Contest Winner Could Turn Things Around For Women In Science

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Congratulations to Melissa Rey, 14, of Parkway Central Middle School in Chesterfield, MO! She won the America's Top Young Scientist competition. She was challenged on her knowledge of space-related themes: jet propulsion, repair of the Hubble Space Telescope, Martian topography and how to simulate lunar gravity on Earth. (You can see pictures of some of the challenges here.) While Ms. Rey's efforts and interest in science are to be applauded, do women in the sciences get any respect? Blog 3 Quarks Daily notes that on a list (from Scientific American) of the Top 10 Nobel Snubs — scientists who should have received Nobel prizes but didn't — several are women.First there's Lise Meitner, who collaborated with German chemist Otto Hahn from 1907-1938. Meitner guided Hahn through the experiments that led to the discovery of nuclear fission, according to her biographer, Ruth Lewin Sime. Since Meitner was an Austrian Jew, Hahn published the results of their work together without including her as a co-author, due to the political climate of the era. Historians say that Hahn initially indicated that he intended to credit Meitner when it was safe to do so. But when Hahn received the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, he took sole credit for the work. Then there's Rosalind Franklin, who took X-ray photographs of DNA crystals. She died before her colleagues shared the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Lastly, Jocelyn Bell Burnell detected the first pulsars (rotating balls of neutrons that spin thorugh the universe) and published her results in 1968. She was a graduate student under Antony Hewish at the University of Cambridge, and in 1973, they shared the prestigious Franklin Institute's Michelson Medal. But in 1974, Hewish won the Nodel prize for physics — the first Nobel won by astronomers — and Burnell was not included. On one hand, you've got to wonder if the work itself is what's important, and not the prize: Isn't having women in the sciences about results, not rewards? On the other hand, what is up with women being refused recognition for their work? (And do you think, despite the struggles female scientists have gone through, that Melissa Rey will get the props she deserves?)

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Missouri girl named 'Top Young Scientist' [UPI] No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs [3 Quarks Daily] No Nobel for You: Top 10 Nobel Snubs [Scientific American] Related: Young Scientist Challenge 2008 [Discovery Education] Earlier: Memo To MTV: Please Make A Reality Show About Chick Scientists



I'm totes sending this article to my 12-year-old stepdaughter. She's all brainy and science-y. If she can ever break free from the gymnastics stranglehold her mother has her in (15 hours PER WEEK plus competitions), perhaps she can explore her full brainiac potential.

Yay for smart girls!!!