In 1962, Francis Crick was awarded the Nobel Prize for the discovery of DNA structure together with James Watson and Maurice Wilkins. British biophysicist Rosalind Franklin, who paved the way for this discovery, was not included in the textbooks, but became an exemplary role model when the subject of women in science was opened.
Esther Lederberg’s name was not included in the Nobel Prize, which her husband won in 1958, thanks to the method they found for transferring bacterial colonies from one petri dish to another. A year ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was given to Tsung-Dao Lee and Chen Ning Yang thanks to their “law of equality” research, which made a big step in quantum mechanics. The third person in the experiment Chien-Shiung Wu’s name, however, did not exist in the prize
When we look at the present day in the Covid-19 pandemic, while Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci played a pioneering role in developing vaccines against the coronavirus, they were featured in the Turkish press as “Uğur Bey and his wife”.
The non-existence of women in science as a male-dominated field is not seen in one, two, three cases but is a phenomenon seen all over the world. The inability of a little girl to find opportunities, different recommended priorities for a young woman, or the deletion of the name of a scientist who has reached there by overcoming all obstacles, are part of this non-existence.
Many steps are being taken to support women and girls who cannot find a place in science due to lack of opportunities and differing prioritization as it is the most common way of this phenomenon: Baba Beni Okula Gönder mobilization and similar projects, books written to attract attention to female role models in children’s literature “ are done to break down this metaphorized invisible obstacle called as the “glass ceiling”.
However, in the third example of women’s nonexistence, even those who broke the glass ceiling, as seen in the examples of Özlem Türeci, Esther Lederberg, Rosalind Franklin and Chien-Shiung Wu, are somehow wiped out; emphasized not by scientist identities, but as being female, a spouse, or the “forgotten” second gender. In other words, the glass ceiling does not remain as a ceiling, it turns into a wall that surrounds a woman on all four sides.
Here’s the irony of the glass ceiling metaphor. Women breakinf down a glass ceiling in science that exists in the patriarchal system indicates finding a place for themselves in patriarchy. Thus the so-called space they find is a mystery, as can be seen.
Simone de Beauvoir says “One is not born but rather becomes a woman” in her book Second Sex. In the world of science as well, one is not born but rather becomes one. Trying to exist in the pathway of patriarchy for women should not be the main purpose to find a place in STEM for women. Only then can a woman exist as a scientist, rather than a second sex in science.