Baroness Susan Greenfield Dispels Myth About Gender Disparity in Sciences

Susangreenfield On Tuesday night, I attended an event sponsored by Barclays Capital and Women in Technology where Baroness Susan Greenfield talked about "Banana Skins, Bottlenecks and Elephant Traps: The Perilous Journey for Women in IT." I was so impressed with her as a presenter – she showed off a razor sharp mind and wit to match. She was extremely engaging and made the audience feel she was presenting for them alone. What I found particularly useful was the way she dispelled the various myths about why there are not more women in scientific fields. She used scientific evidence from her background as a brain specialist to dismiss claims that "it’s all genetic" – explaining that no individual gene has been linked to understanding science and even if there was such a gene there is no 1 to 1 correlation between the highly complex interaction between genes and career choice. She then went on to tackle other myths with aplomb, such as "girls don’t like science", "girls are bad at science" and my personal favourite "women scientists are not normal". It was with this last particular myth that she took the most issue as she said that the media’s preoccupation of what women scientists look like (herself included) demonstrates just how narrow and ill-conceived our definitions of "scientists" actually are! She lamented the number of times she is described physically by the media before journalists go on to talk about her research, saying it "would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad".    

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