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Chipping away at stereotypes about older women and science, one story at a time

I love this: A cutely named blog that celebrates the accomplishments of older women who have worked in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Harvey Mudd College mathematician Rachel Levy, PhD, said her inspiration for starting the Grandma Got Stem blog stemmed (ha, ha) from growing "tired of hearing people say 'how would you explain that to your grandmother?' when they probably mean something like 'How would you explain the idea in a clear, compelling way so that people without a technical background can understand you?'” (Er, I admit that I'm guilty of having used a similar line - just substitute "elderly aunt" for "grandmother" - in the past.) Levy's idea was to show that plenty of women have experience in technical fields by launching "public awareness/art projects using grandmothers’ pictures+names+connections to STEM."

One of the women featured  is 80-year-old Ruth Guttman, PhD, a professor emeritus at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and I quite like this story from her pre-genetics days:

In the early 1940s, she applied to Cornell’s School of Agriculture but was rejected since the school did not accept women. According to family lore, Ruth wrote to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who may have interceded on her behalf, since when Ruth re-applied, she was accepted.

And I also love what her granddaughter wrote, calling Guttman both an inspiration and "one of the reasons I’ve always grown up assuming that science and medicine isn’t that unusual a field for women to work in."

If you have suggestions for other "geeky grannies" (Levy's words!) to be profiled on the blog, Levy is looking for submissions.

Previously: Pioneers in science
Via Women in Tech
Photo by Horia Varlan

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