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Dorothy Hodgkin, who discovered the structure of insulin  (Source: vcharkam)
Survey indicates a majority of the British population cannot name one female scientist

According to a recent poll by ICM, a public opinion researcher from England, two-thirds of British population (who participated in the survey) cannot name even one famous female scientist.

The Royal Society, which is a fellowship of individuals who represent all areas of science, organized this survey. The poll showed that almost half of the participants were able to identify at least one male scientist while two-thirds could not name even one female scientist.

Furthermore, 90 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds could not name a current or historical female scientist. Lorna Casselton, Vice President of the Royal Society, said these results were "frustrating."

The number of those who were aware of female scientific figures in the poll were very low, with 18 percent who identified Dorothy Hodgkin as the creator of the structure of insulin, and only six percent who identified Jocelyn Bell Burnell as the scientist who played a role in the discovery of pulsar stars. 

Other results were that 20 percent of 1,000 adults chose "Nobel prize-winning scientist" as the best role model for their daughters. These adults were given six role model choices to choose from, ranging from doctor to lawyer and pop star to athlete. Almost half chose "life-saving doctor" as their first choice. 

"People are still unaware of the contribution made by women to science in the past, [but] overall I am encouraged by the findings of this poll," said Casselton. "They suggest public perceptions of women in science are changing. [We] want to encourage more girls (and their parents) to see science as an achievable and desirable career path. Most importantly, we want to encourage them to see science not only as a fulfilling career, but one that can change the world and contribute to our quality of life."

In other news, the United States government is encouraging Indian women to enter science and technology-related fields by offering research fellowships and internships that could bring these women to the U.S. With support of the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, the U.S. embassy New Delhi created a one-day workshop about women in science where many young women in high school and above listened to female business leaders encourage them to "stick with science."


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RE: We're superficial
By GreenEnvt on 8/27/2010 10:19:59 AM , Rating: 4
That's the only one I can name of the top of my head too.
Of course, I can't name that many male scientists either..


RE: We're superficial
By MozeeToby on 8/27/2010 11:38:00 AM , Rating: 3
You're not thinking along the right lines I imagine, once you get rolling I bet you could think of at least a dozen historical male scientists (and I admit to Curie being pretty much the only female scientist that I can think of off the top of my head).

Male scientists are easy though... Newton, Kepler, Boyle, Tesla, Franklin, Archimedes, Turing (which by association reminds of Ada Lovelace, so I'm up to two females), Bohr, Oppenheimer, Einstein, Edison, Maxwell, Crick. And that's without cheating and just listing off names of various laws, unites, space missions, or museums. If you did that you could probably come up with another 30 or 40 more given the time.

To be fair, female scientists, especially ones who are actually acknowledged for their work, are a relatively modern phenomenon. Many of the people on my list above are quite historical, from times before female scientists were common or credited with their work.


RE: We're superficial
By corduroygt on 8/27/2010 12:06:18 PM , Rating: 2
Just think of measurement units and constants and you've already got a bunch :)


RE: We're superficial
By Hyperion1400 on 8/27/2010 12:37:15 PM , Rating: 2
You forgot Planck! How could you forget PLANCK! XD


RE: We're superficial
By rudy on 8/27/2010 12:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ya but you do not count because you could name a female.


RE: We're superficial
By menace on 8/27/2010 4:30:46 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah modern science research seems so esoteric and incremental nowadays it's hard to view the achievements as meaningful breakthroughs. The most noticable achievements (e.g. LHC) are result of combined efforts supported by national and international teams. About the only name from my lifetime that sticks is Hawking and if it were not for his physical condition I seriously doubt he would be nearly so universally recognizable by the general public.


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