Times are a changin’: Physics Girl at MIT


Physics Girl: Dianna Cowern.

This is a short post on women in science again, and give Dianna a quick listen in the YT video above where she describes her experience at MIT, where you would think women would really be in the minority overall (they aren’t) and would feel discrimination and harassment if there was any. You may be surprised as I was. Check it out.

I’ve been asking the young women in my classes for a few years now if they feel there are any roadblocks of any kind to their pursuing education and a career in any field traditionally held by men: computer science, physics, chemistry, medicine, even politics. To a woman they reply there are no real roadblocks any more. They may receive the occasional comment (usually from older folks) asking why they would want to go into a given field, but no-one tells them they cant or shoudn’t. That’s the extent of what I have heard and it seems in line with what Physics Girl experienced.

I point out that when I was growing up in the 60’s there were rather limited options for a woman’s career: secretary, teacher, nurse, or housewife for the most part. There were a few who ventured into traditionally male dominated careers back then, but damn few.
As a telling example there was one woman senator at the time, a trend that has persisted up until only recently when we now have 20 female senators for the first time, in 2015. (Which is still 30 short.)
Few women then went for leadership roles either in business or politics. How the world has changed.
And all for the good.

Besides STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) women are going into politics and biological, psychological and medical fields in greater numbers than ever before. Women are awarded almost half of the medical degrees granted in America now although they have yet to achieve gender equality in this traditionally male dominated profession. In veterinary medicine in the US however, the number of women animal doctors has just surpassed men (2009) and females now hold 78% of the student positions in veterinary school.


Times they are a changing indeed!!

Much of the social changes begun in the 60’s be it civil rights, gay rights, women’s rights, even the questioning of religion among a marginalized few back then are all coming to fruition at lightspeed it seems now here in the New Millenium.
It is all part of the New Enlightenment and its a beautiful thing!

More on women in science in later installments.

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  1. Pingback: Women in Science: Carolyn Porco and the Cassini mission to Saturn | Dispatches from the New Enlightenment

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