As we start a new month, drawing inspiration from this trailblazing group of women scientists, we can apply their advice and thinking to many areas of our own lives and learning. Challenging, trying, being creative and working together are all fed by imagination. Let’s take a lesson on keeping that spark alive.
scientists, no matter their differences, are all ultimately people working together on a problem.
Christina Warinner, researcher and Harvard University professor
Led by Warinner and the “debt of gratitude” she feels she ows to “trailblazing” scientists like her great aunt, chemist Elsie Kokes, this piece from Science magazine interviews a group of female scientists about where they see themselves as scientists.
There is an overwhelming sense of challenge. It’s about doing – especially when someone tells you not to, or that you can’t. Many were fighting against what was handed to them as the traditional ‘choices’ for their gender.
This extends to overcoming preconceptions and prejudices to become world leaders in groundbreaking and society-changing research.
The interviewees recognise the positivity in how, as with scientific discovery itself, things have changed and still are at a rapid pace. Nancy Moran, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Texas, Austin, says people would be “surprised at how bad it was”.
On this so-called imposter syndrome, Penny Chisholm, a biologist in the civil engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology advises “recognising it and putting it away”. It’s another barrier to overcome and challenge.
Driving the scientsts interviewed is a sense that they never thought of themselves as anything else, even if others didn’t agree.
They talk about creative freedom. It’s the ultimate blank canvas to have an idea and try it – to see what happens.
Far from the lonely, ‘mad scientist’, it’s a profession and vocation of collaboration and teamwork.