Tag Archives: science

Women in Science Speak Out- Using Humor

As my (Cathy’s) daughter is a research scientist and director of a private laboratory, the recent sexist comments by Nobel Prize-winning British scientist, Sir Tim Hunt, was quite a topic of discussion in our home.  Hunt, a biochemist who was a joint recipient of the 2001 Nobel Prize made the offensive remarks while speaking at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea.  Hunt stated that mixed gender laboratories are “trouble” and “”you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticize them, they cry”.  According to the BBC, Hunt later apologized for his comments during a phone interview, but then went on to say:

“I did mean the part about having trouble with girls … I have fallen in love with people in the lab and people in the lab have fallen in love with me and it’s very disruptive to the science.”

Hunt’s “retraction” only led to a much stronger public response and initiated his resignation from his honorary post at University College London.  The social media frenzy that followed, particularly through twitter was intriguing.  Female scientists from around the world spearheaded an ironic Twitter campaign to mock Sir Tim Hunt’s sexist comments about the need for single-sex laboratories.  For example, Allison Sekuler, AVP & Dean Grad Studies and Prof of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour @ McMaster University tweeted:

Can’t do any science today because – like all women – I’m too busy making #TimHunt fall in love with me and crying http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/jun/10/tim-hunt-apologises-comments-trouble-female-scientists …

Archaeologists, biochemists and mathematicians starting posting “distracting ” photographs of themselves at work:



And male scientists demonstrated solidarity by posting new signs in their labs:



It was satisfying for me to see women in science not only display a strong voice, but be able to maintain a sense of humor.  This sense of humor will bode us well as we move forward in our crusade to combat sexism and other forms of oppression in the work place and in education.





Creating an Audit Trail

During one of my final practicum visits, I (Cathy) was excited to see one of my student teachers had created an audit trail.   When I mentioned this to her, she replied, “I thought  it was just a bulletin board.” But it was far more than ‘just a bulletin board’.   The student work Melissa had beautifully displayed represented an entire science unit of learning from pre-diagnosis to final summaries.

Audit trails were popularized by Dr. Vivian Vasquez, in her ground breaking critical literacy work with 3-5 year olds.  Vasquez says,                                                                                                             An audit trail or learning wall, as my three to five year old students called it, is a public display of artifacts gathered together by a teacher and their students that represents their thinking about different issues and topics.  This strategy is useful for creating spaces for students to re-visit, reread, analyze, and re-imagine various topics or issues. It is also a powerful tool for connecting past projects or areas of study to newer projects or areas of study. Further, it can be used as a tool for building curriculum as it visibly lays out the journey of the group’s thinking and learning over a period of time.


more walldiagnostic molecules

Encouraging Inquiry at an Early Age

I (Cathy) was inspired by the posting below of a young girl’s science experiment.  It actually made  make me rethink purchasing organic foods.  From an educator’s point of view,  it also demonstrated how significant inquiry, experimentation and science literacies are, and the impact they can have, especially when conducted at an early age.  While watching the video, I wondered if the process of doing this experiment will influence this young girl’s future educational leanings.  I had the pleasure of visiting my own daughter recently and was awed as I watched her conduct experiments with bacteria in her lab.  She became a biomedical researcher and is published in medical journals all over the world.  Science is her life now, and it all started with simple biology experiments in high school.



Who knows what we inspire in children by encouraging them to build inquiries and conduct purposeful experiments.  The young girl in the following video may well be in the same position as my daughter some day.