Monday's conversation focused on ways in which institutional sexism keeps women in the sciences down or out. It got me to wondering whether those barriers also tended to keep the stories of women scientists out of public view.
I tried to think of famous women scientists. After two or three, I was stumped. So I spent a little time on the Web, refreshing myself on the names I knew and learning about some I didn't. Among them:
Rachel Carson (marine biologist)
Carson was already a well-known scientist and writer when she made history with her book "Silent Spring," which alerted popular audiences to the danger of pesticides. (Local writer William Souder's recent book, "On a Farther Shore," chronicles Carson's impact and the controversy that surrounded her.)
Marie Curie (physicist and chemist)
Curie's early work in radioactivity made her the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, in physics, and she later went on to earn another in chemistry. Among her accomplishments are the discoveries of radium and polonium and the development of X-ray technology.
Rosalind Franklin (biophysicist)
Franklin deserves at least partial credit for the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. James Watson, one of the acknowledged discoverers, reportedly made his conclusions after gaining insight from a photograph Franklin had taken.
Jane Goodall (primatologist and anthropologist)
Goodall built her career as a researcher studying wild chimpanzees into worldwide fame as a lecturer and conservationist. Her Jane Goodall Institute works to protect apes and to increase opportunities for humans who live near them.
Helen Sawyer Hogg (astronomer)
Hogg, an astronomy professor and authority on globular star clusters, wrote a popular astronomy column for the Toronto Star for 30 years. She also appeared as host of a Canadian TV show and wrote a popular book, "The Stars Belong to Everyone."
Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (computer scientist)
Hopper was a pioneer in computer development as well as a rear admiral in the Navy. She co-invented COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) and helped the Navy develop and adapt computers for its use. She may have also invented the term "bug" for a computer error.
Margaret Mead (cultural anthropologist)
Mead established the field of anthropology in the American mind, chiefly through her books "Coming of Age in Samoa" and "Growing Up in New Guinea." She argued that gender roles were determined by culture, and that civilized societies could learn from the example of so-called primitive ones.
Emmy Noether (mathematician)
At first prevented from taking classes because she was a woman, Noether went on to win mathematical fame for her groundbreaking efforts in abstract algebra and physics. She was a popular professor in Germany before World War II but left as the Nazis came to power. She ended her career at Bryn Mawr College in the United States. "Noether's Theorem," "Noetherian rings," and "Noetherian induction" are all named for her.
• You can test your biases here. Log in as a guest and then select "Gender Science IAT." (Harvard)