25 November 2011


It's not news for for generations, men have held sway over women in the arts and sciences, in politics and the military, and in hiring and recompense in the job market. This has nothing to do with the respective skills or aptitudes of the genders, and everything to do with entrenched anachronistic traditions rooted in our distant hunter-gather past (according to one theory).

Since the first wave of feminism in the 1920s, and especially since feminism's second wave in the 1960s, things have begun to change ~ at a glacial pace to be sure, but even that pace of change is accelerating. Women's numbers are growing among world and national leaders, there are more women CEOs than ever before, and more women are making their presence felt in scientific research, in adademia, and in literature and the arts. We're a long way from real parity, and women still have to put up with harassment and patriarchal dismissal of their views. But with persistence and dignity and sometimes with justified confrontation, women are being heard and taken seriously. In my Google+ "Science and Technology" and "Writing" circles, most members are of the female persuasion. I look for articulate intelligence, originality of thought, and curiosity above all else. I also follow Carin Bondar, Sheril Kirshenbaum, A.V. Flox, Christie Wilcox, Allie Wilkinson, and Liz Neeley (among others) for ideas to feed my own. There's a definite place for social media in science !

In celebration, I offer links to several fora in which women have the floor. The first forum, Watch a Bunch of Lady Scientists Discuss Evolution, includes one of my favorite science writers, Andrea Kuszewski. The second forum, a podcast called Sexism, Skepticism, and Civility Online, includes another of my favorite science writers, Jennifer Ouellette. And the third forum, only partly for grins, asks the penetrating question How Come The Worst Sex Writers Are Always Men? Yeah, why is that?

Don't get me wrong ~ my attention is as struck by a hot babe as the next man's. But brains and humor and courage are a much more substantial part of what I find attractive in women I admire.

Speaking of brilliant women thinkers, one of the most penetrating intellects of this or any other age passed from our midst this week. Lynn Margulis (see image above) was a giant in evolutionary biology and in interdisciplinary thinking. I had the privilege of hearing her lecture at the University of Arizona during my undergraduate days in the mid-1980s. Though her ideas were complex, she expressed them in terms accessible to all. She will be missed. Please click on her name link to view her accomplishments, as well as several video interviews. I believe that your own view of life may be altered by the experience.

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