllWomen experience it.

Among those tweets were many honest and confronting admissions of sexism from female scientists, students and communicators.

This isn’t the first time the issue of misogyny in science has been brought up, but it’s always sad and shocking to see certain opinions persist when females have come such a long way in the field.

As ScienceAlert is staffed almost entirely by women, we though we’d add a few of our own:

Because only 44 out of 835 Nobel Prize laureates are women.

Because senior scientists would still rather hire males, and pay them more.

Because people are still shocked when we tell them ScienceAlert is run by women.

Because that last tweet I screenshotted, via Hannah Hart, really hits home for myself and so many women I’ve talked to over the last few days [much less ever] when it comes to pointing out sexism in general, especially within the STEM world. 


Celebrating Women in Science With @rachelignotofsky

For more tributes to female scientists, follow @rachelignotofsky on Instagram.

Growing up, Rachel Ignotofsky (@rachelignotofsky) knew she was going to become either a scientist or an illustrator. The Missouri resident chose art, but now she’s combining her two passions with a series of drawings celebrating groundbreaking and often unheralded women in science.

“I wanted to do my part and celebrate these women and their accomplishments and hopefully get a younger audience familiar with them,” Rachel says. “I think that a good way to fight gender bias is to show young girls and boys strong female role models.”

So far, she’s done seven drawings out of a planned 50, highlighting women such as 19th century paleontologist Mary Anning and pioneering computer scientist Grace Hopper.

“A lot of these women are not very well known, even though their accomplishments have changed our world forever,” she says. “I want my illustrations to help spark an interest in learning more about these women. I want young girls and boys to see that no matter who they are, despite their gender, they can accomplish anything.”

Sometimes called the “Queen” or “First Lady” of physics, Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997) was a Chinese-American nuclear physicist who famously solved the “Tau-Theta Puzzle” that had confounded scientists for years.  At a time when women — particularly women of color — were not readily accepted in the academy, Wu made significant progress for women in science, and was accepted as a researcher at Princeton University before the institution even admitted women.

While Wu’s co-collaborators on the “Tau-Theta Puzzle” were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1957, Wu was not, leading some scientists and historians to believe she was excluded on the basis of gender discrimination. Still, she won a number of other prestigious awards, and was elected the first woman president of the American Physics Society.

An outspoken critic of the gender bias in science and brilliant physicist, Wu is one of the 73 individuals who were added to Oxford’s American National Biography in October.

Image: Chien-shiung Wu by Smithsonian Institution from United States. Public Domain via Flickr.


Six Women Who Changed Science. And The World. Part 2.

Part 1 • Purchase

After reading about gender-bias and conversation dominance in the classroom, I asked for a peer to observe a physics class I was teaching and keep track of the discussion time I was giving to various students along with their race and gender. In this exercise, I knew I was being observed and I was trying to be extra careful to equally represent all students―but I STILL gave a disproportionate amount of discussion time to the white male students in my classroom (controlling for the overall distribution of genders and races in the class). I was shocked. It felt like I was giving a disproportionate amount of time to my white female and non-white students.

Even when I was explicitly trying, I still failed to have the discussion participants fairly represent the population of the students in my classroom.

This is a well-studied phenomena and it’s called listener bias. We are socialized to think women talk more than they actually do. Listener bias results in most people thinking that women are ‘hogging the floor’ even when men are dominating.

—  Stop interrupting me: gender, conversation dominance and listener bias, by Jessica Kirkpatrick from Women In Astronomy

LEGO has announced that they will produce a female scientist minifigure set!

After last year’s release of a single female scientist minifigure by LEGO, designer Alatariel Elensar submitted concepts for a full minifigure set of female scientists to the LEGO Ideas competition. This week, after more than ten thousand people voted for Elensar’s project, LEGO announced that they are putting the set into production for late summer 2014!!

The figures above (still concepts, not the final sets) are doing what female scientists do, devoid of pink, and full of awesome. As Maia Weinstock notes at Scientific American in her rundown of the LEGO project, toy companies have an enormous amount of power to determine what children think, helping them form their ideas about how the world is, and how it should be.

