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.
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 How could such outdated and non- inclusive curriculum documents still exist?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!
It 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.