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Posts Tagged ‘Female Scientist Role Models’

I was thinking about Dana Scully this morning while getting ready for work, and what an inspiration she was to me when I was a teenager. I was reminiscing about my teenage years and my daily bus ride home from the coast to my home in a small town among rainforest on a mountain. And thinking about those times, Scully popped into my head. Her character on the X-Files inspired me to pursue science, and specifically forensic science (and forensic pathology) as a career. My career path took an alternative path and headed towards microbiology, research and now administration in scientific and university environments. But I still credit the figure of Scully – analytical, scientific and strong, for me being a scientist. And as a teenage girl who knew she didn’t look like and was not like everyone else, she was an inspiration – a pretty redhead who wore suits, carried a gun and used her intelligence and knowledge, and not her looks and sexuality, to succeed.

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I borrowed a book from the university library entitled, Science, Technology and Culture by David Bell. And I was pleased to see a few mentions of the X-Files. I was even more delighted to see a short paragraph about Dana Scully and what her character represented / conveyed. The paragraph read, “…. one aspect of the show that was seen positively, at least by some people, was its depiction of a female scientist in the central character Dana Scully (Wilcox & Williams, 1996). In playfully upturning the association of males and scientific rationality, Scully was the show’s sceptic and scientist, a foil to Fox Mulder’s ‘irrational’ belief in alien abduction and government conspiracy. An extratextual effect of this narrative commented on at the time was that it reopened the door to science for girls and women who had previously been excluded or had themselves from education or employment in ‘male’ science.’ For myself, seeing Scully as a female scientist and being rational and analytical spoke volumes to me. It was an affirmation of being a female scientist and showed to me that I too could do it. And Scully provided inspiration and a career path at the time – forensic science (which I didn’t end up pursuing). For me she was a great role model and the X-Files greatly stimulated my interest in science and my own rational thought and critical thinking. Book – Bell, David (2006) Science, Technology and Culture, Open University Press, McGraw-Hill Education, Maidenhead, UK.

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Although I am a trained scientist and a former research student, I work in administration in a calibration lab. In Australia this field is known as Measurement Science and Technology – the science of testing and adjusting an instrument to ensure it is measuring correctly and determining the level of error for these measurements. My company has a number of branches around he country and all admin staff are women. And I find it quiet interesting communicating with other calibration company’s female admin staff also. But even more inspiring was finding out about other women with technical and quality control positions. I think it is fantastic that women hold and are taking on technical roles in a male dominated field. I used to say to my former boss that we should get more female technicians. I was even tempted to get to know the process. With a growing requirement for NATA accredited laboratories to test customer’s instruments, a change in ratios of women to men in these fields and the subsequent changing of attitudes I think this is all very encouraging.

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I would like to establish myself as Lesbian Science & Medical writer. I would like to carve out a niche for myself. I would relish communicating about science, medicine, health and research to a lesbian audience. I would love to have the opportunity to enlighten and inspire young lesbian/bisexual/queer or transgendered women to be interested in science.

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While surfing the net for information on science writing and medical writing agencies & reading science blogs such those from Scientific American, I see successful female science and medical writers and I think “I want to be like them!!” I want to write for a respected science magazine. I would like to make my own mark on the world of science communication. I would love to inspire other young female science writers. A dream of mine is to be either a freelance science, medical and health writer contributing to various science and health magazines and websites or to be writer working with a research organization. I am a former medical research student and I am very passionate about communicating about the essential nature of research and the key
discoveries and disease breakthroughs research has provided the modern world. With training, avid writing and perseverance I can hopefully one day achieve my dream

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Kay Scarpetta from the Patricia Cornwell series of crime novels, also a Forensic Pathologist, was a role model and an inspiration to me while growing up. She two was a smart, tough lady.

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Sam Ryan (played by Amanda Burton), a Forensic Pathologist in the BBC Drama Silent Witness was another role model of mine while growing up. She was a gutsy, determined, smart Northern Irish lady. Shame she left the show

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