Dr. Breitenberger Reflection

I always knew that women were underrepresented in science, but I also noticed another trend after listening to Dr. Breitenberger’s lecture. If a woman is remembered for her accomplishments, some kind of affair or bad personality often follows. It is as if people back then thought, “if she is to be remembered, then we must also account for her stubbornness or her affairs”. I have seen male scientists’ personal lives also brought into the conversation, but it is with every single woman I’ve heard of that her genius has to be explained with a negative trait. It’s just something I noticed and hopefully I am wrong.

One thought on “Dr. Breitenberger Reflection

  1. I don’t think you are wrong about the double standard. It would be interesting to know the origin of the double standard in specific cases. Is it, for example partly the case that maverick personalities like Marie Curie, for example, buck trends both professionally and personally? In this case, its interesting to note that she seemed to live a pretty “normal” domestic life with her husband. It was after his death only that she had the more scandalous developments in her personal life. Or is the double standard more often just due to good old fashion sexism. For example, in the case of Rosalind Franklin, the dominant view of her for a long time was of her prickly personality. However, this view really just came from one man (James Watson in his book The Double Helix). It s been established since the time of the discovery of DNA that Watson is both a misogynist and a racist. Franklin’s sister’s writings, some of which I have referenced on our Carmen page tell a very different story. She said Rosy was very friendly and personable, along with being a quite extraordinary scientist. In this case, I would tend to believe that the dominant image of her was propagated by sexism and it was largely unchallenged because of her early death. Maybe, as you suggest in your post, its just an inability of a mostly male profession to keep females from gaining credentials on their merit.

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