Zombies, tokenism, and greatness

xkcd, a great geeky webcomic, features Zombie Marie Curie in today’s strip. ZMC says she’s tired of being THE token female scientist and spends some time talking about other great women scientists and mathematicians, but her real point is:

You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

As someone who did one of the multitudinous Marie Curie projects in grade school, I really appreciate the point about tokenism. I’m glad that I had learned about tokenism by the time, years later, that a guy tried to tell me that the 1950s weren’t that bad about gender roles because: Look! Adm. Grace Hopper had genitals that were an innie and she was a computer scientist! Bugs! Um, ok. Name two other famous female computer scientists – heck, famous female scientific/technical experts from the 1950s. Tokens, yoo haz one. (sic)

But the point about greatness is even more important. We don’t need another Marie Curie. We already had one. The message I’d like to get out to young women, and everybody, is that we need the first one of you doing whatever you’re good at that makes the world a better place.

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About Literata

Literata is a Wiccan priestess and writer. She edited Crossing the River: An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys, and her poetry, rituals, and nonfiction have appeared in works such as Mandragora, Unto Herself, and Anointed as well as multiple periodicals. Literata has presented rituals and workshops at Sacred Space conference, Fertile Ground Gathering, and other mid-Atlantic venues. Literata offers healing and divination services as well as customized life-cycle rituals. She is currently completing her doctoral dissertation in history with the support of her husband and four cats.
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3 Responses to Zombies, tokenism, and greatness

  1. Inquisitive Raven says:

    Let’s not forget Ada Lovelace, and if you’re looking for a name from the fifties, Rosalind Franklin.

    I like to think that if her colleagues hadn’t been a bunch of privileged male male jerks, Franklin would have gotten more credit for her work on the structure of DNA.

    • Literata says:

      Actually, I meant that I challenged the d00d who was making the claim to name names, not that I was challenging readers. But I’m always happy to give a shout out to Lovelace, Noether, Meitner, Franklin et alia! How cool on the Noether portrait. My university’s math department could have used a copy.

  2. Inquisitive Raven says:

    Oh, yeah, as a math major at Bryn Mawr College, I used to walk past a portrait of Emmy Noether on my way to class at least three times/week.

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