Where are the Women?


Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze Lavoisier (1758-1836) was the wife of  scientist Antoine Lavoisier.  His primary laboratory assistant, she edited his work and illustrated it with detailed drawings. She translated his essays into English and published them.

A high school student teacher of mine this last semester planned a chemistry unit. In one class he introduced his students to twelve great scientists who made important discoveries that led to our modern understanding of chemistry. Guess what?  All twelve of them were men.  

marie curie public domain

Marie Curie 1867-1934 carried out groundbreaking work in radioactivity. She was the first person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. 

After the lesson I asked him if there were no female chemists he might have introduced to the students.  “There are only men mentioned in the curriculum,” he told me. Sure enough!  I checked the grade nine Manitoba science curriculum and the time line provided there included the exact twelve men my student teacher had faithfully introduced to his class.  Since I always encourage my students to make sure their lessons connect to curriculum I really couldn’t fault the young man. But I was disappointed in the Manitoba Department of Education. How could such outdated and non- inclusive curriculum documents still exist?  I was also curious!  How hard would it be to find a dozen female chemists?  As it turned out not hard at all!

Creative Commons Famous-Women-in-Chemistry-HistoryIt didn’t take too many minutes of searching on the internet to find a site that featured twelve famous female chemists.  In my follow-up notes to my student teacher I suggested he check them out.   “The girls in your class need role models too,”  I told him. 

Other posts……….

Women Were Honored?  Think Again John Kelly!

An Inclusive O Canada

Galileo’s Grocery List

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