Being a new parent is full of trials and tribulations. Some are practical challenges that you never envisaged in your life. Like trying to change a nappy on a vigorously rolling one year old without getting covered in poo. Others are more philosophical, like how do I raise a feminist? For this I turn to Eva and Jude, two children who were on a programme called the Secret Life Of Five-Year-Olds (if you haven’t seen it, find it on Channel 4, it’s immense). Why can’t girls be scientists? Jude, a 5-year-old boy, replies that they’d ‘make silly potions’. His companion, a 5-year-old girl named Eva, promptly volunteers ‘I extracted the DNA from a banana once’. Boom. Drops mic.
I’m not alone in thinking Eva is a feminist icon. I want to write to Eva’s mum and ask for a guide to raising a little girl who schools boys on karate and is aware of the suffragette movement. I suspect step one is to be a well informed feminist yourself. I asked my husband to name some famous females in science or medicine and he could name more than I could. Ugh. I have therefore been schooling myself on some of the less well celebrated, but seriously fierce, females that have blazed a trail in science or medicine. Let me share:
|Image: American Red Cross|
Rebecca Lee Crumpler made history in 1864 when she became the first African American woman to be awarded a medical degree. Little is known about her life, and despite her massive achievement no images of her exist today. What we do know of her comes from her 'Book of Medical Discourses', whose existence is further testimony to her intelligence and fortitude as it was one of the first medical publications by an African American. Reflecting on why she had entered into medicine she said: "It may be well to state here that, having been reared by a kind aunt in Pennsylvania, whose usefulness with the sick was continually sought, I early conceived a liking for, and sought every opportunity to relieve the sufferings of others.” Her desire to alleviate suffering was such that she treated children without concern for their parents ability to pay her.
If you’re interested in more impressive women, there’s a helpful (though woefully short) list of female Nobel Laureates available here. The NIH also has an interesting project called Changing the Face of Medicine which celebrates female physicians.
In the week of Galentine’s Day, I’d like to say a big thank you to these women and to all the strong women I’m lucky to have in my life. I look forward to raising my little feminist with my staunchly feminist hubbie, and maybe toots will follow in the footsteps of these illustrious women. Or maybe she’ll carve her own unique path. Whatever road she chooses I hope she’ll know that well-behaved women rarely make history.