Katie Hafner: Hello Science Talk audience. I’m Katie Hafner and I’m hosting a new podcast called Lost women of science. I’ve been writing about science and technology for decades, most of the time for The New York Times, but very seldom have I written about a woman who was a great figure. I can’t remember that it bothered me very much back then. It just seemed normal.
I thought I was writing about the most important people in their field, but as my career progressed it became clear that important people were missing, namely women. I started asking why a few years ago. And I kept coming back to something called the Matilda Effect, which is basically a prejudice against recognizing women for their work in science. Instead, the credit goes to a man.
A good example I saw on the news recently is Jocelyn Bell Burnell. She is a radio astronomer who discovered the first two pulsars, but the Nobel Prize went to a man. If we do not recognize these false attributions, these women can simply disappear from our consciousness and we will never know the truth about their story and our story.
I started this podcast to bring these scientists out of oblivion. We put together a trailer for this series and here it is:
Katie Hafner: I’m Katie Hafner, host of a new podcast called Lost women of science. Throughout history, women have made hundreds of scientific breakthroughs.
Scott Baird: She had a sixth sense for this disease that enabled her, uh, I think, to spot important clues.
Celia ores: She was helpful in a completely different unnoticed way.
Brian O’Sullivan: She put this puzzle together.
Katie Hafner: But many, if not most, of these scientists are absent from the public eye.
Scott Baird: And as I added up all this data in my head, I gradually realized that their place had been ignored.
Katie Hafner: Each season we explore and celebrate the life and work of a woman who shaped our understanding of the world.
And we’re going to get into some of the reasons you might not know her name.
Bijal Trivedi: I mean, why, why wasn’t Rosalind Franklin credited with her contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA? I think it’s the same kind of thing.
Katie Hafner: We will look at the obstacles these women faced, but also their passion, their drive, their sheer perseverance.
We go through the historical records for one exceptional scientist at a time.
Scott Baird: I finally found out, wait a second. There’s an alternate story here.
Katie Hafner: Join us as we honor these remarkable, untold stories. Lost Women of Science comes to anywhere you get your podcasts on November 4th.
[End of trailer]
Katie Hafner: A lot of digging is required to get to these stories. We at Lost women of science Search archives, museums, hospitals, people’s basements to put these people’s lives back together after being neglected for many, many decades. Our first season is about a pathologist named Dorothy Andersen, the first person to identify cystic fibrosis in a patient in the 1930s. Their work is the basis for the treatments for the disease available today.
By doing Lost women of science Podcast, we’re breaking down the science and trying to find out who these people were and what the world around them was like back then. It’s like a science podcast meets a historical piece with a mystery.
The more I researched, the more I realized that women were at the center of some of the most important developments in science. To give a few examples: In the early 20th century, Alice Ball, a young black chemist, came up with the most effective treatment for leprosy.
Visit us here at Scientific American or wherever you can get your podcasts. Just search for Lost Women of Science and you will find us.