Thought a lot of us can relate to this article. Growing up I used to hear from many boys around me that women are inherently intellectually inferior to men. And I would always lose the argument when they would ask me to name names of any woman who can rival Einstein and Newton. Even when I would mention the likes of Marie Curie and Rosalind Franklin, I would still lose the numbers game. Afterall, men outnumber women by an embarrassing number when it comes to being at the top of their fields. There just aren’t enough women doing the best in their fields (even though they are doing their best).
“Genius”- it seemed was a term reserved for men. Male scientists, male researchers, male professors, male composers, male artists, male directors, male CEOs- mostly, if not entirely, men are the faces and flag-bearers of their fields.
I kept searching for an answer. Why are women so far behind? My moment of epiphany came when I started researching one of my the then favorite personalities- Einstein. His first wife, Minerva had to give up her career and be reduced to a housemaid because Einstein needed to focus on his own work. All her time would be consumed up doing household chores and raising her two boys because Einstein, like most men of his time, wouldn’t shoulder any of those responsibilities. He would mentally abuse her and eventually shatter her completely by going on to cheat on her with his own cousin. She went borderline insane. But that is not what it used to be. Some historians say she used to be a better mathematician than Einstein. That’s what bonded them in the first place. Einstein would suggest his theories and she would help him prove that mathematically. Some say she had a big contribution to his Theory of Relativity, but Einstein made sure that she never got acknowledged for it.
I kept wondering how much this Serbian woman could have achieved if she just had the time to herself. If someone would have taken care of her household chores and raised her boys for her, if someone gave her an uninterrupted stretch of time to ponder, to reflect, to research- oh the things her brilliant mind come up with! Even with all the household chores she would still help Einstein solve his equations, so imagine what she could have done if she didn’t have to make an effort to make time for her one true love – science.
And I keep wondering how many genius women have gone into oblivion just because they had disproportionately more mundane things to attend to compared to their male counterparts. Maybe, just maybe, if this wasn’t the case, we would be saying to our nerdy/genius friends “You are such a Minerva!” instead of “You are such an Einstein!” to tease and/or compliment them.