"Record" Year For Women Says More About Sexism Than Advances

When Nobel prize winner Dr. Carol W. Greider first made her breakthrough discovery in 1984, she put on Springsteen and "danced and danced and danced." But she's serious right now, especially about the issue of sexism in science.

In an interview with the New York Times, Greider claims that more women gravitate toward her field not because there's anything particularly feminine about it, but because in a field where men tend to help other men, women must try to support other women:

The derogatory term is the "old boys network." It's not that they are biased against women or want to hurt them. They just don't think of them. And they often feel more comfortable promoting their male colleagues.

She goes on to mention the former president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, who most definitely is biased against women. Despite the gains women have made in science, there is still a clear tendency to think of science - and, it should be noted, economics - as something for boys only. Many have celebrated the recent Nobel record - 5 women won this year, out of 13 - but the so-called "record" isn't actually very impressive. And what's worse is the previous record: In 2004, only 3 women were awarded the prize. Greider is quick to point out that one year does not a trend make:

I certainly hope it's a sign that things are going to be different in the future. But I'm a scientist, right? This is one event. I'm not going to see one event and say it's a trend. I hope it is. One of the things I did with the press conference that Johns Hopkins gave was to have my two kids there. In the newspapers, there's a picture of me and my kids right there. How many men have won the Nobel in the last few years, and they have kids the same age as mine, and their kids aren't in the picture? That's a big difference, right? And that makes a statement.

But another important statement is being made on Twitter, where Elinor Ostrom is a top trend. We're pretty sure this honor is nothing compared to winning the Nobel prize, but when Twitter trending topics usually include stuff like "#liesgirlstell" and "#3wordsaftersex," the inclusion of a female researcher is most definitely a step up.

On Winning A Nobel Prize In Science [New York Times]
Nobel Prizes 2009: A Record Year For Women [AP]
Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Prize Winner, Top Trend On Twitter [Examiner]