Between December 2014 and January 2015 I was busy working on two contributions for Bang! science magazine, a student-run publication which – sadly – is hardly impossible to find outside of the Oxford ecosystem.
‘Issue 18’ of Bang! focusses on women in science. I wasn’t too convinced about the theme at first – not because I don’t believe women to be under-represented in science, but because I sometimes find myself in polite disagreement with the ways this aspect is analysed and adressed. Then, precisely because I thought I could perhaps propose an alternative viewpoint on a matter too often banalized (instead of passively ranting about the articles on women in science I dislike), I set out to write a piece or two for the magazine. And they were kind enough to let me do so! You can look at the full issue here.
One article is about a woman in science I had not heard of before October 2014 – despite the fact that she produced a translation (from English into French) and commentary of Newton’s work back in the 18th century (when women hardly received any education). I was curious to learn more about Emilie Du Châtelet, for which reason I spent a few hours reading visibly unpopular books (the evidence: they smelt as if they had been printed the day before I opened them) borrowed from the Bodleian Library. The second piece was more complex to write; it required me to circulate a short survey among Oxford colleges to engage women who walk away from science. When did they drop scientific subjects, and how do they feel about this decision? What is their view on, say, female role models in science? It was an extremely insightful experience – designing the questionnaire, collecting answers and summarising the findings. To the women who took the time to answer my questions: thank you very much for your honesty.
And now, back to my ‘favourite’ writing task of the past months – my PhD thesis. De-lovely.