I’m proud of my favorite toy company for doing their part to inspire young minds. Sounds like we’ve got the perfect holiday gift idea, for young girls AND boys :)


Featured image: Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, who first developed the theory explaining the process of nuclear fission.

  1. Marie Curie is the only person to have won Nobel Prizes in two different scientific disciplines. 

    First, Marie Curie won in 1903 for her studies of radioactivity. She shared the prize with her husband Pierre Curie and with the other discoverer of radioactivity, Henri Bequerel. Originally, the Nobel prize committee had only selected Pierre Curie — but he refused to accept it without proper acknowledgement of Marie’s contribution. Then in 1911, Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for her discovery and studies of radium and polonium.

  2. Only two women have ever won the Nobel Prize in physics.

    Maria Goeppert Mayer won the Nobel Prize in 1963 for her model of the structure of the atomic nucleus. Goeppert Mayer faced a great deal of gender bias in her career: she had to work in unpaid positions at Columbia University and University of Chicago, where her husband was employed.

  3. Austrian physicist Lise Meitner first developed the theory explaining the process of nuclear fission.

    However, she was overlooked by the Nobel Committee, who instead awarded Meitner’s colleague Otto Hahn the prize in 1944. Meitner came to be known as the “mother of the atom bomb,” although she refused to work on the Manhattan Project after fleeing Nazi Germany. Element 109 is called meitnerium in her honor.

  4. Albert Einstein called German mathematician Emmy Noether a creative mathematical genius.

    Noether’s Theorem is a fundamental idea on which much of modern physics is built. Published in 1918, her theorem states that if an object has symmetry — i.e., if it looks the same regardless of changing locations or times — then this leads to conservation laws in nature. Says Ghose: “A simple example is a movie of the motion of a ball when you throw it. The motion looks the same if you run the movie backwards in time (time symmetry). This means that the total energy of the ball remains the same (conservation of energy) — the energy just gets converted into different forms as the ball moves. This is a simplified example, but the theorem is widely applicable and is a real workhorse of modern physics.”

  5. British astronomer and astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin established that the sun and other stars are all composed mostly of hydrogen.

    Payne-Gaposchkin later became the first woman to chair a department (astronomy) at Harvard.


Women In Science by meganleestudio // meganlee.etsy.com

• Mary Anning - fossil collector and paleontologist whose discovreies made fundamental changes in scientific thinking about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.

• Ada Lovelace - mathematician considered to be the world’s first computer programmer.

• Marie Curie - pioneer in the field of radioactivity, as well as the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes in both physics and chemistry.

• Lise Meitner - nuclear physicist who was part of the team that discovered nuclear fission.

• Emmy Noether - mathematician known for her groundbreaking contributions to abstract algebra and theoretical physics. 

• Cecelia Payne - astronomer and astrophysicist who discovered that the universe is composed primarily of hydrogen and helium. 

• Barbara McClintock - cytogeneticist best known for her discovery of transposition which she used to demonstrate that genes are responsible for turning physical characteristics on and off. 

• Grace Hopper - computer scientist who developed the COBOL computer programming language. 

• Rachel Carson - marine biologist, conservationist, and author known for advancing the environmental movement. 

• Dorothy Hodgkin - biochemist who advanced the technique of X-ray crystallography, a method used to determine the three-dimensional structures of biomolecules. 

• Hedy Lamarr - both a popular Hollywood actress and an inventor who contributed to an early technique for frequency-hopping spread spectrum communications which paved the way for today’s wireless communications.

• Rosalind Franklin - biophysicist whose work on X-­ray diffraction images of DNA led to her discovery of DNA double helix and her data was used to formulate Crick and Watson’s 1953 hypothesis.

• Esther Lederberg - microbiologist who devised the first successful implementation of replica plating and helped discover and understand the genetic mechanisms of specialized transduction. 

• Jane Goodall - anthropologist and primatologist known for her extraordinary study of the interactions of wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. 

• Jocelyn Bell Burnell - astrophysicist who discovered the first radio pulsars (signals coming from rapidly rotating neutron stars). 

