Kicking Ass and Naming Names

Updated: Oct 17, 2020



A few weeks ago, I vlogged about Wikipedia Edit-a-thons to add bios for overlooked women. Here's an update about the Science History Institute, which is kicking ass and naming names!

This picture originally identified Michael Somogyi, then professor of biochemistry at the Washington University and Jewish Hospital of St. Louis, and five laboratory assistants. Hillary S. Kativa, Chief Curator of Audiovisual & Digital Collections at the Othmer Library of Chemical History, and Rebecca Ortenberg, Social Media Editor of the Science History Institute, crowdsourced the photo to try to identify the women. Kativa was inspired by an earlier story about a photo of the attendees at the 1971 International Conference on the Biology of Whales, which identified 37 men but not the woman. Through crowdsourcing, the woman he woman in the photo was identified as Sheila Minor Huff, a museum technician working for the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.


“It’s not that women weren’t there. It’s that they were hidden.”

Rebecca Ortenberg says the photos prove that “women have always, or for a very long time, been involved in different kinds of scientific processes and projects,” and “because they were often in more junior roles or supportive roles, [women] were not held up, identified, or highlighted.” Karen Kwon, who reported the event for Massive Science, explains that Ortenberg believes that, “It’s not that women weren’t there. It’s that they were hidden.”


Help women get written back into history! If you know any of these women contact Kativa at hkativa@sciencehistory.org.


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