I recently went to lunch with some friends, and we ended up discussing the lack of female role models in engineering and how that may be limiting the growth of diversity in our field. The discussion went a little further, and the point was made that the role models we already have are not getting enough attention.
This triggered a thought experiment in my mind: If I asked everyone in this room to name a female scientist, how many of them would say Marie Curie? My guess would be a hefty majority. If I then asked them to name a second famous female scientist or engineer, I suspect there would be a long pause while people scoured their memory for another name. Now run the same thought experiment, except this time ask for the name of a male scientist or engineer. You would probably get a variety of answers right away (Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and Bill Gates, among others) as well as a quick response for the second name.
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