From the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
Women in science exhibit aims to inspire
By AMANDA RICKER Chronicle Staff Writer
Louise Bourgeois was the first professionally trained female surgeon. Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer program. Rosalind Franklin developed an X-ray that proved DNA molecules were helical.
Yet none of these women’s names are well known.“If you look and read history carefully, you’ll always find women’s names behind everything,” said Barbara Keremedjiev, who founded and runs the American Computer Museum in Bozeman with her husband, George.
A new permanent exhibit at the museum, “From Astronomy to Zoology: 1,500 years of Women in Science and Technology,” aims to raise awareness of women like Bourgeois, Lovelace and Franklin and inspire people n especially young girls – to be scientists.
The exhibit includes original letters, theses and books written by women whose accomplishments are sometimes overlooked by history.
“So much of what women scientists have done seems to have been covered up,” said Julia Hatch, a senior at Montana State University who visited the exhibit as part of an assignment for her gender class.
The exhibit begins with Hypatia of Alexandria, a fourth-century scholar who taught math, philosophy and astronomy in Roman Egypt. People are reported to have traveled miles to learn from her until a fanatical religious group killed her because she defended the principles of science over religion.
“She is credited as being the first woman scientist of any consequence,” George Keremedjiev said. “She was pivotal.”
Right next to the Hypatia display is an original receipt Bourgeois gave King Henry IV.
Bourgeois delivered six children for the king and Marie de Medici during the 16th century. She published a book about obstetrics that’s considered the first book of science or medicine ever published by a woman in Europe.
The exhibit also features original copies of chemist, physicist and two-time Nobel Prize-winner Marie Curie’s first three published papers; primatologist Jane Goodall’s first book; and a signed copy of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” which led to a United States ban on DDT and other pesticides.
Cecelia Payne was just 25 years old when she wrote her 1925 thesis on the sun, which she described as being composed of mostly hydrogen, contrary to theory at that time. She went on to become the first woman to achieve the status of full professor at Harvard and her original thesis is in the exhibit.
This rare collection made possible in part by grants from the Gilhausen Foundation and Zoot industries, took the Keremedjievs years to plan and assemble, George Keremedjiev said. “I hope that (the exhibit) will inspire parents to bring their daughters, nieces, sisters, wives to see this.”
Each of the women in the exhibit paved the way for women scientists today.
“Many of (the women) had to struggle tremendously to even be allowed to study science,” George said. “They often had to work with equipment that was inferior and universities wouldn’t say they were working for them. It’s very inspiring how they persisted.”
Curie was denied membership to the French Academy of Sciences because of her gender.
Before being given an officials position at Harvard, Payne considered leaving because of her low status and poor salary.
After Franklin died, the men she had worked with on DNA discoveries received a Nobel Prize.
“Behind every great man, there’s an exhausted woman,” George said, citing a now popular saying.