I am immensely proud of being an alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, where I was able to get a world class education and have opportunities to meet with and learn from superb professors, some of whom have since earned Nobel Prizes. Those were some of the most fun years of my life and I also appreciated the beautiful, sprawling campus with lots of fantastic architecture and wide-open green spaces to lounge around on and play catch with my friend every now and then. It is mere coincidence that the day this article published is also Marian Koshland's birthday, and it got me thinking about Koshland Hall, one of the newer (now old, because so am I) buildings when I started college, and which Koshland it was actually named after.
By the time I returned to graduate school to complete my PhD, the entering class in my program was half women and a large portion of my instructors were also women. I was encouraged to have access to their perspective and philosophies on science, and thought it a far cry from a decade before when most of my undergraduate instructors were men. Unfortunately, regardless of who is doing the reporting, although women do make up a good proportion of health care workers and just under half of all life science positions in the workforce, women comprise less than 30% of all STEM workers in the world, and since they are nudged away from science throughout their lives and careers while earning fewer STEM degrees than men, particularly in non-physical science fields. This is demonstrably worse for non-Asian minorities as their representation in STEM fields is under 10% overall. While I am thrilled to have been influenced by so many talented women scientists and colleagues in my career, these numbers can and should be improved.
As we head out of February and into March, we celebrated the resilience of our colleagues from diverse backgrounds during Black History Month and continue to promote the accessibility to science and STEM careers. There were a couple really important dates to recognize girls and women in February as well, with the National Girls & Women in Sports Day on the first day of the month, followed by the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11. And now in March, we have the entire month to celebrate the contributions of women throughout our history. To kick off Women's History Month, I wanted to take a look at some of the most accomplished women scientists that advanced our knowledge to new heights while overcoming societal pressures and prejudice.