Happy International Women's day to everyone!
I’ve been wanting to write about inspiring women in science for a while now and finally got the chance today.
When I think about women who inspire me, as a SMArtist, Rachel Carson quickly comes to mind. While many science students have probably seen a PowerPoint slide or two about her publication Silent Spring, her story is more than just that.
Rachel Carson was a marine biologist, one of a handful of her classmates that were women. Not only was she a woman in science, her field was overlooked in an era of more chemistry-focused research, and as a poor girl from Pennsylvania, she had the odds stacked against her. Despite this, she got a job for the Bureau of Fisheries (now called U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agency), where her talents in writing were quickly noticed, under the pseudonym R.L. Carson.
It was her background in science and her written eloquence that led her to publish Silent Spring, a book many say launched the environmental movement as we know it. At the time, she wasn’t met with much support; she was an outsider to science, many would argue, not having any affiliation with prestigious schools. Thousands of dollars were put into campaigns to disprove her work and support the growing pesticide industry, but she captured the concerns of the public, and her claims were irrefutable. In this way, her story shows just how powerful science communication – and women in science – can be.
Of course, there are many, many more women in science that we ought to appreciate. But Rachel Carson’s story, to me, perfectly describes the adversity that women – especially poor women – face in the field of science, and how using your talents in arts and working with the public can be powerful. Here's to everything we've accomplished because of women, and the places we can all go together!
(Lear, L. 2002. Introduction In: Carson, R. Silent Spring. First Mariner Books, pp. x-xix.)