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Who are your role models?

This year, girls and women have three wonderful new role models. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to, and accepted by, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, for non-violent peace work in women’s rights. The peace prize is awarded based on Alfred Nobel’s criteria to those “who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.”

For the longest time when people asked who my role models were as a girl and then a young woman, I would say, I don’t have role models. I don’t know anyone I want to be, other than me.

That changed a bit when I met geneticist Barbara McClintock. I was only 27 years old, and had introduced myself by way of a letter suggesting a new experiment. She responded by letter and invited me to study at Cold Spring Harbor with her.  I left my position at DuPont Experimental Station in a heartbeat, divorced, and moved to Long Island to work with her on experiments in corn genetics.  And while I didn’t want to be Barbara, I admired her and loved her. Contrary to popular belief, Barbara was a warm and humorous person, generous with her time to her students.  Future Nobel Laureate Carol Greider, about my age, was also at Cold Spring Harbor at this time, working on the same floor.

One of my favorite quotes is, “you have to have a feeling for the abnormal” -Barbara McClintock, Nobel Laureate. This was a turn of the phrase used for the title of her biography she didn’t much care for, “A feeling for the organism”. The photo of Barbara in her corn lab is from http://bit.ly/f8hkyp .

Understanding the successful roles women play in our world in science, literature and activism is central to building up hope among girls. Many may, like I have, deny that they are different in any important way from boys or men. Even now, when it’s Women’s History Month  I wondered at first why do we have this? Do we have a Men’s History Month? But of course, that would just be the other 11 months.

One of my least favorite quotes: “little girls are to be seen and not heard” –Dad.

To mark women’s history month, an exhibit of successes and role models celebrating being seen and being heard in science, literature and peace:

Elinor Ostrom, Economics Nobel prize 2009 Celebrate Women in Economics, more at http://bit.ly/esd5U2

Marie Curie, Physics Nobel Prize 1903, Chemistry Nobel Prize 1911 Celebrate Women Scientists in Physics, more at http://bit.ly/4D4mVp

Maria Mayer, Physics Nobel Prize 1963 Celebrate Women Scientists in Physics, more at http://bit.ly/gL1j0v

Irene Joliot Curie, Chemistry Nobel Prize 1935 Celebrate Women Scientists in Chemistry, more at http://bit.ly/hnwW11

Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin, Chemistry Nobel Prize 1964 Celebrate Women Scientists in Chemistry, more at http://bit.ly/gkAcXK

Ada Yonath, Chemistry Nobel Prize 2009 Celebrate Women Scientists in Chemistry, more at http://bit.ly/hOl66Y

Gerty Cori, Medicine Nobel Prize 1947 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/gQU0F2

Rosalyn Yalow, Medicine Nobel Prize 1977 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/heG9lj

Barbara McClintock, Medicine Nobel Prize 1983, my mentor, Celebrate Women in Genetics, http://bit.ly/dVLpy2

Rita Levi-Montalcini, Medicine Nobel Prize 1986 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/evO5zh

Gertrude Elion, Medicine Nobel Prize 1988 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/essQGZ

Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Medicine Nobel Prize 1995 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/gFettX

Linda Buck, Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize 2004 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/gCFR9s

Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize 2008 Celebrate Women in Medicine, more at http://bit.ly/gRRcJB

Elizabeth Blackburn, Physiology or Medicine Nobel Prize 2009 Celebrate Women Scientists in Genetics, more at http://bit.ly/fB2jvR

Carol Greider, Physiology & Medicine Nobel Prize 2009 Celebrate Women in Genetics more at http://bit.ly/fdfFWf

PEACE

Baroness Bertha von Suttner, Nobel Peace Prize 1905, Author, Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/h5SOER

Jane Addams, Nobel Peace Prize 1931, Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/fViMaY

Emily Greene Balch, Nobel Peace Prize 1946 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/eWdnfO

Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Prize 1976 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/eBwA62

Mairead Corrigan, Nobel Peace Prize 1976 Celebrate Women in Peace more at http://bit.ly/gjJUPg

Mother Teresa, Nobel Peace Prize 1979 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/hQ0OId

Alva Myrdal, Nobel Peace Prize 1982 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/eiBrb2

Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize 1991 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/eT4Nt3

Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Nobel Peace Prize 1992 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at  http://bit.ly/hBnnSB

Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize 1997 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/gM6yxe

Shirin Ebadi, Nobel Peace Prize 2003 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/5qkLmq

Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize 2004 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at http://bit.ly/fFwdlN

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Nobel Peace Prize 2011 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at  “The Nobel Peace Prize 2011”. Nobelprize.org. 13 Dec 2011.  http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011 Celebrate Women in Peace, more at  “The Nobel Peace Prize 2011”. Nobelprize.org. 13 Dec 2011.  http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/

Tawakkol Karman, Nobel Peace Prize 2011, Celebrate Women in Peace, more at  “The Nobel Peace Prize 2011”. Nobelprize.org. 13 Dec 2011.  http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/

LITERATURE

Selma Lagerlof,  Literature Nobel Prize 1909 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/f9DBT0

Grazia Deledda, Literature Nobel Prize  1926 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/hDmGQw

Sigrid Undset Literature Nobel Prize  1928 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/ewFRyW

Pearl Buck, Literature Nobel Prize 1938 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/f7xmqM

Gabriela Mistral, Literature Nobel Prize 1945 Celebrate Women Poets, more at http://bit.ly/ikdmj6

Nelly Sachs, Literature Nobel Prize 1966 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/hEmIFA

Nadine Gordimer, Literature Nobel Prize 1991Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, http://bit.ly/eZy0tM

Toni Morrison, Literature Nobel Prize 1993 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, http://bit.ly/i32BU9

Wislawa Szymborska, Literature Nobel Prize 1996 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, http://bit.ly/h2v2Fz

Elfriede Jelinek, Literature Nobel Prize 2004 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, http://bit.ly/8dYIdD

Doris Lessing, Literature Nobel Prize 2007 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, http://bit.ly/i1NNQb

Herta Muller, Literature Nobel Prize 2009 Celebrate Women Authors in Literature, more at http://bit.ly/dPqF4j

 

Who are your role models?

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