So, I’m waiting for the test print of my Ada Lovelace poster before I launch it, but I want to produce a series of at least six posters before October.
Question is, which other five women in STEM should I pick? I want a good mix of famous and not-so-famous, as well as to make sure that they’re not all white and western. My current thoughts are:
- Susan LaFlesche Picott – Native American physician and public health reformer
- Mary Anning – paeleontologist
- Chien-Shiung Wu – physicist
- Grace Hopper – computer programmer
- Rosalind Franklin – x-ray crystallographer
- Mae Jemison – astronaut
- Florence Nightingale – statistician
I’m pretty set on LaFlesche Picott and Anning, but the rest are up for grabs.
I’m a bit worried that Wu’s achievements are a little tricky to describe in a poster - she was an experimental physicist who worked on radiation, she disproved the theory of the conservation of parity, which no one now has even heard of, and her colleagues got the Nobel, but she didn’t.
Hopper is relatively easy, but should I have two computer scientists in the first batch of six?
Franklin’s a bit of a shoe-in, really. Pretty easy to both describe her accomplishments and find appropriate illustrations for it.
Mae Jemison is interesting. I obviously want to make sure that women of colour are represented, but although Jemison is known as the first African American to go into space, she actually only went once. And when you look for black women in STEM, what you often find are “First African American woman to do X”, which feels a bit… unsatisfactory. I want to be able to say ‘Person who discovered X or did Y’ and not have to rely on ‘first’. I’m aware that I’ve used “first” with Ada’s poster, but I want that to be the exception not the rule.
Nightingale is also interesting as there appears to be some controversy over the extent to which she really did use stats in hospital reform, so I need to read up on her a bit more. That might just be a bit of whitewashing by her detractors to try to undermine her legacy, same as happens with Ada. I’d like to do something, though, as I know she’s taught in schools, but always as ‘the lady with the lamp’ and never as ‘kick-ass statistician’.
So, any other suggestions? How would you prioritise this list? Who would you add?