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Museums around the world honor women in science

Museums around the world honor women in science

The United Nations General Assembly, held at the end of 2015, decided to declare February 11th International Day of Women and Girls in Science “In recognition of the key role that women play in the scientific and technological community.”

Why is it necessary to remember this obvious fact? Because, according to the United Nations itself, Only 12% Among the members of scientific academies are women, because only in cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence One in five The professionals are mostly women, or because women still represent only 28% of engineering graduates and 40% of computer science graduates.

These statements also have consequences in a context such as museums, where, despite recent efforts, there are few proposals that highlight the role of women, not only in science, but in any branch of knowledge.

Why this lack of museums for women?

Museum - Source: Unpslash
Smithsonian American Art Museum – Source: Unpslash

As researchers Victoria Lopez Benito and Naira Lunch Molina said in their article An overview of women's museums in the worldEven today, in the 21st century, “it's very difficult.”Women's musician“Because of its current nature, because of the social conflicts it represents, and because of its geographical and cultural differences.”

When a topic is contemporary and present in society, when it is popular or newsworthy, “it is impossible to deal with it from a distance, with Analytical character And aseptically, because there is a tendency to Lose objectivity And take a certain ideological position. For all these reasons, the authors of the article say, the number of women’s associations, centers and institutions exceeds the number of potential women’s museums, and they are less common or non-existent in many countries of the world.

However, this lack of museums that are specific to women or that include specific elements about the role of women in certain fields is also due to the “history of tokens.” A sign of paternalism Signed by the conservative movements of the victorious bourgeoisie of the nineteenth century, which definitively reduced the woman, the wife, and the bourgeoisie, to a higher level. Secondary and negative role“.

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However, in recent decades, efforts from the private and public sectors to reverse this inequality have multiplied also in the field of museums. In 2008, the First International Conference of Women's Museums was held under the leadership of Dr International Association of Women's Museums (IAWM).

At that time there were 48 existing women's museums in 30 countries, as well as 14 new projects. Undoubtedly, something has changed in recent decades, also in this sector which mainly contributes to the emergence Cultural and social contribution for women.

Museums of female scientists in the world

Birthplace of Marie Curie – Source: DepositphotosBirthplace of Marie Curie – Source: Depositphotos
Marie Curie's birthplace in Warsaw – Source: Depositphotos

Recognizing this role for women in science, as well as in technology, engineering and mathematics (It stems(abbreviation in English) There are different museums in the world that offer specific content, exhibitions and sections aimed at highlighting their scientific works, including some museums that focus exclusively on the great figures in the history of science.

United State

The United States cannot be said to be the most advanced and egalitarian country in the world, but it is one of the countries with the most careful museum network, a true leader in many museum fields, and also aware of the role of national and international institutions. Cultural proof, and on many occasions, also develops this type of institution.

In this sense, it is not surprising that the United States is one of the countries in the world with the largest number of content about female scientists in its museums. This is the situation American Women's History Museum Established in 1996 in Washington, D.C., it is dedicated to preserving, interpreting and glorifying women's contribution to history, while of course incorporating this legacy into the national history of the United States.

Currently offering a Online collection It features both historical and current female scholars, some of whom collaborate closely with various institutions at the university Smithsonian: From geneticist Margaret Mann Leslie to biologist Google Howard to primatologist Meg Crowfoot, who currently works with the Smithsonian itself.

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Not far from Washington in the city Bostonalso highlights the Science Museum created by the initiative Women in science and engineering With the aim of encouraging girls to engage in scientific studies. Since 1997, the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Committee has hosted a biannual forum to recognize the professional and life experiences of outstanding STEM professionals.

If we go to the Midwest we find an interesting exhibit that vindicates the character of Jane Goodall, one of the great pioneers of primate study in the twentieth century: It's the Exhibition Becoming Jane: The Evolution of Dr. Jane Goodall Follower Utah Museum.

United kingdom

Natural History Museum, London - Source: DepositphotosNatural History Museum, London - Source: Depositphotos
London Natural History Museum – Source: Depositphotos

We are now going to London to visit a must-see museum on this tour of women's scientific and professional work. It's about Florence NightingaleHe is considered the founder of modern nursing. Although it now seems like the most natural thing in the world to open a museum about a pioneering woman in her profession, it was not so normal in 1982, when this institution was opened: it was one of the first biographical museums dedicated to the professional work of a woman. .

Florence Nightingale was the first woman admitted to Britain's Royal Statistical Society, established the world's first secular school of nursing and served as an inspiration to Henry Durant, founder of the Red Cross: International Nurses Day is celebrated on his birthday. , May 12.

But England's most important science museum is anything but a museum Natural History Museum Which also devotes an important part of its activities to defending the historical role of women in science, but also Your current job: “More than 300 scientists spend their days inside the museum’s collections, repositories and laboratories.”

also, Science Museum From South Kensington in London the British capital also has Special section Which allows visitors to browse specific content about the activities of female scientists.

And in Oxford We must also highlight the work of the university's Natural History Museum, which offers… a tour To the scientific careers of diverse women, from geneticist Barbara McClintock to physicist Shin-Shiung Wu.

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Marie Curie in Warsaw and Paris

Specifically, one of the women who earned a place of honor in the exhibition at Oxford University's Natural History Museum is Marie Curie, who has had her own biographical museum in Warsaw open ever since. For more than five decadesAlthough it has been in its current location since 2014.

However, Paris also pays tribute to the Nobel laureate because she developed a large part of her career in France, and also became a French citizen: she was the first female professor at the University of Paris. There is no loss in finding this museum because it is located at No. 1, Rue Pierre and Marie Curie.

Women's Museums in Spain

Museum of Natural Sciences in BarcelonaMuseum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona
Barcelona Natural Sciences Museum – Source: Barcelona City Council

There is no doubt that Spain has become a global reference in terms of equality and these developments have also had an impact on museums, where we have recently seen exhibitions trying to lay the foundations for a new approach to the history of science.

Over the past year, for example, we have been able to see… Museum of Natural Sciences in Barcelona Exhibition (In) visible and (O) cultivated Inspired by statements like these from chemist Adela Muñoz: “Science responds to the same patriarchal mechanisms of society, but until very recently it hid behind the objectivity of the scientific method.”

the Science Museum of the University of Navarra Which for years has devoted various activities aimed at highlighting the scientific work of women, such as the project Women in science: John Almeida, Janaki Ammal, Mary Anning, and Florence Nightingale herself were indeed the protagonists of the studies for this Navarrese Museum.

And interesting Museum of Science and the Universe in Tenerife It also strengthened the presence of female scientists, by incorporating fifteen information panels indicating the biographies and careers of female scientists such as astronomer Vera Rubin, astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, or Asturian scientist Margarita Salas.