Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beatrix Potter and other great women scientists - a poll 

I suppose most of you are familiar with the outstanding scientist Beatrix Potter, who did important work on mycology and established that lichens are a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae. She is one of 21 names put forwards in a poll publicised by New Scientist magazine to name the outstanding woman scientist in history, and you really should go and read about the nominees. And maybe vote, even though you will curse the fact that it is not by STV as the choices are agonising.

The poll is organised by L’Oreal in its Fellowship for women in science programme and by the UKRC (UK Resource Centre for women in science, engineering and technology). UKRC notes that:

Half a million women in the UK are qualified in either science, engineering or technology (SET) - but less than a third work in those sectors, all of which are suffering a severe skills shortage, set to get worse in the coming decades.

This situation is bad for the UK’s productivity and competitiveness. It undermines the UK’s aspirations for fairness and opportunity. It wastes women’s talent and limits their career aspirations, lifetime earnings and economic contribution.

Hear hear.

I am biased as I actually know one of the nominees personally so I will not discuss voting possibilities further.

(yes, yes it is THAT Beatrix Potter. Go to the websites for the story…)

(yes, yes it is THAT L’Oreal and sure they are also doing it for the commercial beauty products publicity too but in this case …)

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Well, since only two of them are still alive, that does narrow down the possibilities a bit!

And I've met one of them myself, though I'm actually voting for Ada Lovelace, even though the write-up on her does not do her justice. She was the world's first programmer, not just a translator, for goodness sake.
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