Women in Math and Science

by Lucy Ji, age 13

When you think of people who have succeeded in math and science, many of us normally think of Einstein, Isaac Newton or Galileo. Are you surprised that they are all men? The history books have not had much to say about women and the sciences. 

But things are changing. More and more women are deserving attention—and getting attention. 

Regina Dugan was recently promoted to director at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, otherwise known as DARPA. Dr. Dugan is 47 years old and has a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in mechanical engineering. This is the agency that actually invented the internet

Another outstanding woman in the field science is Carolyn Bertozzi. She was honored in 2010 Lemelson-MIT prize, an extremely prestigious award given to inventors and entrepreneurs. Bertozzi, a chemical biologist, developed a chemical reaction that can be used on living cells, biological molecules and even live animals without doing them any harm. This discovery is going to help scientists around the world to find ways to treat illnesses like cancer and arthritis.

There are also plenty of women rights here in Madison working to change the unfortunate statistics regarding women and math-science careers. Andrea Gilmore and Janet Mertz are two such successful women. They, and two others, participated in a recent Women in Science Forum held here at the Free Press newsroom.

Andrea is a former student reporter here at this paper when she was in high school and now serves on our board of directors. She is now a PhD student in the UW-Madison School of Nursing. She studies Dementia, which is a condition affecting memory loss and communication skills in older people. 

Janet Mertz also served as a guest panelist at our recent forum. When she was in graduate school she made a major discovery, which eventually led to helping her professor be awarded a Noble Peace Prize. 

These women work long and hard to succeed in areas that have been traditionally dominated by men. They deserve recognition for their efforts. Women like these are pioneers. They pave the way for those of us who want to pursue careers in the important fields of math and science.  

[Sources: New York Times; USA Today; Simpson Street Free Press]