From lab, to Olympic podium to White House, accomplished women are still dismissed
By Petula Dvorak
Dec 29 2016
We can start with the ridiculous tantrum the maniverse threw when the new “Ghostbusters” were women. We can discuss how female athletes who crushed the Summer Olympics were treated as second-tier celebrities back home. And we can continue wondering how one of the most experienced candidates to run for president won the popular vote but was edged out by a narcissist who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals.
That all happened this year. And women took a deep breath, looked at that cracked, glass ceiling overhead and decided to fight on.
Then Vera Rubin died.
Who’s Vera Rubin?
Oh, she’s just the scientist who verified the existence of 90 percent of the known universe.
Rubin is the mother of dark matter. She unlocked a mystery that astronomers have been puzzling over for nearly 100 years.
The work she did — while raising four children, while being dismissed by male colleagues, while being forbidden from presenting her work at conferences — was one of the great scientific advances of our time.
Yet Rubin, who died on Christmas at 88, was never awarded the Nobel Prize that she deserved. She never became a household name. Even her hometown paper, The Washington Post, didn’t put her obituary on its front page, though it did so for the actress who played a fictitious denizen of the stars — Princess Leia. The person who actually discovered all those galaxies, far, far away? Rubin’s obituary ran inside the Metro section.
This isn’t a knock on Carrie Fisher. She was the 1.0 of feminist movie heroines in “Star Wars.” Her role was empowering for an entire generation. Beyond Leia, she was a great writer as well as a brave chronicler of her substance abuse and mental health problems.
But the attention Fisher commanded compared with that of Rubin, who did such groundbreaking work against such daunting odds, reminds us of what most of society still expects of women.
Actresses? Cool. We’ll embrace that.
But scientists? Record-breaking athletes? Leaders?
Does. Not. Compute. Still! In 2016.
From the lab to the Olympic podium to the Oval Office, America still has a problem with women when they’re good at the things men have long reserved for themselves.