When you think of a scientist… January 26, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in science, societal commentary, younger son.
Tags: science, women in science, younger son
On the way to school yesterday, the younger boy started telling me that Dr. Frankenstein wasn’t a real scientist. I asked him what he thought of when he heard the word scientist. He was very quiet, and I started feeling anxious that this was going to end up in a “dude in a lab coat with beaker”.
I interjected, “You think of your mom, right?”
“No,” he paused for a few moments more. “I think of someone who is already dead.”
Oh great. So to be a scientist, you can only be recognized post-mortem, right? I wondered if it was someone crazy like Tesla.
“Yeah, she discovered radium, I think.”
I was kind of stunned. He wasn’t thinking of guys in lab coats – he was thinking of Marie Curie. Upon conversing further, it turned out that he knew quite a bit about her. There was a Magic School Bus book on science fairs at his classroom, and he had read about her in there.
I had to admit that I was hugely relieved that not only did he suffer from a common misconception about what a scientist is but that his first thought of a scientist was actually a very accomplished female scientist.
Although I’m still a tiny bit sad he didn’t think of me.