"Try Art"

Feb 27 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

My shift as a Scientopia guest blog starts today.  I'll mostly be blogging about the history of women in science, but maybe some other topics too.

A bit of introduction:  I liked science as a kid; I gobbled up science magazines and science television on PBS, I postered my room with space images, I even won the physics award in high school.  In college, I found other things I liked more.  And when a TA for my freshman physics class wrote "try art" on one of my quizzes, I saw his point -- I had drawn a beautiful diagram of an arm lifting a weight, but completely failed to solve the torque problem correctly.  I eventually earned degrees in geography and education, and have mostly done historical and art-related projects over the last twenty-some years.   Right now I'm president of the Disability History Association, and a research scholar with the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.  (Need more specifics?  My online CV is here.)

So how did I land at Scientopia as a guest blogger?  Short answer:  I was invited, by Zuska.  I can enjoy and respect the way science works and the truths it can tell, without actually being a scientist.  (It might help that I married a physicist, but I think I'd still follow science blogs without his influence.)  When I was teaching eighth grade in the early 1990s, I wanted to make a bulletin-board display about women scientists in history.  So I pored over every page of a biographical dictionary looking for their stories, trying to get beyond Marie Curie and the other usual suspects.  No Googling in 1992.

Now, I have more efficient ways to search for those names and stories.  Even better, I have ways to contribute to the general pool of knowledge about them.  Two examples:  I'm volunteering right now with the brand-new WikiProject Women's History, which already has a taskforce on Women in Technology; and the Smithsonian's uploads to Flickr Commons include a set of 110 portraits of Women in Science, some of which still await proper IDs.  If you've ever wondered who exactly does crowdsourcing projects, I'm one of those "bored people" (as I heard us described at THATCamp SoCal in January).  I like adding machine tags to images, or tracking down a birthdate for a paleobotanist, or transcribing old ships' logs.    And I still "try art" to bring women's history in science into more conversations.

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