• Mae Jemison - engineer, physician, professor, and former NASA astronaut who became the first African American woman to travel to space.

The Scully Effect

One of the most frustrating aspects of this scarcity is that we know just how significant an influence powerful female, scientist role models can have on young women.

Perhaps the most prominent example of this power has come to be known as the “Scully Effect.” Named for Special Agent Dana Scully, the medical doctor and FBI agent who was one half of the investigative team on “The X-Files”, the Scully Effect accounts for the notable increase in women who pursued careers in science, medicine, and law enforcement as a result of living with Dana Scully over the nine years “The X-Files” ran on Fox.

The show has been off the air for more than a decade. Yet the character of Dana Scully remains a powerful example of how a dynamic female character whose primary pursuit is science—not romantic relationships—can have a lasting impact on our culture.

— by Christopher Zumski Finke (x)


Awesome women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields!


Science Needs Women: 
For Women in Science; the L’Oreal Foundation 

I’m sharing this video on any platform I can because when I first found it last week it had something like 1,400 views, but it’s the most beautifully produced and succinctly narrated video addressing some of the most complicated issues facing women in STE(A)M fields I’ve found yet. 

I’m sharing this for every time I’m called a “feminazi.”

…for every time I’m told that my concerns aren’t valid, our that our issues are imagined.

…for every time I hear “women just don’t like science,” or worse - “women just aren’t good at science.”

…for every time we’re told that we can have a family or a career, but not both - and for every time we feel like we have to decide between the two.

…for every time a study comes out saying as many as 64% of women endure sexual harassment during field work

…for the fact that women earn 41% of PhD’s in STEM fields, but make up only 28% of tenure-track faculty in those fields.

…and because we need more women mentors in these fields to stand up for issues that are not “women’s issues” - these are people issues that affect our collective society as a whole.

The women in this video are my heroes and they should be your heroes, too.


Women of National Geographic

Jane Goodall - studied chimpanzees and has created community-centered conservation programs that not only protect chimpanzees of Gombe National Park in Tanzania, but also take into account the needs of the people crucial to their protection

Hayat Sindi - created low-tech diagnostic tools to aid in the improvement of healthcare in the world’s poorest communities, has a Cambridge University Ph.D. in biotechnology

Kakenya Ntaiya - teacher building the first school for girls in her rural Kenyan village, refuses to accept Maasai woman’s traditionally subservient role, hopes that expanding education and leadership opportunities for girls will also improve life for the entire village

Nalini Nadkarni - uses mountain climbing gear to climb into the rainforest canopies of Costa Rica and researches the threats of global warming

Sarah McNair-Landry - youngest person to ski to the South Pole, sledged to the North Pole, and crossed ~1,400 miles of the Greenland ice cap to draw attention to the dangers of global warming

Dian Fossey - studied endangered gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda, her devotion to their care and protection cost her her life and she was probably murdered by poachers who she fought relentlessly.

I hope that one day I can be added to this list of incredible and inspiring women.

Photographs by Hugo Van Lawick, Kris Krug, Philip Scott Andrews, Michael and Patricia Fogden, John Stetson, Robert I. M. Campbell


The First Lady Astronaut Trainees / Mercury 13

"The men go off and fight the wars and fly the airplanes and come back and help design and build and test them. The fact that women are not in this field is a fact of our social order."

- John Glenn of the Mercury 7, testifying before a House subcommittee in 1962

"The women underwent the identical tests that the male candidates had undergone. In the end, 68% of the women passed with ‘no medical reservations’ compared to 56% of the men. The 13 females who passed were known as the Mercury 13. They were Bernice ‘Bea’ Steadman, Janey Hart, Geraldine ‘Jerri’ Sloan Truhill, Rhea Allison Woltman, Sarah Lee Gorelick Ratley, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich, Myrtle Cagle, Irene Leverton, Gene Nora Jessen, Jean Hixson, Wally Funk and Geraldyn ‘Jerrie’ Cobb…

Cobb had tested in the top 2% of all tested candidates, male and female.”

The Lovelace Woman in Space Program (1960-1962)