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Physics

Women as Wave, Women as Particle: The gender-racial politics of the male-female gaze

Who are you?

I mean really . . .

Who are you . . . when you are alone and no one is watching?

What is your wave state?

Rosalyn Sussman Yalow, 1921 - 2011

A Jewish woman whose father-in-law is a rabbi, who keeps a kosher home, who invites her lab assistants to Passover seders, and worries about them catching colds is not the typical image of a Nobel Prize winner. But it is the image of Rosalyn Yalow, the first woman born and educated in the United States to win a Nobel Prize in a scientific field.

Mattie Levi Rotenberg, 1897 - 1989

"You're writing about your grandmother?" a friend inquires.
"Yes," I tell her. "The one who had a Ph.D. in physics."
"What about the grandmother who was a radio broadcaster?"
"It's the same one," I say.

Born in 1897 in Toronto, Canada, the oldest of 10 children, my grandmother was a "flash," to use the slang applied to her at the turn of the 20th century. Evidently brilliant from the earliest years, she excelled in school. Her 19 grandchildren grew up knowing that she had read all of Shakespeare by the time she was 12.

Dr. Rosalyn S. Yalow becomes first American-born woman to receive Nobel Prize in science

December 8, 1977

Dr. Rosalyn S. Yalow accepted the Nobel Prize in medicine. At the Nobel banquet, she delivered a speech condemning continued discrimination against women working in traditionally male fields.

Rosalyn Yalow

Rosalyn Yalow had two strikes against her in her effort to become a physicist: She was a Jew and a woman. She persevered, and not only earned a career in science and many awards—including a Nobel Prize—but changed the medical world with the introduction of radioimmunoassay.

Science in Israel

In October 2003 the European Commission published She Figures, a survey on women in science and technology in member countries and associates (including Israel), which cited statistics and other data that provide a basis for measuring the degree of progress towards equality of the sexes in these spheres.

Mattie Rotenberg

Journalist, educator, homemaker, and community stalwart with a Ph.D. in physics, Mattie (née Levi) Rotenberg was born in Toronto to parents who had immigrated as teenagers when Jewish Toronto was a village with a population of barely 2000.

Olga Taussky-Todd

Olga Taussky-Todd's work and passion helped shape matrix theory and draw other talented mathematicians to its development.

Ruth Sperling

Born into a family with a strong Zionist tradition and pioneer spirit, Ruth Sperling has kept this thread firmly woven through a life dedicated to scientific research. Ruth Sperling's most important scientific achievement was her co-discovery, with her husband, of the 3-D structure of spliceosomes, the cell's "machinery" for chopping up and re-attaching pieces of DNA to create its requisite assortment of functional proteins.

Elsa Neumann

A pioneer among women scientists in Germany, Elsa Neumann was the first woman to receive a doctoral degree at the University of Berlin (in 1899), nine years before women were officially allowed to study. She became a scholar and a pioneer in aviation research, participating in a flight in a Zeppelin airship in 1902.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Physics." (Viewed on November 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/physics>.

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